Yet according to Marc Boxer, the USA Hockey manager of youth and junior hockey, USA Hockey never has been contacted by the league.
"There's been no informal talks with USA Hockey, and when I say USA Hockey I mean the Junior Council vice president Dan Esdale or myself," Boxer said. "I think those would be the two people you would talk to if you wanted to be a USA Hockey sanctioned league, that would be your first step."
They aren't the only league that's independent. The International Junior Hockey League has teams from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and in Canada. I believe there was a league in the Northwest that ran into trouble. This doesn't surprise me that they went independent but it just shows what type of a league it is if it's not backed by USA Hockey or Hockey Canada.
The Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association warned players about the league. Scott Schwendeman didn't understand why the WAHA was giving them flack.
"We get a lot of flack from WAHA (Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association) and a lot of flack from some local high schools," league franchise director Scott Schwendeman said. "We've tried to stay locally, we've tried to get the word out locally to teams but, I don't know what it is. If they are afraid of letting their kids know about us, but we've had a majority of our responses from outside the state of Wisconsin."
In Maine, high school programs have been loosing talent to the emergence of junior hockey in the state. I think in schools in Wisconsin were worried that players were jump ship to this new league. The WJHL probably stretched the truth and players were lied to which is not surprising.
Justin Lohrman was one of them. He says his parents took out loans to afford the $1,600 fee. Once he moved here, he was hit with hundreds of dollars in additional costs.
Lohrman says he was traded to different teams within the state. He even spent the night in his car because the league had no host family for him to stay with. Eventually, his team in Monroe disbanded. Justin never even played a game.
How can a league approve a trade before housing arrangement were made to welcome the new player? That's just wrong.
If I was a player or a parent I would research the league before joining a team or league. In my opinion, I would rather try to make a Division III team instead of playing a league like this after high school. I think the chances would be making a DIII even if I did play two years in a Independent Junior A league with no official backing of a governing body. I respect players that do play in a league like this because they are continuing dream and you can't fault a kid for following a dream.
That's My Take
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)