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DAILY DISH: CougarTown - Junior Hockey News


By: Stephen Heisler June 9, 2015 Web site:

Did any of you really notice the power behind the United States Premier Hockey League Elite Midwest Divisions new Chicago Cougars? Simply stated, this group packs a powerful punch for the pay-to-play level of junior hockey.

Players often question the advancement promises of other teams, the Chicago Cougars have certainly put their money where their mouth is.

How about having one of the North American Hockey League's most successful coaches, Joe Dibble (Head Coach of the Janesville Jets) on the ice with the Cougars players weekly? The Jets bench boss is well known for getting his players moved up to the United States Hockey League and beyond. I dont know of any other NAHL (or CJHL) coaches that is part of the ownership and hockey operations for a pay-to-play team.

Many pay-to-play clubs promise the best chance to get to the next level (Tier 2) with minimum success of doing so at best.

Aside from Dibble, Chicago named Brad Stoffers (Springfield Jr. Blues) as the club's first head coach. Aside from Stoffers NAHL ties, he also brings NCAA D1 experience (RPI) along with his certificates in strength and conditioning.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, who is from the local Chicago area, is part of the ownership group and will be providing input and direction to players. Anderson runs specialized camps in the area each year. The veteran netminder just completed an amazing NHL playoff run and is very excited to actively take part in the development of up and coming hockey prospects.

The final piece is someone who's cutting edge thoughts and ideas have been interesting to follow for that last four years.

John Schwarz, decided to get into junior hockey to give players and parents the best return on investment in the game. In the process, Schwarz quickly established himself as one of the best owners in junior hockey.

His first team, the Dells Ducks, has represented the Minnesota Junior Hockey League at USA Hockey's Junior Nationals twice in only four years. An accomplishment some owners may never see in a lifetime.

The Chicago businessman also took over the Central Wisconsin Saints a few seasons ago. The club moved to Wisconsin Rapids this past season and rebranded as the Riverkings. Wisconsin Rapids quickly mirrored the success of the Ducks and went 32-7-0 for 64 points in 2014-15. Attendance improved from 100 to 400 fans a game this season.

Schwarz success has been tied to the loyalty of top shelf coaching talent. In only four years, his teams have sent 57+ players to college hockey (NCAA and ACHA) with $1.2 million+ tuition dollars saved by his former players. This includes seven players from the Riverkings with one of the youngest teams in the league.

Aside from hard work and desire to get better, the key to individual player success is the ability to be surrounded by the right people that are dedicated to the enhancement of the players' skill set and intelligence. Schwarz is been providing exactly that for the last four seasons.

The Cougars have built a foundation of immense power that is committed to the developmental process. Its obvious that opportunities to be a part of this team will be very limited.

I'm just looking forward to seeing what team Schwarz will be cheering for when his clubs have to face each other on the ice. Who am I kidding; he's a winner either way.

About The USPHL

The United States Premier Hockey League of 2022-23 is the nation’s largest junior amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States, from Maine to California, and from Florida to Washington State.

The USPHL includes over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20, including Youth and Midget Division teams in the Tier 1 Hockey Federation.

Overall, across all its divisions, the USPHL see more than 3,100 alumni playing college hockey each year and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL.

The league’s top level, the Tuition Free Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference, led all North American Tier II leagues with three players selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and has seen more than 200 NCAA Division I commitments since its 2017 inception. The NCDC will also expand to include the NCDC West, with teams in Colorado, Utah and Idaho for 2023-24.

Follow the Cougars on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and TikTok @ChicagoCougarsHockey.

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