North American 3 Hockey League
|No. of teams||34|
|Most recent champion(s)||Granite City Lumberjacks|
The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) is an American Tier III ice hockey league that consists of 34 teams from Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The NA3HL is a member of USA Hockey, and the winner of the NA3HL's playoffs goes on to play for the National Championship against the champions of the five other Tier III leagues and a host city.
The league began as the a Junior B-level league known as the Central States Hockey League (CSHL), during the early 1980s it was known as Metro Detroit Junior Hockey League. but returned to the CSHL name until 2010. The league moved up from Junior B to Tier III Junior A status in the summer of 2007 because it was considered to be one of the top Junior B leagues in the United States.
During the 2008-2009 season, it was announced that the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins would be joining the CSHL for the 2009-2010 season, bringing the number of teams to 13. The league returned to 12 teams for 2010-11, as the Dubuque Thunderbirds franchise folded making room for the return of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in United States Hockey League.
On November 1, 2010 it was announced that the North American Hockey League would take control of the CSHL immediately. The NAHL-CSHL affiliation allows for a more structured Jr. hockey system to provide athletes with more opportunities to advance to college and pro hockey. At the time of the take over the league was renamed to the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).
In May 2011 it was announced that the Granite City Lumberjacks, Minnesota Flying Aces, North Iowa Bulls and the Twin City Steel would be joining the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) beginning with the 2011-2012 season bringing the total number of teams in the NA3HL to 16.
In March 2013 The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) has announced that its Board of Governors has accepted the membership application for the Chicago Jr. Bulldogs, which will begin play in the NA3HL during the 2013-14 season. The team, which is owned by Ken Kestas will play its home games out of Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville, Illinois.
May 2013 it was announced that the Quad City Jr. Flames (Davenport, Iowa) would be relocated to Madison, Wisconsin and renamed the Wisconsin Whalers.
May 2014 it was announced that the Flint Generals had been purchased and would be moved to LaCrosse, Wisconsin and renamed the Freeze. It was also announced that the Texas Jr. Brahmas would be transferring from the Western States Hockey League (AAU) and joining the NA3HL South Division. Also joining the South Division will be an expansion team from Nashville as well as the Point Mallard Ducks (Decatur, AL). Also announced that the American West Hockey League will have all current teams move to the NA3HL as the new Frontier Division. The Battle Creek Revolution announced it was re-branding to the West Michigan Wolves. The Michigan Mountain Cats were sold and the team relocated to Jamestown, NY, and will now be known as 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. On May 21 and 22 of 2015, two additional expansion teams were announced. The Rochester Ice Hawks, a member of the former Minnesota Junior Hockey League, was added the West Division, and the Louisiana Drillers playing out of Lafayette, Louisiana was added to the South Division.
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 Calgary Flames' organization.
Note that McKinney Warriors ceased operations early in the 2013-2014 season.
- 2015-Granite City Lumberjacks
- 2014-North Iowa Bulls
- 2013-North Iowa Bulls
- 2012-Granite City Lumberjacks
- 2011-Chicago Hitmen
- 2010-St. Louis Jr. Blues
- 2009-Dubuque Thunderbirds
- 2008-Dubuque Thunderbirds
- 2007-Dubuque Thunderbirds
- 2006-St. Louis Jr. Blues
- 2005-St. Louis Jr. Blues
- 2004-St. Louis Jr. Blues
- 2003-St. Louis Jr. Blues
- 2002-Metro Jets
- 2001-Metro Jets
- 2000-St. Louis Jr. Blues
- 1999-Toledo Cherokee
- 1998-Motor City Chiefs
- 1997-Toledo Cherokee
- 1996-Motor City Chiefs
- 1995-Toledo Cherokee
- 1994-St. Louis Jr. Blues
- 1993-Wayne Chiefs
- 1992-Downriver Blades
- 1991-Wayne Chiefs
- 1990-Metro Jets
- 1989-Lytes Rustlers
- 1988-St. Louis Jr. Blues
- Fitts, Colin (May 24, 2014). "NA3HL Club Arrives In Nashville". The Hockey Writers. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- "AWHL joins NA3HL". Billings Gazette. March 21, 2014. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- "NA3HL approves new membership in Evansville, Indiana". NA3HL. April 3, 2015.
- "NA3HL approves expansion membership to Rochester Ice Hawks". Junior Hockey News. May 21, 2015.
- "NA3HL approves expansion membership to Louisiana Drillers". Junior Hockey News. May 22, 2015.