Jr. Hockey

It has been a while since we had Wildcat Hockey. The franchise was founded in 2004 as the Twin Bridges Lightning and then moved to Maple Grove, Minnesota in 2005 to become the Minnesota Wildcats. The Wildcats played in a 1200 seat arena known as the Maple Grove Community Centre. Maple Grove is a city in Hennepin County, with a population of approximately 72,622 people. Famous residents of Maple Grove include the singer Sisqo, and former professional wrestler, actor, and the 38th governor of Minnesota, Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Maple Grove, today serves as the retail, cultural, and medical of the Northwest region of Minneapolis - Saint Paul.

The Wildcats were part of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League (MnJHL), which at the time of the last Wildcats game consisted of eight teams. The teams at that time were,

Granite City Lumberjacks
Rochester Ice Hawks
Minnesota Owls
Hudson Crusaders
Minnesota Flying Aces
Minnesota Wild Cats
Northern Lights
Edina Lakers

The Wildcats played until 2011 when the team became the Maple Grove Energy. In 2015 the team moved from Maple Grove to Blaine, keeping the Energy moniker. The Team continued to operate out of Blaine until after the 2017 season when the team folded due to issues fielding a team.

The MnJHL was founded in 1974 and developed players under the age of 20 for over 40 years. The MnJHL operated until 2015 when most of the league moved into the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). The USPHL has over 60 teams across eight different leagues.

At the end of the 2015 season the teams competing in the MnJHL were as follows;

Dells Ducks - Lake Delton, Wisconsin
Forest City Lakers - Forest Lake, Minnesota
Hudson Crusaders - Hudson, Wisconsin
Ironwood Fighting Yoopers - Ironwood, Michigan
Maple Grove Energy - Maple Grove, Minnesota
Minnesota Owls - Isanti, Minnesota
Rochester Ice Hawks - Rochester, Minnesota
Steele County Blades - Owatonna, Minnesota
Illiana Blackbirds - Dyer, Indiana
Marquette Royals - Marquette, Michigan
St. Louis Frontenacs - St. Louis, Missouri
Tri-City Ice Hawks - Bay City, Michigan
Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings - Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
Wooster Oilers - Wooster, Ohio

With the move to the USPHL, came better recognition and exposure to better competition across the different levels of the USPHL. The most notable USPHL alumni include today include,

Charlie Coyle - Boston Bruins
Connor Clifton - Boston Bruins
Jack Eiche - Buffalo Sabres
Tage Thompson - Buffalo Sabres
Roope Hintz - Dallas Stars
Steve Moses - Nashville Predators
Zach Sanford - St.Louis Blues
Jimmy Vesey - Toronto Maple Leafs

The USPHL continues to thrive and grow. The League last added new teams in 2020, when it added the Anaheim Avalanche, Fresno Monsters, Las Vegas Thunderbirds, Northern Colorado Eagles, Ogden Mustangs, Pueblo Bulls, San Diego Sabres, Southern Oregon Spartans, and the Utah Outliers of the Western States Hockey League (WSHL).