BETHESDA, MD — Black Bear Sports Group, Inc., (“Black Bear”), the United States Premier Hockey League (“USPHL”) and the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (“THF”) are pleased to announce a collaboration of their youth and midget hockey activities. Teams at all ages from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania will play in the THF-USPHL South Division (“THF South”). The THF South will continue with its hallmark unbalanced schedule in order to eliminate lopsided games and improve national hockey rankings. Midget (15U, 16U and 18U) teams from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will play in the USPHL-THF North Division (“USPHL North”), which will be administered by the THF. USPHL North member club youth teams will remain in their current leagues. The two divisions will compete at year end for a USPHL Championship. The Mercer Chiefs will also be purchasing a Tier 2 NCDC junior hockey franchise and will field a team for the 2022-23 season. Finally, Tony Zasowski, former Director of the North American Prospects Hockey League (“NAPHL”), one of the largest Tier 1 youth hockey leagues in the U.S., has been named Commissioner of the THF. Tony brings deep experience to this new role having previously run, in addition to the NAPHL, all NAHL Central Scouting initiatives, prospects tournaments and combines.
“Through our collaboration with the USPHL, the THF is now a one-of-a-kind organization in that we are the only group with clubs that operate from “cradle to college,” from Mite thru Midget at the youth level and every level of junior hockey developing players for NCAA Division I, II and III schools,” said Murry N. Gunty, Founder and CEO of Black Bear Sports Group. “We are honored to collaborate with the USPHL and their member clubs and look forward to building upon all of their successes to date.”
“The Mercer Chiefs have a long history of success at the youth level so we are thrilled to have them join us in the NCDC,” said Bob Turow, Commissioner of the USPHL. “We believe this association at the Midget and youth levels will strengthen both of our organizations.”
“I am excited to work with all of our member clubs in the THF and USPHL to build one of the top Tier 1 organizations in the country,” said Tony Zasowski, Commissioner of the THF. “We have an amazing group of operators that will support the growth and placement of all our hockey players to the highest levels.”
About the NCDC
The NCDC is the only tuition-free junior hockey league that is fully located in the Northeastern United States, limiting travel to New York, New Jersey and the New England states. This allows players to spend more time on development, both on-and off-ice, than traveling on a bus. With the unmatched USPHL Showcase Series, NCDC players have several opportunities each season to play in front of several scouts at well-attended multi-day, multi-tiered events. There are more than 700 former players from the USPHL’s top division skating with NCAA hockey teams during the 2021-22 season.More than 150 players committed to college hockey out of the 2020-21 NCDC season alone.
The NHL has also taken notice as the League saw three players selected directly out of the NCDC in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Alumni of USPHL/NCDC organizations currently skating in the NHL include players such as Jack Eichel, Charlie Coyle, John Marino, Jimmy Vesey, and Stanley Cup Champions Zach Sanford, Trevor Van Riemsdyk and Brian Dumoulin.
About The United States Premier Hockey League
The United States Premier Hockey League of 2021-2022 is the nation’s largest amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States and parts of Canada. The USPHL fields approximately 550 teams representing over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20. Overall, across all its divisions, the USPHL has more than 1,300 alumni playing college hockey in 2021-22 and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL.
About the Tier 1 Hockey Federation
The Tier 1 Hockey Federation is a scheduling partnership designed to provide elite level competition through an unbalanced schedule among Tier 1 and elite clubs on the East Coast. The THF is managed by full-time professional staff and initially has over 100 elite or AAA teams from 9U-18U committed for its inaugural 2022-23 season. The THF brings together clubs from multiple leagues and states and is the only organization whose members operate franchises in the top junior hockey leagues in the US for NCAA Division I commitments: USHL, NAHL, NCDC and the top two junior hockey leagues for NCAA Division III commitments, the USPHL Premier Division and the Eastern Hockey League.
About Black Bear Sports Group, Inc.
Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. is a privately held company formed by Murry Gunty and Blackstreet Capital Holdings, LLC in 2015 that seeks investments in sports and entertainment facilities, teams and youth sports events. Black Bear arenas are clean and professionally managed and offer world-class recreational programs. Black Bear focuses on ice arenas in metropolitan areas with compelling demographics, a National Hockey League club presence and arenas with existing youth hockey clubs. The largest owner/operator of ice rinks in the U.S., Black Bear’s footprint totals 30 facilities across the United States with 55 sheets of indoor ice, four indoor turf fields, 23 youth hockey clubs, four youth hockey leagues (Atlantic Hockey Federation, Atlantic Girls Hockey Federation, Tier 1 Hockey Federation and National Girls Hockey League), the nation’s largest adult hockey organization (Foundry Adult Hockey) and four Junior “A” hockey franchises in the United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League, United States Premier Hockey League and Eastern Hockey League.
Contact Info: Tony Zasowski, Commissioner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Bear Sports Group is proud to announce that Tony Zasowski has been named the Director of Leagues and Tournaments and will also serve as the Commissioner of the Atlantic Hockey Federation (AHF) and Tier 1 Hockey Federation (THF).
In his new role, Tony will focus on the growth and operations of the division. “Tony brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to hockey operations and we could not be more thrilled to announce him as Commissioner of both the THF and AHF,” said Matt Kiernan, Vice President of Hockey for Black Bear.
Prior to joining Black Bear, Tony was the Director of Player Personnel and NAPHL Director. In his role, Zasowski oversaw all aspects of NAHL Combines, NAHL Future Prospects Tournaments, NAHL Central Scouting, and Education Initiatives for the NAHL, NA3HL, and NAPHL. In addition, Zasowski was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NAPHL, along with the direction of all the NAPHL events.
As a player, Zasowski grew up playing goaltender. His junior career included winning an Anderson Cup and National Championship with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL and playing in Omaha where he won a Clark Cup where he set a league record with 35 wins in a season and won Goalie of the Year. From there, he earned a scholarship at the University of Notre Dame where he was named Freshman of the Year for the Irish. He finished up his playing career with the Dayton Bombers in the ECHL.
Bethesda, MD – Black Bear Sports Group is proud to announce the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (“THF”), a new hockey federation designed to facilitate scheduling among rink owners in the Eastern U.S. and the clubs located in their buildings.Initially, the THF will have 12 Founding Members and approximately 80 teams from 9U-18U and will have teams from multiple states, USA Hockey Districts and Tier 1 leagues represented in order to provide the best competition for its members. There is no limit on the number of teams that a club can enter at each level and teams will be scheduled based on a preseason Spring parity event to provide balanced competitive games. The THF is the only example of an organization whose owners have stakes in every junior hockey league in the U.S. including the Tier 1 United States Hockey League, Tier 2 North American Hockey League, USPHL including the Tier 2 NCDC & its Tier 3 divisions and the Tier 3 Eastern Hockey League.
“Our tagline says it all: Competition, Exposure, Advancement, “said Black Bear Sports Group CEO and Founder Murry N. Gunty. “Our vision is to provide professional, full-time management focused on elite, balanced AAA competition at 9 U through 18 U with an emphasis on providing a pathway to college for our players. Every club has varying levels at each birth years – our goal is to use the THF to provide a great AAA experience for every club and every team.”
“Our THF core values will be centered on balanced competition, competitive games and limited travel for families who are concerned about costs,” said THF Commissioner and VP of Hockey for Black Bear Sports Group, Matt Kiernan. “Our unique product with an unbalanced schedule provides the ability to eliminate lopsided hockey games for the elite AAA hockey clubs on the East Coast. We are also committed to providing all participants with unparalleled, leading-edge scoring systems and player marketing platforms.”
Founding Members that have joined the THF thus far include Esmark Stars, Hartford Jr. Wolfpack, Flyers Elite, Mercer Chiefs, NJ 87s, NJ Jets, NJ Hitmen, MassConn United*, Palmyra Black Knights, Revolution Hockey Club, Team Maryland, and Westchester Express.
About Tier 1 Hockey Federation – The Tier 1 Hockey Federation is a scheduling partnership designed to provide elite-level competition through an unbalanced schedule among Tier 1 clubs on the East Coast. The THF is managed by full-time professional staff and initially has approximately 80 AAA teams from 9U-18U during its inaugural 2022-23 season. The THF brings together clubs from multiple leagues and states and is the only organization whose owners have stakes in every junior hockey league in the U.S. including the Tier 1 United States Hockey League, Tier 2 North American Hockey League and USPHL NCDC and the Tier 3 USPHL Premier Divisions and the Eastern Hockey League.
About Black Bear Sports Group. – Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. is a privately held company formed by Murry Guntyand Blackstreet Capital Holdings, LLC in 2015 that seeks investments in sports and entertainment facilities, teams, and youth sports events. Black Bear arenas are clean, professionally managed, and offer world-class recreational programs. Black Bear focuses on ice arenas in metropolitan areas with compelling demographics, a National Hockey League club presence, and arenas with existing youth hockey clubs. Black Bear not only features the ability to acquire healthy and stable arenas, but also the expertise required to turn around mismanaged or under-performing facilities. The largest owner/operator of ice rinks in the U.S., Black Bear’s footprint totals 30 facilities across the United States with 55 sheets of indoor ice, four indoor turf fields, 23 youth hockey clubs, four youth hockey leagues (Atlantic Hockey Federation, Atlantic Girls Hockey Federation, National Girls Hockey League and Tier I Hockey Federation), the nation’s largest adult hockey organization (Foundry Adult Hockey) and three Junior “A” hockey franchises with membership in the USHL, NAHL, and EHL.
Contact: Matt Kiernan, VP Hockey, Black Bear Sports Group, email@example.com
*MassConn United is a scheduling partner and not eligible for playoffs