Ithaca Voice: Elmira Impact To Play Select 2024-25 Games In Lansing, New York

By Matt Butler / Ithaca Voice

Reposted With Permission Of Ithaca Voice

The Elmira Impact of the United States Premier Hockey League will move part of its operations north to The Rink in Lansing, N.Y., for this upcoming season.

The Impact, which was founded five years ago as part of the USPHL is a junior hockey team that fields players aged 17-20. Players, most of whom are chasing dreams of playing at the professional or college levels, hail from across the United States and beyond.

There are two teams in the Impact program — the USPHL Premier team and the USPHL Elite team, the latter of which will be based out of The Rink in Lansing for at least the 2024 season, according to Team President Tim Kolpien.

“The [Elite team] players will live in the Ithaca area. All their daily activities, daily practices, team workouts, team meetings, their education, community service, will all be in the Ithaca area,” Kolpien said.

The Elmira Impact, like other USPHL teams, rely on local families to host players during the season in exchange for a monthly stipend — similar to how many minor league baseball teams house their players during their seasons.

“It’s always been part of our long-term plan to expand into a more regional program,” Kolpien said. “So that’s why when we had the opportunity to move into the Finger Lakes by playing out of The Rink up in Lansing, we jumped at it.”

The Finger Lakes region, Kolpien said, provides a healthy hockey foundation on which to build, with an interested audience to boot. He pointed to the success of Cornell University’s hockey team, which is fresh off another NCAA postseason run, as well as the club hockey teams at Cornell and Ithaca College and the achievements of the Lansing Outlaws youth hockey team, among others.

“Ithaca was the first priority in terms of expansion just because of the facility up there, and the great hockey history that the Ithaca area has,” Kolpien said. “It’s a huge opportunity for us as an organization, and we feel like we’re gonna be a positive addition to the hockey world in Ithaca.”

Community service, which is included in players’ contracts with the Impact and often takes the form of helping with local food kitchens or youth hockey programs, is the league’s way of “giving back to the community that’s hosting us,” Kolpien said.

Players in the USPHL are not compensated, though Kolpien said they are basically working under a full-time hockey schedule. In part, Kolpien said this is because players would lose their amateur eligibility if they accepted a players’ salary, which would prevent them from playing in any NCAA program after their time with the Impact.

The move will also usher in more opportunities for local hockey talent who may wish to join the team. Kolpien said while their coaches recruit from around the world, they are anticipating more players from Tompkins County.

The team is holding a regional skate event on June 15 at The Rink, followed by a two-day camp at The Rink on July 20-21, which Kolpien said is a good way for hopeful players to meet and interact with the team’s decision-makers.

The league has 72 Premier hockey programs from coast-to-coast in the United States, with another 28 Elite programs as well.

Since its inception, Kolpien said the Impact has had more than 150 players during its four seasons so far. Players are largely from around the United States, though there have also been a significant number of international players who have come from popular hockey hotbeds Canada, Russia and Scandinavia, and even lesser-known hockey areas like Italy and Asia.