Rocky Mtn. Junior Hockey League approved

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

It’ official.

The Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL) is official.

USA Hockey recently granted Tier-3 Junior A status to the league that will offer Junior A competition in Colorado.

“This is great news for Colorado hockey,” said Shaun Hathaway, director of Aspen Junior Hockey and acting league president.

“Our members are very grateful for the opportunity and certainly excited to excel on a national junior hockey stage. Adding a sensible footprint of USA Hockey-sanctioned junior hockey throughout Colordo is an amazing thing for our players and fans.”

Hathaway said the league recently added the Breckenridge Bucks to form a complete league.

The Breckenridge team will join the Aspen Leafs, Colorado Rampage, Colorado Thunderbirds, Grand Junction Coyotes and Pikes Peak Miners as the original six members of the new Colorado-based USA Hockey junior league.

Hathaway said that unlike most leagues, Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League members are tied directly to local youth hockey programs.

“They can now offer a highly structured path of amateur development from start to finish (8 through age 20),” Hathaway said.

“We truly believe in and support the process and model that USA Hockey has developed and are extremely excited to be a part of the RMJHL,” said Angelo Ricci, league vice president and director of the Colorado Thunderbirds. “Our goal will be to prepare hard-working, talented players who need more time for the next level.”

The president of the Pikes Peak Miners agreed.

“We feel like this is a very logical extension of our current programming and a great local opportunity for players,” said Bob Nolette, the leader of the Miners.

With the official approval from USA Hockey, the six teams will begin preparations for the start of the inaugural season in October 2015.

“To have an opportuity to offer every level under USA Hockey’s umbrella is something we are proud of and don’t take for granted, and we are very excited to work with our partners in providing the most elite Tier-3 USA Hockey league in the country,” said Andrew Sherman, director of the Colorado Rampage.

Tentative plans call for the Aspen Leafs to play games at the downtown Aspen Ice Garden.