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USEL aims for best player experience in third year of operation

By Peter Odney, 03/30/24, 11:15AM CDT


Former Cretin-Derham Hall and St. Paul Johnson standout Brendhan West takes over as league's commissioner for 2024.

For the third consecutive year, the United States Elite League will bring together some of the top hockey talent in the country for a pair of showcase weekends, giving top talent the chance to test itself with - and against - the best. 

New USEL Commissioner Brendhan West has an extensive hockey background both as a player and a personnel professional, bringing a wealth of organizational experience to the league. 

“The USEL’s core values are (getting) the best players so the games are meaningful, helping these players get better, and making sure the players have a good experience,” West said, adding that the players themselves are the league’s highest priority.

A Minneapolis, Minn. native, West played high school hockey for Cretin-Derham Hall and St. Paul Johnson before skating for the USHL’s Twin City Vulcans in the late 1990s. West currently resides in Massachusetts and has coached numerous Boston-based teams since retiring from the game.  

Like last year, a USEL weekend will take place in metro Detroit.

Six organizations will participate in two events this spring, including Detroit Little Caesars, Chicagoland’s North Shore Hockey Development Academy, Western Alliance, Minnesota’s Select Development Program, and East Coast-based Mhyro Hockey and Ice Exchange. 

Select Development Program (SDP) captured the USEL championships at both the 2009 and 2010 age groups last season. The 2009’s edged Little Caesars 6-5 in the finale and finished USEL play with a record of 9-3-3. Little Caesars’ Vincent Arnone and Mhyro Hockey’s T. James Jackson tied for the division’s scoring with 20 points each. 

SDP went 13-1 en route to the 2010 title, holding off a five-goal charge by IceExchange for an 8-7 win. Moorhead native Joey Cullen led the 2010 Division in scoring with 41 points in 14 games, with IceExchange’s Cameron Daigle and Little Caesars’ RJ Thompson placing second and third with 27 and 26 points, respectively. 

RJ Thompson was one of the top players in last year's USEL 2010 Division.

The USEL’s opening weekend will run from May 16-19 at the newly renovated Lovell Ice Arena just outside Boston. The second weekend will be held in metro Detroit from June 6-9. 

As in previous years, the USEL will sponsor a weekend of learning and competition at the USA Hockey National Team Development facility in Plymouth, MI. The weekend will feature player/parent meetings with NTDP staff, facility tours, combine testing, and on-ice practices and games. The NTDP weekend is for the 2009-birth years.

SDP 2009 took home the ultimate prize in last year's USEL playoffs.

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