Western States Hockey League
Founded 1993
No. of teams 30
Country(ies) Flag of the United States United States
Most recent champion(s) Wichita Jr. Thunder (2016-17)
Most championship(s) Phoenix Polar Bears (7)
Official website WSHL

Established in 1993, the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) is an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)-sanctioned, junior ice hockey league. The WSHL was previously sanctioned by USA Hockey from 1994–2011.

The 2016–17 regular season features 30 (two team folded before the season, one folded mid-season) teams competing across four divisions, all playing a 52-game regular season schedule (except the Phoenix Knights, who only played 49 games), which mimics what players would experience at the collegiate level. This is the second season operating as a UHU-sanctioned Tier II league.


WSHL logo circa 2001

WSHL logo until 2001

Year one consisted of six teams, spanning Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah, with all member clubs playing a 30-game schedule operating as Tier III Junior B teams. The Anaheim Jr. Ducks won the first-ever Thorne Cup Championship that year and is the only franchise from the inaugural season still in existence, now operating as the Long Beach Bombers.

Western States Shootout logo

Current Commissioner Ron White took over operation of the WSHL in 1995 and continued to expand it over time eventually growing to the current 28 teams stretching across 14 states, making it the second largest junior hockey league in North America. In 2007 the WSHL upgraded their league status from the Tier III Junior B level to Junior A to attract higher quality prospects. In 2011 the league would join the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and dropped its USA Hockey sanctioning[1] leading to the loss of its most successful franchise, the Phoenix Polar Bears, while adding many new teams. After the WSHL's success without USA Hockey the United Hockey Union was formed under the AAU sanctioning along with the Northern States Hockey League (NSHL) and the Midwest Junior Hockey League (MWJHL). The UHU leagues continued to operate with Tier III Junior A player requirements. In 2015, the WSHL Board of Governors announced the approval of the league to start competing as a Tier II-level player league for a higher caliber of play beginning in the 2015–16 season. Prior to the announcement the only Tier II-level league in the United States was the North American Hockey League. As part of the approval to Tier II status, the Board of Governors also announced the formation of the Western Prospects League, a UHU approved Tier III development league for the WHL.[2]

The WSHL has had numerous teams attend and win the USA Hockey National Championship over the years and most recently, the El Paso Rhinos were crowned the United Hockey Union National Champions in 2014. The WSHL has had great success in moving players on to the college hockey ranks through the “Western States Shootout”, an annual all-league showcase held every December in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event averages in excess of 80 scouts in attendance, all of whom are looking to bolster their roster for the following season.

The 2014–15 regular season featured 28 teams competing across four divisions, all playing a 46-game regular season schedule, which mimics what players would experience at the collegiate level. Hockey politics in Texas extended into the legal realm and resulted in the Polar Ice House closing its doors. This facility was the home arena of the Dallas Ice Jets and a new expansion franchise, the Texas Attack. With the loss of their ice rink both teams had to bow out of the 2014–15 season and there has been no announcement if the teams will return.

The San Diego Gulls announced they were changing their name to the San Diego Sabers to allow for the new American Hockey League team in town to take the San Diego Gulls moniker.

On June 1, 2015 the league announced the addition of an expansion team to begin play for the 2015-16 season based in Vancouver, Washington.  The team has some of the same ownership as the Lake Tahoe Icemen The later announced it would be called the Vancouver Rangers.  According to the release the league is hoping to add a couple more teams in the northwest region for the 2016-17 season.

On April 28, 2016; the league added the Bellingham Blazers who had previously played in the Northern Pacific Hockey League.

The Missoula Maulers folded in May of 2016 after a dispute with the arena management at the Glacier Ice Rink. Apparently, the North American 3 Hockey League added a team to be based in Missoula that will be called the Missoula Bruins shortly after the team decided to end operations.

On May 31, 2016 the league announced the addition of the Breckenridge Bucks formerly of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. The Bucks would later relocate to Vail, Colorado and be renamed the Vail Powder Hounds.

On June 18, 2016 it was announced for the 2016-17 season the Salt Lake City Moose would be renamed the Utah Outliers. The team would continue to play out of the Accord Ice Center in West Valley City. The unusual renaming is apparently from an affiliation with a hockey school in Utah.

In late September 2016 the league suspended the operations of the Whitefish Wolverines. The league also stated that the league was already working on new ownership for a team in the city to begin play for the 2017-18 season.

The Colorado Evolution folded in early October 2016.

The Vail Powder Hounds were removed from the league around November 10, 2016. At the time of their folding the team had a record of 1-11-0-2 with 19 goals scored and 139 goals allowed.

On May 24, 2017 the Butte Cobras, who's ownership transferred to the Butte Amateur Hockey Association back in April acquired the North American 3 Hockey League franchise rights to the Glacier Nationals and withdrew from the WSHL to join the NA3HL.

The Tulsa Jr. Oilers were quietly removed from the league after the 2016-17 season.

The former Seattle Ravens of the United States Premier 3 Hockey League join the league for the 2017-18 season as the Kent Ravens.

The Vancouver Rangers relocate to Bremerton, Washington and are renamed the West Sound Warriors for the 2017-18 season assuming the identity of the team that played in the United States Premier 3 Hockey League for the 2016-17 season.

On July 27, 2017 the Idaho Jr. Steelheads announced they were changing their name to the Idaho IceCats.

Around September 28, 2017 the Kent Ravens were removed from the league listing and were not mentioned on the league's weekly notes for the Northwest Division.

The Las Vegas Storm were removed from the league website September 29th, 2017 after being mentioned as having their season opener pushed back to October 12th in a posting on the league website previewing the weekend of September 29-October 1.  The team's website through the WSHL was also deactivated.  The team folded due to lack of players and team management worked with the league on getting their players on other teams in the league upon suspending operations.

The Arizona Hawks folded sometime in early October 2017 as they were not listed on the WSHL's Weekly notes for the Western Division for the weekend of October 6th.

Teams Edit

(As of start of 2017-18 season)

Division Team City Arena Joined
Dallas Snipers Euless, Texas Dr. Pepper StarCenter 2011
El Paso Rhinos El Paso, Texas Sierra Providence Event Center 2006
Oklahoma City Blazers Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Blazers Ice Centre 2014
Springfield Express Springfield, Missouri Mediacom Ice Park 2005
Wichita Jr. Thunder Wichita, Kansas Wichita Ice Center 2012
Casper Coyotes Casper, Wyoming Casper Ice Arena 2014
Cheyenne Stampede Cheyenne, Wyoming Cheyenne Ice and Events Center 2004
Colorado Jr. Eagles Fort Collins, Colorado NoCo Ice Center 2013
Ogden Mustangs Ogden, Utah The Ice Sheet 2002
Superior RoughRiders Superior, Colorado Bouler Valley Ice at Superior 2007
Utah Outliers West Valley City, Utah Acord Ice Center 2011
Fresno Monsters Fresno, California Gateway Ice Center 2009
Long Beach Bombers Lakewood, California Lakewood Ice 1994
Ontario Avalanche Ontario, California The Center Ice Arena 2012
Phoenix Knights Gilbert, Arizona AZ Ice Gilbert 1999
San Diego Sabers Escondido, California Iceoplex Escondido 2001
Valencia Flyers Valencia, California Ice Station Valencia 2001
Northwest Bellingham Blazers Bellingham, Washington Bellingham Sportsplex 2016
Idaho IceCats McCall, Idaho Manchester Ice & Event Centre 2009
Seattle Totems Mountlake Terrace, Washington Olympic View Arena 2012
Southern Oregon Spartans Medford, Oregon The RRRink 2012
Tahoe Icemen South Lake Tahoe, California South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena 2012
West Sound Warriors Bremerton, Washington Bremerton Ice Center 2015

Thorne Cup Champions Edit

Team historyEdit

Full list of teams that have played in the WSHL.[1]
Bold = Current franchise

Notable alumniEdit

Sin Bad Sailors

1996 - 1997

  • Eddie Garrison - Phoenix Desert Rats, Empire State Cobras

Bay Cities Bombers

  • Matt Wolf - Oswego State
  • Anthony Massoto - Colgate University
  • Manu Manu - Johnson & Wales College
  • Chris Fratterigo - Fitchburg State


  • Mike Heindi - German Elite Pro League
  • Malk Tatavosian - Concordia College


  • Cory Anderson - Johnson & Wales College
  • Aman Kler - Johnson & Wales College


  • Mark Schnider - Nichols College
  • Shane Mohr - OPJHL: Brampton Capitals, Milton Icehawks


  • Kyle Cook - Nichols College

Idaho Rattlers


  • Blaise Leal - UMBC

Phoenix Polar Bears

  • David Lehman - WHL: Moose Jaw Warriors, USHL: Des Moines Buccaneers
  • Edwin Trebian - NAHL: Central Texas Blackhawks, CHL: Oklahoma Blazers, Arizona Sundogs
  • Derek Tijan - NAHL: Minnesota Blizzard
  • Blane Pohl - NAHL: Central Texas Blackhawks


  • Kilby Griff - Hamline University
  • Jason Stellino - Hamline University
  • Jason Loughrey - NAHL Springfield Jr. Blues


  • Dustin Droscher - CHL: Fort Worth Brahmas
  • Dusty Collins - Univ. of Northern Michigan, AHL: Springfield Falcons. Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 5th round in 2004, 163rd overall
  • Tyler Haskins - USHL: Sioux City Musketeers, OHL: Guelph Storm, Toronto St. Michael Majors, Saginaw Spirit. Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 5th round in 2004, 162nd overall
  • Aaron Quinton - University of Oklahoma ACHA Div. 1


  • Hartley Krulicki - Univ. of Manitoba
  • Joe Lorentz - Hamline University
  • Max Mobley - NAHL: North Iowa Outlaws
  • Stephen Mcleod - NAHL: North Iowa Outlaws
  • Lee Joos - NAHL: Minnesota Blizzard
  • Ryna Shelfoe - NAHL: Minnesota Blizzard
  • Ryan Bezdicek - NAHL: Fargo Jets
  • Alex Brownlee - WHL: Regina Pats
  • Curtis Kelner - WHL: Calgary Hitmen, Spokane Chiefs
  • Brian Cooke - Wayne State

San Diego Surf

  • David Brito - Sacred Heart University, WCHL: San Diego Gulls


  • Joey Perricone - WHL: Moose Jaw Warriors
  • Warren Ruibinoff - Lakeforest University


  • Itan Chavira - USHL: Ohio Blue Jackets

Valencia Vipers/Flyers


  • Rene Huegli - Switzerland Professional Hockey
  • Lavrenty Kazaryan - NAHL: Helena Bighorns
  • Joey Howard - USHL: Topeka Scarcrows
  • Blake Miller - Finlandia University
  • Coby Robinson - American International College

Dallas Titans


  • Martin Winzer - NAHL: Santa Fe Roadrunners, CHL: Tulsa Oilers
  • Joel Rechlicz - NAHL: Santa Fe Roadrunners, UHL: Chicago Hounds, UHL: Kalamazoo Wings, AHL: Albany River Rats, NHL: New York Islanders

El Paso Rhinos


  • Zach Jaraczerski - St. Norbert College
  • Tad Norris - NAHL: Kenai River Brown Bears
  • Corey Jendras - NAHL: Topeka Roadrunners
  • Daniel Barnes - OPJHL: Vaughan Vipers

Tulsa Rampage


  • Billy Strain - Nichols College
  • Dennis Capa - UMASS Boston
  • Joshua Erhardt - NAHL: Alaska Avalanche
  • Kent Kirby - Nichols College
  • Connor Nunnally - Nichols College
  • Dan Swanson - Concordia College

Cajun Catahoulas


  • Cary Chiampi - OPJHL: Oswego Admirals

Fort Worth Texans


  • Austin Smith - Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 5th round in 2007, 128th overall

Ventura Mariners

  • Ryan Weber - University of Findlay Div 1 NCAA
  • Keoni Huegli- Switzerland Professional Hockey
  • Brandon Crawford-West - USHL: Tri-City Storm, Miami (Ohio) University
  • Stephen Schofield - Fitchburg State
  • Ricardo Hernandez - Buffalo State
  • Cyle McCorkle - Buffalo State
  • Rocky Reeves - Buffalo State
  • Jason Davis - Buffalo State

Utah Junior Grizzlies


  • Rich Dempsey -ACHA Div 1. Kent State University
  • George Avery - WCHL Idaho Steelheads, CHL Lubbock Cotton Kings, CHL Amarillo Rattlers
  • Nate Gorney - ACHA Div 1.
  • Gergely Majoross - Alban Vola Fe Vita H.C.- Austria
  • Szabolcs Fekete - Alban Vola FeVita H.C. - Austria

Utah Golden Eagles


  • Matt Trojovsky - WHL: Swift Current Broncos,
  • Mike Pope - Fredonia State, OPJHL: Trenton Sting

Utah Lightning


  • Ryan Hrankowski - Univ. of Minnesota-Crookston

New Mexico Breakers

  • Jeremy Bechdel - Neumann College
  • Scott Meehan - New England College
  • Kurtis Dukelow - New England College

Flagstaff Mountaineers

  • Vince Malts - QMJHL: Hull Olympiques, ECHL: Arkansas Riverblades, Pee-Dee Pride, Charlotte Checkers, Augusta Lynx, Bakersfield Condors, UHL: Rockford Icehogs, Elmira Jackals, Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 7th round in 1998
  • Dean Vandervort - Cortland State
  • Ed Harding - ECHL: Assistant Coach Arkansas RiverBlades, QMJHL: Assistant Coach Lewiston MAINiacs

Nevada Rattlers


  • Joe Dramise - UMASS Dartmouth
  • PJ Miles - Northeastern University

Salt Lake Maple Leafs


  • Clark Minken - Neumann College
  • Mike Bernardy - USHL: Indianapolis Ice, St. Norbert College

Colorado Jr. Eagles


  • Levi Weber - Colorado Eagles

League StaffEdit

  • Don Thorne - Chairman of the Board
  • Ron White - Commissioner/President
  • M.F. Schurman - Deputy Commissioner/Vice President
  • Laura Ellis - Secretary
  • Carl Brown - Director of Publicity
  • Arthur Kitano - Referee in Chief


League Web Site Edit

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Western States Hockey League. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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