MWJHL – an AAU-sanctioned Junior league – to begin in 2012-13

By Stefan Kubus –

Beginning in 2012-13, the Midwest Junior Hockey League (MWJHL) will become a regular entity in the junior hockey realm.

An official press release was sent out late Thursday night to announce the league’s affiliation with the American Athletic Union (AAU). The league is expected to start its inaugural season with 14 teams on or about Sept. 15, 2012, spanning across the Midwest, including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois. Interim commissioner Patrick Pylypuik also hopes to double the league’s size to 28 clubs in time for the 2013-14 season.

According to the press release, the league will serve as a different opportunity for Tier II Junior A players, but that the league “intends to operate outside of a traditional Junior A hockey model.”

Of the 14 teams, the Mitten will house six of them. Wayne, Hartland, Fraser, Sault Ste. Marie, Traverse City, and a metro-Detroit club will comprise Michigan’s strong representation in the newly-founded league.

The other teams are expected to play out of Toledo, OH; Cleveland, OH; Dayton, OH; Louisville, KY; Kankakee, IL; and Bloomington, IL.

From the league’s press release:

Our player prospects, certain individuals among the NHL, AHL, ECHL, CHL, NCAA are committed to thinking outside of the box creating another option for the aspiring hockey player wanting to play Tier II Junior Hockey in the United States.

And more:

Today so much pressure is placed on young players with a notion that players must be able to compete as a 15, 16 and 17 year-old. Most players are often overlooked because they might not be a “prospect” in someone’s eyes at these ages. This pressure is as a direct result of the NHL, USHL, NAHL leagues respectively placing so much emphasis on these drafts by labeling players as a 1st, 2nd 3rd Round pick etc. Unfortunately, the way the system works is that the majority of undrafted players are typically off the radar screen often resulting in missed opportunities, as these players get older.

On the operational side, of Junior Hockey other than Tier 1 in the United States many teams lack the sports management and marketing acumen needed to ensure sustainability in a junior market. The MWJHL is going to support its member teams in the form ticket, sponsorship, merchandising and digital marketing. “An advantage of starting a new league is that we can easily implement processes and technologies that will provide our members with the resources and infrastructure to success off the ice as well.

The AAU is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer sports organizations in the United States with its 633,000+ athletes, dedicated to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs.