Xpress Joining USPHL
Sanders:?Change Is ‘In The Best Interest Of The Program’
On Thursday evening, the Southern Tier Xpress hockey team officially announced via Twitter that it will be joining the Great Lakes Conference of the U.S. Premier Hockey League.
The Xpress will be one of six teams that comprise the new division, which will play at the Premier level along with teams from the North, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest East, Midwest West, Southeast and Florida Conferences.
As a part of the new league, the Xpress will have an affiliation with the Syracuse Stars, which play in the National Collegiate Development Conference, the highest level of play in the USPHL.
“We are appreciative of the time that we spent in the (North American Tier III Hockey League),” Xpress general manager Travis Sanders said Thursday night. “Ultimately it is a group conversation and effort with these types of decisions. This is a big deal to make a change like this, but we all felt it was the best interest of the program. A big reason for the change is the exposure opportunity for our players and providing them more opportunities for higher levels of hockey. This is a change that we thought would provide those opportunities through the blueprint that the USPHL provides.”
Joining the Xpress in the new division will be former NA3HL East Division teams from Lansing, Metro, Toledo, Pittsburgh and Wooster, after all six teams independently made the decision to move into the USPHL.
“You are not going to notice much of difference in terms of the logistics of the operation,” Sanders said. “The big difference is going to be our participation in the three showcases each season.”
While in the NA3HL, Xpress players had just one opportunity per season to head to a national showcase and gain exposure to scouts from collegiate and high-level junior programs, while the USPHL will offer one showcase in Chicago as well as two in Massachusetts this coming season.
“You’re always trying to assess what is best for your players and when the situation arose it was something where we wanted to seize the opportunity,” Sanders said.
Another advantage of the move will be the affiliation with Syracuse, which means that Xpress players will have chances to be called up to play for the Stars in the NCDC.
“It was kind of a mutual relationship that we felt would be beneficial for everyone involved, considering proximity and level of play,” Sanders said of the new relationship.
Southern Tier will also have the benefit of being able to bring in more international players to its roster, after being limited to just three of those spots with the NA3HL.
Currently team coaches and management are in the contract signing period, while tryouts are expected to bring somewhere in the range of 40 skaters to Northwest Arena beginning this weekend.