The United States Hockey League was established as the American Amateur Hockey League in 1947 and began play for the 1947-48 seasons. The AAHL was then renamed the Central Hockey League for the 1952-53 season. After a year as the Central Hockey League the league was renamed the Minnesota Hockey League and would be called this for the 1953-54 and 1954-55 seasons. After two seasons as the Minnesota Hockey League the league became the United States Central Hockey League and would be called this for five years 1956 to 1960.
In 1961, the newly named United States Hockey League originally operated as a senior ice hockey league. By the late 1970’s, the USHL fell on hard times. In 1977, three teams from the folded Midwest Junior Hockey League contacted the USHL about a potential merger.
In a turn of fate, a unique and rather peculiar merger was made. The three junior teams from the Midwest Junior Hockey League (Bloomington Junior Stars, Austin Mavericks, St. Paul Vulcans) and the three remaining pro teams in the USHL (Sioux City Musketeers, Waterloo Black Hawks, Green Bay Bobcats) came together.
There was a two-division format, with the junior teams in the Midwest Division and the professionals in the U.S. Division. The teams played against one another that were dominated by the professionals. The USHL’s split existence would last just two seasons.
The 1979–80 season was the league’s first as an all junior arrangement.
Today, the USHL is the country’s top junior hockey league. It compares to the CHL’s three member leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL). Unlike the CHL it does not pay a stipend to its players, who thus retain amateur status and are eligible to play in the NCAA.
Year after year the USHL has produced quality NHL talent. From the likes of Thomas Vanek to Paul Statsny to Joe Pavelski and to young defenseman such as John Moore and John Carlson. This year’s draft once again has potential to be strong.
Defenseman Ian McCoshen played an integral role for the Waterloo Black Hawks this past season. In 53 games played, McCoshen had 11 goals, 33 assists for 44 points. He did miss some time in November and December with mononucleosis.
McCoshen is not a highlight-reel type defenseman who will make great dekes or bone crushing hits. He’s just a dependable two-way defender who can play big minutes. He’s a very fast skater given his size. Standing at 6’3 205 plus pounds his top end speed and acceleration are very good. He has good long stride which generates a lot of power.
Defensively, is where McCoshen excels He has great gap control and is physical when players try to beat him one-on-one. Like I said earlier, he’s not like Niklas Kronwall or P.K.Subban who seek out players and deliver massive hits but McCoshen will battle hard in the corners and in front of the net. McCoshen is just a flat out tough and gritty player. That’s what I love to see from players at such a young age. His willingness to block shots, cut down passing lanes, and the use of his stick will make him an effective NHL player form years to come.
Offensively, McCoshen has made strides this past season. He has a powerful slap shot that he keeps low and gets on net. His stickhandling has improved and he looked more confident with the puck as the season went on. He can make the basic plays, and can also make more difficult maneuvers when the opportunity presents itself.
He was one most highly recruited players in the USHL in quite some time. Ultimately, McCoshen decided to take his talents to Chestnut Hill next season and play for Jerry York and the Boston College Eagles. While at BC, McCoshen will be able to fine tune his game and by the time he’s ready for the NHL in three to four years he’ll be able to step right on in to an NHL squad and contribute. If he chooses to go the OHL route his rights are held by the Saginaw Spirit. However, I suspect he will stay at BC given how dominant the Eagles have been for the last decade.
In terms of ceiling I see McCoshen becoming an excellent second pairing defenseman and a contributor on special teams in the NHL. The skill is there, but he’s a player who is still a bit raw, and will need time for development. That’s why his choice to go to BC is excellent.
McCoshen is one of my favorite players in this year’s draft along with Rimouski Oceanic forward Frederik Gauthier. The question still remains if he’ll be a first round pick. In my updated mock draft I have McCoshen going 25th overall to the Montreal Canadiens who have a habit of picking American defenseman. Jared Abbott has the big-bodied defender going to the Chicago Blackhawks at 28th overall. Jared also lists McCoshen as his 22nd overall top prospect for the upcoming draft. I listed the Waterloo blueliner as my 29th overall top prospect.
If McCoshen slips into the second round, the Flyers would be wise to give McCoshen a look with the 41st overall pick. Nevertheless, I believe McCoshen will go in the first round somewhere between 22-30.