Starting in 1979-80, the United States Hockey League has been a junior league.
Precursors to this league were:
- American Amateur Hockey League (1947-52)
- Central Hockey League (1952-53)
- Minnesota Hockey League (1953-55)
- Central Hockey League (1955-60)
The American Amateur Hockey League was established in 1947 as the Minnesota-based American Amateur Hockey League with teams in Minneapolis, Rochester and St. Paul. Since its debut, the league has progressed and changed its name several times: In 1952, it became the Central Hockey League; then the next season it became the Minnesota Hockey League; and in 1956 the name was changed again to the Central Hockey League. In 1961, it adopted the name United States Hockey League (USHL).
United States Hockey League (1961-1979)Edit
By the late 1970s, the USHL had fallen on hard times. In the summer of 1977, clubs from the recently folded Midwest Junior Hockey League contacted the USHL. A unique merger was formed, with the three junior teams (Bloomington Junior Stars, Austin Mavericks, St. Paul Vulcans) and three remaining pro teams (Sioux City Musketeers, Waterloo Black Hawks, Green Bay Bobcats) gathered under the USHL banner. League governors decided on a two-division format, with the junior-aged teams in the Midwest Division and the professionals in the U.S. Division. The teams played an interlocking schedule that was, predictably, dominated by the professionals. The USHL's split existence would last just two seasons. The minor-pro wing of the league folded following the 1978-79 season, providing junior hockey operators with the opportunity to redefine the circuit. The 1979-80 season was the league's first as an entirely junior arrangement.
The league's last season as a senior hockey league was 1978-79. During this final season the league comprised seven teams in two conferences. The U.S. Conference (with the Green Bay Bobcats, the Sioux City Musketeers and the Waterloo Black Hawks); while the Midwest Conference (with the Anoka Nordiques, the Austin Mavericks, the Bloomington Junior Stars, and the St. Paul Vulcans. All seven teams were made up with players categorized as "Senior Amateur". Following the 1978-79 season the senior league teams in the U.S. Conference folded and the USHL became an all-junior league the following season.