The United States Premier Hockey League is proud to announce that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will become a Member Organization of the USPHL and play the 2021-22 season at the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite levels.
Ray Welsh will be the General Manager of the Knights, who will play at the Revolution Ice Center in Pittston, Pa., also home to the NCAA Division III King’s College team. Playing in the same building as an NCAA team will generate guaranteed college scouting exposure for Knights players - not just from King’s, but also nearby schools such as Wilkes, Arcadia, Bryn Athyn, Lebanon Valley, Alvernia and Neumann.
In short, the Knights are in the middle of prime NCAA recruiting territory.
“We know that the USPHL has the best Tier-3 junior teams in the country. You can see just by looking at the scores that there is great parity in the league,” said Welsh.
If the Knights name rings a bell around the former home of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, it’s because the moniker has a long history here. The Knights first played as a junior team in 2010 as part of the former Atlantic Junior Hockey League. A number of teams from the former AJHL ultimately joined the USPHL, including the Northern Cyclones, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Rockets Hockey Club and Bridgewater Bandits. Now, the Knights join that illustrious group, as well.
The WBS Knights, in this first iteration, fielded its 16U team in the USPHL 16U Division from 2014-16. Six future NCAA Division I players skated for the WBS Knights during their USPHL stint, including Mark Cheremeta, the second-leading scorer for Ohio State University.
The Knights’ USPHL 18U team in their single season of 2014-15 also featured six future NCAA Division I players.
The USPHL is excited to see the Knights’ junior teams skate in the League for the first time.
“With the times we’re in, having two teams will be great, being able to move players up and down,” said Welsh. “Also, the travel is fantastic, whether we’re playing teams in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey or even Connecticut. In our former junior league, we were going all over the country. The USPHL will feature a lot less travel to help our players to focus on development.”
Player development has always been the first priority for Welsh and his Knights colleagues. After all, former Knights Midget player Ivan Provorov is currently an NHL veteran in his fifth season with the Philadelphia Flyers, for whom he is an Alternate Captain.
Welsh and the Knights have a world of work to do before they drop the first USPHL pucks in the late summer this year.
“We have to hire our coaches first,” Welsh said. “We have candidates in mind, but we haven’t reached out to them yet. Once we have our coaches, we will be recruiting heavily. I’ve already been out recruiting at prep schools in our area. It’s a process, but we have a lot of player pools to draw from - southern New York, central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New Jersey for starters. We will also be utilizing events such as the 2021 USPHL NCDC Combines in Detroit and Chicago to recruit players for our inaugural season.”
For more information on the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights, contact Ray Welsh at email@example.com