Junior Hockey League History
The Empire Junior Hockey League began in 1996 with just five teams, the
Pittsburgh Penguins, Rochester Junior Americans, Syracuse Stars, Binghamton
Rangers and the Wheatfield Blades.
Of these, three teams had been member of the now defunct Northeastern League
but chose to develop their programs in a different direction.
In the subsequent decade, teams came and went (Uncle Sam's, the St Lawrence
Muskies, Elmira Junior Jackals) as well as ownership changes amongst the
various members (Wheatfield Blades relocated to the Canadian Golden Horseshoe
League), however, the League's philosophy remained focused and consistent.
In the early part of the decade the Empire added the New York Applecore
and Capital District Selects teams, which opened the door for the Empire
League's current growth. Many of the new franchise operators have forward
thinking owners who want to take young players and optimize their development.
Don Kirnan is the only commissioner the league has had, and this has resulted
in a league committed to the same objectives it had 10 years ago. Now with
21 teamss the Empire League has grown to the largest Junior 'B' League
in North American.
The focus today continues as it was ten years ago, to bring the most professional
program possible, and our commitment to developing them into players who
will excel at the Junior 'A' and college levels.
Empire Junior Hockey League takes great pride in moving it's players to
Collegiate division I, II & III levels, to Canadian and American Junior
'A' programs. From the Empire we have seen numerous players move on to
the NHL, AHL United and other professional leagues.
The Empire League is proud to have been a contributing factor in player
development over the past ten years and we expect to make even a greater
impact in the future.