Helena Bighorns

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Helena Bighorns
Helena Bighorns logo.png
City Helena, Montana
League NA3HL
Division Frontier
Founded 2004 (In the NorPac)
Home arena Helena Ice Arena
Colors Blue, Black and White
              
Owner(s) Oren Koules
Head coach Bob Richards (2016–17)
Website www.helenabighorns.com
Franchise history
2004–2006 Queen City Cutthroats
2006–present Helena Bighorns

The Helena Bighorns are a Tier III Junior A ice hockey team in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) based in Helena, Montana United States. The team plays their home games at the 1,600-seat Helena Ice Arena. The team is owned by Oren Koules, president of Evolution Entertainment and former part-owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL). The Helena Bighorns were members of the NorPac from 2007 to 2011. In 2011, the American West Division of the NorPac league broke away to form the American West Hockey League. In the March of 2014, the NA3HL accepted the AWHL as a new Frontier Division.[1]

History[edit]

The original Helena Bighorns were members of the former Tier II America West Hockey League from 2001 to 2003 after replacing the departed Helena Gold Rush that had operated last in the 1999–2000 season (formerly known as the Helena Ice Pirates from 1994 to 1999). In 2003, the AWHL merged with the larger Tier II North American Hockey League and the Bighorns played in the NAHL until 2006.

In 2004, the Tier III Northern Pacific Hockey League (NorPac) expanded into Helena with the Queen City Cutthroats and were immediately successful, winning the Cascade Cup in their first year. In 2006, the NAHL Bighorns withdrew from the NAHL and the NorPac franchise would take the name of the formerly higher level team beginning with the 2006–07 season.

NorPac years (2004–11)[edit]

The Helena Bighorns/Queen City Cutthroats won six straight NorPac America West Division Championships between 2005 and 2010.[2] They also won the NorPac Cascade Cup six times, 2005, 2006 and four straight from 2008 to 2011.[3]

American West years (2011–14)[edit]

The Helena Bighorns have won three straight American West Hockey League Championships in the 2011–12, 2012–13, and 2013–14 AWHL seasons[4] prior to the league merging with the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) in 2014.

Season-by-season records[edit]

Season GP W L OTL Pts GF GA PIM Regular Season Finish Playoffs
North American 3 Hockey League
2014–15 47 34 11 2 70 194 98 1,073 2nd of 7, Frontier Div.
5th of 31, NA3HL
Won Div. Semifinals, 2-1 vs. Gillette Wild
Lost Div. Finals, 0-2 vs. Great Falls Americans
2015–16 47 26 21 0 52 174 155 1,136 5th of 7, Frontier Div.
19th of 34, NA3HL
Did not qualify

Tier III Junior Hockey National Championship[edit]

In 2005 and 2006, the Queen City Cutthroats participated in the USA Hockey Tier III Junior B National Tournament. In 2007, NorPac and its teams were promoted to Tier III Junior A status and the Bighorns competed in the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Junior A National Tournaments. In 2011, USA Hockey dropped the A and B designations but sometimes had the leagues split into different divisions during the tournament (American/National for 2012 or Div 1/Div 2 for 2015 with 2013 and 2014 having all leagues compete in one tournament). The Bighorns represented the American West Hockey League in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

In 2011, the Helena Bighorns won the Tier III Junior A Hockey National Championships by defeating the El Paso Rhinos 5-1 in Rochester, Minnesota.[5] The Helena Bighorns won the bronze medal at the 2014 USA Hockey Tier III National championships.

Round robin play in pool with top 4 teams advancing to semi-final.

Year Round Robin Record Standing Semifinal Championship
2006[6] W, Boston Jr. Bruins (EmJHL) 3-1
L, Phoenix Polar Bears (WSHL) 4-8
L, St. Louis Jr. Blues (CSHL) 1-5
1-2-0 3rd of 4
Div. I
Did not advance
2008[7] L, Northern Cyclones (AtJHL) 1-5
W, Minnesota Ice Hawks (MnJHL) 4-2
W, Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks (CSHL) 5-0
2-1-0 2nd of 4
Div. II
Did not advance
2009[8] W, New York Bobcats (AtJHL) 3-1
W, El Paso Rhinos (WSHL) 4-3
L, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) 3-6
2-1-0 2nd of 4
Div. I
Did not advance
2010[9] L, Dubuque Thunderbirds (CSHL) 2-4
W, Boulder Bison (WSHL) 5-0
T, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) 3-3
1-1-1 3rd of 4
Div. I
Did not advance
2011[10] W, Rochester Ice Hawks (MnJHL) 6-1
W, Queen City Steam (NA3HL) 4-0
L, Walpole Express (AtJHL) 3-4
2-1-0 1st of 4
Pool III
W, Walpole Express (AtJHL) 4-3 W, El Paso Rhinos (WSHL) 5-1
NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
2012[11] L, Long Island Royals (MetJHL) 1-3
L, Atlanta Junior Knights (EJHL South) 0-1
W, Chicago Junior Bulldogs (NA3HL) 10-3
1-2-0 3rd of 4
Pool I, National Div.
Did not advance
2013[12] OTW, New Jersey Rockets (MetJHL) 2-1
W, Boch Blazers (ESHL) 11-2
L, Atlanta Junior Knights (EJHL South) 3-5
2-1-0 2nd of 4
American Pool
OTL, North Iowa Bulls (NA3HL) 2-3
2014[13] W, Marquette Royales (MnJHL) 6-2
L, Boston Jr. Bruins (USPHL Premier) 0-6
L, New Hampshire Jr Monarchs (EHL) 3-5
1-2-0 3rd of 4
Red Pool
Did not advance

Alumni[edit]

The Bighorns have had a number of alumni move on to NCAA Division I, Division III, ACHA collegiate programs, higher levels of junior ice hockey, and professional ice hockey.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.na3hl.com/news/story.cfm?id=11149
  2. ^ "Bighorns Capture Sixth Straight Division Championship". Helena Bighorns Hockey Club. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  3. ^ "Bighorns Storm Past Seattle for Third Straight Cascade Cup Championship". Helena Bighorns Hockey Club. 2010-03-14. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  4. ^ "Bighorns complete sweep of Quake for 8th league title". Independent Record. March 30, 2013. Retrieved April 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Helena Bighorns capture hockey national championship". Independent Record. April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ "2006 Tier III Jr. B Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  7. ^ "2008 Tier III Jr. A Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  8. ^ "2009 Tier III Jr. A Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  9. ^ "2010 Tier III Jr. A Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  10. ^ "2011 Tier III Jr. A Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  11. ^ "2012 Tier III Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 19, 2015. 
  12. ^ "2013 Tier III Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  13. ^ "2014 Tier III Nat. Championships". USA Hockey. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Alumni". Helena Bighorns Hockey Club. 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 

External links[edit]