North American 3 Hockey League

The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) is an American Tier III junior ice hockey league that consists of teams from Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Sanctioned by USA Hockey, for most of the league's existence, the winner of the NA3HL playoffs would advance to play for the Tier III National Championship, however, this has not been held since 2015.

North American 3 Hockey League
SportIce hockey
Founded1970s
No. of teams34
CountryUnited States
Most recent
champion(s)
Texas Jr. Brahmas (2019)
Official websitewww.na3hl.com

History

Originally formed in the early 1970s as a Junior B-level league known as the Central States Hockey League (CSHL), the league evolved into the Metro Detroit Junior Hockey League in the early 1980s. The CSHL name was used again from 1994 until 2010. The league was reclassified from Tier III Junior B to Tier III Junior A in the summer of 2007 by USA Hockey.

During the 2008–09 season, it was announced that the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins would join the CSHL for the 2009–10 season, bringing the number of teams to 13. The league returned to 12 teams for 2010–11, as the Dubuque Thunderbirds franchise folded to make way for the return of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League.

On November 1, 2010, it was announced that the North American Hockey League would take control of the CSHL. The NAHL-CSHL affiliation intends for a more structured junior hockey system to provide athletes with more opportunities to advance to college and professional hockey, including a draft of CSHL players into the NAHL. At the time of the take over, the league was renamed to the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).[1]

In May 2011, it was announced that the Granite City Lumberjacks, Minnesota Flying Aces, North Iowa Bulls and the Twin City Steel would join the league beginning with the 2011–12 season bringing the total number of teams in the NA3HL to 16.

In March 2013, the NA3HL announced that its Board of Governors has accepted the membership application for the Chicago Jr. Bulldogs, which began play in the NA3HL during the 2013–14 season. Owned by Ken Kestas, the Bulldogs played home games out of Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville, Illinois.

Quad City Jr. Flames (Davenport, Iowa) relocated to Madison, Wisconsin, in May 2013 and were renamed the Wisconsin Whalers.[2]

In May 2014, the Flint Jr. Generals were purchased and relocated to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and renamed the La Crosse Freeze. The NA3HL announced that the Texas Jr. Brahmas would transfer from the Western States Hockey League and join the South Division.[3] The expansion Nashville Junior Predators and Point Mallard Ducks (Decatur, AL) also joined the South Division bringing its total up to six teams.[3] The American West Hockey League moved to the NA3HL to form new Frontier Division.[4] The Battle Creek Revolution announced it was re-branding as the West Michigan Wolves. The Michigan Mountain Cats were sold and relocated to Jamestown, NY, and called the Southern Tier Xpress.

In April 2015, the NA3HL announced an expansion team in Evansville, Indiana, called the Thunderbolts, to play in the South Division beginning in the 2015–16 season.[5] On May 21–22 of 2015, two additional expansion teams were announced: Rochester Ice Hawks, a member of the former Minnesota Junior Hockey League, was added the West Division,[6] and the Louisiana Drillers playing out of Lafayette, Louisiana was added to the South Division.[7]

On March 4, 2016, it was formally announced that the North American Hockey League's other Tier III league, the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League (NA3EHL), would be added to the NA3HL beginning with the 2016–17 season.[8] The former NA3EHL teams became two new divisions within the NA3HL. On May 21, 2016, the Missoula Bruins youth hockey organization from Missoula, Montana, announced it had been approved as an expansion team in the Frontier Division of the NA3HL. The Missoula Junior Bruins replaced the Missoula Maulers of the Western States Hockey League after arena negotiations with the Maulers' owner fell through.[9]

Prior to the 2017–18 season, the Lockport Express relocated to become the Niagara Falls PowerHawks, the Syracuse Stampede relocated to become the Oswego Stampede, and the West Michigan Wolves relocated to become the Lansing Wolves. The Chicago Jr. Bulldogs, Euless Jr. Stars, and L/A Fighting Spirit franchises were sold; the Bulldogs were relocated as the Wausau RiverWolves, the Jr. Stars re-branded as the Mid-Cities Jr. Stars, and the Fighting Spirit re-branded as the Lewiston/Auburn Nordiques. The Cincinnati Thunder, which had already been playing out of Dayton, re-branded as the Dayton Falcons. The Butte Cobras, formerly of the Western States Hockey League, purchased the Glacier Nationals franchise in order to join the NA3HL. The schedule was set with 47 teams, however, the Butte Cobras and Billings Bulls would both fold prior to playing a game, while the Dayton Falcons, Nashville Junior Predators, and Jersey Shore Wildcats were also removed from the schedules during the season.

In April 2018, the NA3HL announced the entire East Division had left the league including the reigning champions, the Metro Jets, and joined the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). The Butte Cobras were also announced as returning and the Point Mallard Ducks were purchased and relocated to become the Milwaukee Power.[10]

Alumni

Many prominent college and pro hockey players have played in the CSHL at one point in their careers, including 2007 Hobey Baker finalist Eric Ehn (Metro Jets), St. Louis Blues forward and 2010 and 2014 U.S. Olympian Paul Stastny (St. Louis Jr. Blues) and Chris Butler (St. Louis Jr. Blues), now in the St. Louis Blues' organization.

Teams

2019–20 teams

DivisionTeamLocationArenaFoundedJoined
Central Coulee Region ChillLa Crosse, WisconsinGreen Island Ice Arena1998*
Milwaukee PowerMilwaukee, WisconsinWilson Ice Arena2014*
Peoria MustangsPeoria, IllinoisOwens Center2000
Rochester GrizzliesRochester, MinnesotaRochester Recreation Center19962015
St. Louis Jr. BluesAffton, MissouriAffton Ice Rink19781987
Wausau RiverWolvesWausau, WisconsinMarathon County Arena20132017*
Coastal Lewiston/Auburn NordiquesLewiston-Auburn, MaineAndroscoggin Bank Colisee2012*2016
Maine WildBiddeford, MaineBiddeford Arena20132016
New England KnightsRaynham, MassachusettsRaynham IcePlex20112016*
New England StarsTyngsboro, MassachusettsSkate 3 Arena20082016
Northeast GeneralsAttleboro, MassachusettsNew England Sports Village20152016
Frontier Bozeman IcedogsBozeman, MontanaHaynes Pavilion19962014
Butte CobrasButte, MontanaButte Community Ice Center20112014*
Gillette WildGillette, WyomingCampbell County Ice Arena20112014
Great Falls AmericansGreat Falls, MontanaGreat Falls Ice Plex20112014
Helena BighornsHelena, MontanaHelena Ice Arena20042014
Missoula Junior BruinsMissoula, MontanaGlacier Ice Rink2016
Sheridan HawksSheridan, WyomingSheridan Ice M&M’s Center2004*
Yellowstone QuakeCody, WyomingVictor J. Riley Arena20012014
Northeast Danbury ColonialsDanbury, ConnecticutDanbury Ice Arena20142016*
Elmira Jr. Soaring EaglesHorseheads, New YorkMurray Athletic Center20132016*
Long Beach SharksLong Beach, New YorkLong Beach Ice Arena2010[11]2016*
Skylands KingsStockholm, New JerseySkylands Ice World20152016
South Atlanta CapitalsDuluth, GeorgiaAtlanta IceForum2013*
Louisiana DrillersLafayette, LouisianaPlanet Ice Skating and Hockey Arena2015
Mid-Cities Junior StarsEuless, TexasDr. Pepper StarCenter2013
Texas Jr. BrahmasNorth Richland Hills, TexasNYTEX Sports Centre20102014
Texas RoadRunnersCollege Station, TexasSpirit Ice Arena2013*
West Alexandria BlizzardAlexandria, MinnesotaRunestone Community Center2012
Breezy Point North StarsBreezy Point, MinnesotaBreezy Point Hockey Center2012
Granite City LumberjacksSauk Rapids, MinnesotaArmadillo Deck Sports Arena20072011
New Ulm SteelNew Ulm, MinnesotaNew Ulm Civic Center2011*
North Iowa BullsMason City, IowaNorth Iowa Ice Arena2011
Willmar WarHawksWillmar, MinnesotaWillmar Civic Center20072011*

Note: An asterisk (*) donates a franchise move. See respective team articles for more information.

Champions

The league championship trophy is the Fraser Cup. It was originally called the Hurster Cup during the league's time as the Central States Hockey League. In 2012, the cup was then renamed to the Silver Cup.[12] In 2017, the league again renamed the championship to the Fraser Cup after long-time NAHL, NA3HL, and NAPHL Director of Hockey Administration, Robert ‘Fraser’ Ritchie.[13] The winner of the Cup typically receives a bid to compete in the USA Hockey Tier III junior hockey National Championship Tournament, however, the tournament has not been held since 2015.

Season Playoffs winner Nationals results
Jr.B/Tier III Tournament Top qualifier results Runner Up qualifier results
1988St. Louis Jr. BluesJr. B
1989Lytes RustlersJr. B
1990Metro JetsJr. B
1991Wayne ChiefsJr. B
1992Downriver BladesJr. B
1993Wayne ChiefsJr. B
1994St. Louis Jr. BluesJr. B
1995Toledo CherokeeJr. B
1996Motor City ChiefsJr. B
1997Toledo CherokeeJr. B
1998Motor City ChiefsJr. BToledo Cherokee won Jr. B National Championship[14]
1999Toledo CherokeeJr. B
2000St. Louis Jr. BluesJr. B
2001Metro JetsJr. B
2002Metro JetsJr. BMetro Jets won Tier III Jr. B National Championship[14]
2003St. Louis Jr. BluesJr. BSt. Louis Jr. Blues lost Championship game to Phoenix Polar Bears
2004St. Louis Jr. BluesJr. BSt. Louis Jr. Blues won Tier III Jr. B National Championship[14]
2005St. Louis Jr. BluesJr. BSt. Louis Jr. Blues won Tier III Jr. B National Championship[14]
2006St. Louis Jr. BluesJr. B[15]St. Louis Jr. Blues
3-0-0 in Round Robin, 1st of 4, Pool I
Won Semifinal (6-2 vs. Twin Cities Northern Lights)
Tier III Jr. B National Champions (5-4 vs. Toledo Cherokee)
Toledo Cherokee
3-0-0 in Round Robin, 1st of 4, Pool III
Won Semifinal (3-2 vs. Minnesota Ice Hawks)
Lost Championship game (4-5 vs. St. Louis Jr. Blues)
2007Dubuque ThunderbirdsJr. B[16]Dubuque Thunderbirds
2-1-0 in Round Robin, 1st of 4, Pool II
Lost Semifinal (0-3 vs. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs)
St. Louis Jr. Blues
2-1-0 in Round Robin, 2nd of 4, Pool I
Won Semifinal (6-1 vs. Suffolk PAL)
Tier III Jr. B National Champions (4-0 vs. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs)
2008Dubuque ThunderbirdsJr. A[17]Dubuque Thunderbirds
Eliminated 0-2-1 in Round Robin, 3rd of 4, Pool III
Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks
Eliminated 0-3-0 in Round Robin, 4th of 4, Pool II
2009Dubuque ThunderbirdsJr. A[18]Dubuque Thunderbirds
2-0-1 in Round Robin, 1st of 4, Pool II
Lost Semifinal (1-5 vs. New Jersey Hitmen)
St. Louis Jr. Blues
Eliminated 0-2-1 in Round Robin, 3rd of 4, Pool III
2010St. Louis Jr. BluesJr. A[19]St. Louis Jr. Blues
2-1-0 in Round Robin, 1st of 4, Pool III
Won Semifinal (2-1 vs. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs)
Tier III Jr. A National Champions (4-3 vs. South Shore Kings)
Dubuque Thunderbirds
Eliminated 2-1-0 in Round Robin, 2nd of 4, Pool I
2011Chicago HitmenJr. A[20]Chicago Hitmen
Eliminated 0-2-1 in Round Robin, 4th of 4, Pool II
St. Louis Jr. Blues
Eliminated 2-1-0 in Round Robin, 2nd of 4, Pool I
2012Granite City LumberjacksTier III[21]No representatives sent to tournament
2013North Iowa BullsTier III[22]North Iowa Bulls
3-0-0 in Round Robin, 1st of 4, American Div.
Won Semifinal (3-2 vs. Helena Bighorns)
Tier III National Champions (6-2 vs. Twin Cities Northern Lights)
No runner up teams in tournament for 2013
2014North Iowa BullsTier III[23]North Iowa Bulls
3-0-0 in Round Robin, 1st of 4, Pool C
Won Semifinal (5-1 vs. Northern Cyclones)
Lost Championship (1-4 vs. Boston Jr. Bruins)
Flint Jr. Generals
Eliminated 2-1-0 in Round Robin, 3rd of 4, Pool B
2015Granite City LumberjacksDivision 1[24]Granite City Lumberjacks
Eliminated 2-1-0 in Round Robin, 3rd of 4
North Iowa Bulls
2-1-0 in Round Robin, 2nd of 4
Tier III National Champions (2-1 vs. Northern Cyclones)
2016North Iowa BullsTier III Nationals not held
2017Granite City Lumberjacks
2018Metro Jets
2019Texas Jr. Brahmas

Former teams

References

  1. "NA3HL Celebrates 10 Years of Growth and Success". NA3HL. September 16, 2019.
  2. "Quad City Jr. Flames To Be Renamed The Wisconsin Whalers". The Junior Hockey News. 24 May 2013.
  3. Fitts, Colin (May 24, 2014). "NA3HL Club Arrives In Nashville". The Hockey Writers. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  4. "AWHL joins NA3HL". Billings Gazette. 21 March 2014.
  5. "ThunderBolts hockey team introduces owner, head coach". Evansville Courier & Press. 23 July 2015.
  6. "NA3HL approves expansion membership to Rochester Ice Hawks". Junior Hockey News. May 21, 2015.
  7. "NA3HL approves expansion membership to Louisiana Drillers". Junior Hockey News. May 22, 2015.
  8. "NA3EHL to join NA3HL for the 2016-17 season". NA3HL. March 4, 2016.
  9. "New Missoula junior hockey team approved". The Montana Standard. May 21, 2016.
  10. "NA3HL announces divisional alignment and events for 2018-19 season". NA3HL. April 17, 2018.
  11. "page":4,"issue_id":177948} "A Team Grows in Brooklyn". Junior Hockey Magazine. October 2013.
  12. "NA3HL CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT". NA3HL. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  13. "NA3HL names Championship Trophy in memory of Fraser Ritchie". NA3HL. September 11, 2017.
  14. "Junior B Silver Cup". Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  15. "2006 Tier III Junior B Nationals". Pointstreak. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  16. "2007 Tier III Junior B Nationals". Pointstreak. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  17. "2008 Tier III Junior A Nationals". Pointstreak. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  18. "2009 Tier III Jr. A Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  19. "2010 Tier III Jr. A Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  20. "2011 Tier III Jr. A Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  21. "2012 Tier III Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  22. "2013 Tier III Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  23. "2014 Tier III Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  24. "2015 Tier III Junior Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  25. "West Michigan Wolves era in NA3HL to begin in 2014-15". NA3HL. April 1, 2014.
  26. "NA3HL's Billings Bulls Shot In The Head". The Junior Hockey News. September 9, 2017.
  27. "NA3HL announces new markets for the 2019-20 season". NA3HL. April 17, 2019.
  28. "NA3HL's Butte Cobras Killed". The Junior Hockey News. September 8, 2017.
  29. "Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report". OurSports Central. September 16, 2019.
  30. "Chicago Hitmen will not play in 2012-13". NA3HL. May 11, 2012.
  31. "Cincinnati team in NA3HL renamed the Thunder". NA3HL. April 10, 2015.
  32. "NA3HL approves sale and relocation of Cleveland to Wooster, Ohio". NA3HL. February 15, 2015.
  33. "College Station Spirit rebrand to become the Texas RoadRunners". NA3HL. May 9, 2019.
  34. "WEEKLY SPORTS LEAGUE & FRANCHISE REPORT". OurSports Central. July 24, 2017.
  35. "NA3HL's Jr. Stars purchased by Chill, Freeze ownership". NA3HL. August 4, 2015.
  36. "NA3HL approves sale and relocation of Flint to La Crosse, WI". NA3HL. May 6, 2014.
  37. "Glacier Nationals sold, relocated to Butte, Montana to become Cobras". NA3HL. May 26, 2017.
  38. "Express moving to Niagara Falls in 2017-18". NA3HL. March 14, 2017.
  39. "NA3HL approves sale and relocation of Mountain Cats to Jamestown, NY". NA3HL. March 10, 2014.
  40. "NA3HL's Flying Aces purchased, relocated by NAHL Blizzard ownership". Junior Hockey News. May 24, 2016.
  41. "Mountain Cats continue to make great strides". NA3HL. April 21, 2011.
  42. "Point Mallard Ducks purchased and relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin". NA3HL. April 16, 2018.
  43. "Quad City Jr. Flames to relocate to Madison, Wisconsin". NA3HL. May 2, 2013.
  44. "Queen City Steam to become the Cincinnati Swords". NA3HL. April 16, 2013.
  45. "NA3HL team announced in Scottsville, New York". NA3HL.com. May 21, 2018.
  46. "NA3HL team in Rochester, MN announces new ownership group, name". North American Hockey League. April 4, 2018.
  47. "Sugar Land Imperials purchased and relocated to College Station, TX". Junior Hockey News. May 24, 2016.
  48. "Topeka Capitals to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia". NA3HL. June 16, 2015.
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