North American Hockey League

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North American Hockey League
North American Hockey League Logo.svg
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1975
CEO Mark Frankenfeld
No. of teams 24
Country  United States
Most recent
champion(s)
Shreveport Mudbugs (1st title)
Most titles Compuware Ambassadors (11)
Official website www.nahl.com

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) is one of the top junior hockey leagues in the United States and is in its 43rd season of operation in 2018–19. It is the only Tier II junior league sanctioned by USA Hockey, and acts as an alternative to the Tier I United States Hockey League (USHL). The NAHL is the oldest junior hockey league in the United States and is headquartered in Frisco, Texas (they are co-located in the same facility as the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars).[1]

The league consists of four divisions with a total of 24 teams. The teams span the United States from Massachusetts in the East to Alaska in the Northwest and to Texas in the South. The teams play a 60-game regular season, starting in mid-September and ending in early April. The top teams of the NAHL playoffs meet in a predetermined location to play in the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.

Under USA Hockey Tier II sanctioning, NAHL teams do not charge players to play and also provide players with uniforms, team clothing and select equipment such as sticks, gloves and helmets. Players without local family live with billet families in their area and pay a monthly stipend that covers food and other costs. Unlike the Tier I United States Hockey League, there are no roster restrictions in the NAHL on overage players, which allows for the older players to gain extra NCAA exposure as well as teams to retain a veteran core. Teams are still bound to USA Hockey rules regarding import players and presently each team is allowed to have three non-American players on their roster.

From its beginning in 1975, the NAHL was primarily a 6–12-team league based in the Midwest, known as the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League and changed the name to the North American Hockey League in 1984.[2][3] The league's all-time leading scorer is Mike York who tallied 371 points in two seasons.[4] Other notable alumni from the NAHL include Pat Lafontaine, Mike Modano, Doug Weight, Pat Peake, Brian Rolston, Brian Holzinger, Brian Rafalski, Todd Marchant and John Scott. In 2003, the league merged with the defunct America West Hockey League to form a 19-team league.

Teams[edit]

Current teams[edit]

The 2018–19 season has 24 teams playing in 4 divisions:[5]

Division Team Location Arena Founded Joined
Central Aberdeen Wings Aberdeen, South Dakota Odde Ice Center 2010
Austin Bruins Austin, Minnesota Riverside Arena 2010
Bismarck Bobcats Bismarck, North Dakota V.F.W. Sports Center 1997 2003
Brookings Blizzard Brookings, South Dakota Larson Ice Center 2003*
Minnesota Wilderness Cloquet, Minnesota Northwoods Credit Union Arena 2003*
Minot Minotauros Minot, North Dakota Maysa Arena 2011
East Jamestown Rebels Jamestown, New York Northwest Arena 2008*
Johnstown Tomahawks Johnstown, Pennsylvania Cambria County War Memorial Arena 1990*
Maryland Black Bears[6] Odenton, Maryland Piney Orchard Ice Arena 2018
New Jersey Titans Middletown, New Jersey Middletown Ice World Arena 2005*
Northeast Generals Attleboro, Massachusetts New England Sports Village 2016
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Revolution Ice Center 2010*
Midwest Chippewa Steel Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin Chippewa Area Ice Arena 2005*
Fairbanks Ice Dogs Fairbanks, Alaska Big Dipper Ice Arena 1997 2003
Janesville Jets Janesville, Wisconsin Janesville Ice Arena 2009
Kenai River Brown Bears Soldotna, Alaska Soldotna Sports Center 2007
Minnesota Magicians Richfield, Minnesota Richfield Ice Arena 2010*
Springfield Jr. Blues Springfield, Illinois Nelson Center 1993
South Amarillo Bulls Amarillo, Texas Amarillo Civic Center 2008*
Corpus Christi IceRays Corpus Christi, Texas American Bank Center 2001*
Lone Star Brahmas North Richland Hills, Texas NYTEX Sports Centre 1999*
Odessa Jackalopes Odessa, Texas Ector County Coliseum 2008*
Shreveport Mudbugs Shreveport, Louisiana Hirsch Memorial Coliseum 2016
Topeka Pilots Topeka, Kansas Landon Arena 2003*

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise relocation. See respective team articles from more information.

Past teams[edit]

[7]

Timeline of league changes[edit]

2006–07 season: Bozeman Icedogs, Billings Bulls, and Helena Bighorns left the league for the Northern Pacific Hockey League. Cleveland Jr. Barons were granted inactive status for the season. Wasilla Spirit changed names to Alaska Avalanche. Minnesota Blizzard became the Alexandria Blizzard. Texarkana Bandits moved to Chesterfield, Missouri, and became the St. Louis Bandits. Marquette Rangers were added to the league.

2007–08 season: Santa Fe Roadrunners moved to Topeka, Kansas, as the Topeka Roadrunners. The Kenai River Brown Bears started play in the league.

2008–09 season: The Southern Minnesota Express moved to Detroit and became the Motor City Machine.[12] However, the Express' home city of Owatonna was granted another NAHL team for 2008–09, named the Owatonna Express.[13] The Express were joined by another new Minnesota NAHL franschise, the Albert Lea Thunder.[14] The Texas Tornado franchise went on a one-year hiatus as they awaited renovations on their arena. Wenatchee, Washington, was awarded an expansion franchise for the 2008–09 season as the Wenatchee Wild.[15] The Fargo-Moorhead Jets were approved for dormancy.[16]

2009–10 season: The Janesville Jets were awarded an expansion franchise.[17] The Mahoning Valley Phantoms and the USNTDP left the league for the USHL.[18][19] The Texas Tornado returned to the league after taking a year off while their home arena was undergoing renovations.[20] The Motor City franchise's new ownership changed the team's nickname from Machine to Metal Jackets.[21]

2010–11 season: The NAHL Board of Governors accepted membership of several new teams in the league. The Fresno Monsters were awarded an expansion franchise. after having a team in the Tier III Junior A Western States Hockey League. The Corpus Christi IceRays were awarded a franchise formerly known as the Alpena IceDiggers. The Chicago Hitmen joined the North Division and played at West Meadows Ice Arena in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The Marquette Rangers moved to Flint, Michigan, and changed their name to Michigan Warriors. Port Huron joined the North Division and played at McMorran Place in Port Huron, Michigan. The North Iowa Outlaws relocated to become the Coulee Region Chill in Onalaska, Wisconsin. The Aberdeen Wings joined the Central Division and played at the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The Austin Bruins joined the Central Division and played at the Riverside Arena in Austin, Minnesota. The Dawson Creek Rage joined the West Division and played at EnCana Events Centre in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. The Albert Lea Thunder relocate to become the Amarillo Bulls at joined the South Division out of the Amarillo Civic Center in Amarillo, Texas. The New Mexico Mustangs joined the South Division and played at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The Alaska Avalanche relocate to Palmer, Alaska, but keep the same name.

2011–12 season: The Owatonna Express relocate to Odessa, Texas, and become Odessa Jackalopes. The Motor City Metal Jackets relocate to Jamestown, New York, and become Jamestown Ironmen. The Minot Minotauros and Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings granted expansion.

2012–13 season: The Alaska Avalanche relocated to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and became Johnstown Tomahawks. Alexandria Blizzard relocated to Brookings, South Dakota, and became the Brookings Blizzard. Traverse City North Stars franchise purchased by the Soo Eagles and joined the league from Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. The Dawson Creek Rage, New Mexico Mustangs, and St. Louis Bandits takes leaves of absence. The Chicago Hitmen fold.

2013–14 season: The dormant New Mexico Mustangs relocated to Richfield, Minnesota, and became Minnesota Magicians. The Texas Tornado relocated back to North Richland Hills, Texas, and became Lone Star Brahmas. The Minnesota Wilderness joined the league from the Superior International Junior Hockey League by purchasing dormant St. Louis Bandits franchise. The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees purchased the Wenatchee Wild franchise. The Fresno Monsters were relocated to become the second incarnation of the Wenatchee Wild and the Monsters returned to only fielding a team in the Western States Hockey League. The Jamestown Ironmen and Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings ceased operations.

2014–15 season: The Port Huron Fighting Falcons were relocated to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, to become the Keystone Ice Miners, remaining in the North Division, and the Wenatchee Wild moved from the Midwest Division to the South Division.[22]

2015–16 season: On May 1, 2015, the NAHL announced that the dormant Dawson Creek Rage franchise was purchased by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights organization to be an expansion team for the 2015–16 season.[23] The Keystone Ice Miners ceased operations. The Michigan Warriors ceased operations due to the arrival of the major junior Flint Firebirds. The Soo Eagles announced they were returning to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League citing the lack of other local teams as they were the last remaining team in Michigan. The New Jersey Junior Titans organization bought the franchise from the Eagles and relocated to Middleton, New Jersey. The Eagles originally sought membership with the NAHL for the 2012–13 season and returned to the NOJHL for the season 2015–16 season. The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees were relocated to Aston, Pennsylvania and became the Aston Rebels. A new East Division was formed composed of Aston, Johnstown, New Jersey, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Wenatchee Wild organization left the NAHL and joined the Canadian Junior A British Columbia Hockey League.

2016–17 season: The league announced the continued expansion of the East Division by adding the Northeast Generals of Attleboro, Massachusetts. The Generals organization also has a Tier III team in the North American 3 Hockey League (previously in the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League prior to the 2016 league merger). On April 8, 2016, the Shreveport Mudbugs were announced as an expansion team.[24]

2017–18 season: The Wichita Falls Wildcats ceased operations after failing to find a buyer for the franchise.[25] Aston Rebels relocated and renamed as the Philadelphia Rebels.

2018–19 season: The NAHL added another team to its East Division with an expansion franchise granted to the Maryland Black Bears.[6][26] The Coulee Region Chill were sold and relocated as the Chippewa Steel in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and the Philadelphia Rebels became the Jamestown Rebels in Jamestown, New York. The Topeka RoadRunners were sold and rebranded as the Topeka Pilots.[11]

Robertson Cup winners[edit]

The Robertson Cup Championship is a playoff series held at the end of the NAHL season. The trophy is awarded annually to the USA Hockey Tier II junior national playoff champion. The Cup is the oldest junior hockey trophy in the United States and is named in honor of Chuck Robertson, a pioneer of junior hockey in the NAHL and youth hockey in the state of Michigan.[citation needed] Chuck Robertson was the owner of the Paddock Pool Saints when they won a record seven straight NAHL championships from 1976 to 1983.

As of the 2017–18 season[27]

  • 1976 – Detroit Little Caesars
  • 1977 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1978 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1979 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1980 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1981 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1982 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1983 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1984 – St. Clair Shores Falcons
  • 1985 – St. Clair Shores Falcons
  • 1986 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1987 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1988 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1989 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1990 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1991 – Kalamazoo Jr. K Wings
  • 1992 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1993 – Kalamazoo Jr. K Wings
  • 1994 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1995 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1996 – Springfield Jr. Blues
  • 1997 – Springfield Jr. Blues
  • 1998 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1999 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 2000 – Danville Wings
  • 2001 – Texas Tornado
  • 2002 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 2003 – Pittsburgh Forge
  • 2004 – Texas Tornado
  • 2005 – Texas Tornado
  • 2006 – Texas Tornado
  • 2007 – St. Louis Bandits
  • 2008 – St. Louis Bandits
  • 2009 – St. Louis Bandits
  • 2010Bismarck Bobcats
  • 2011 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs
  • 2012 – Texas Tornado
  • 2013 – Amarillo Bulls
  • 2014 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs
  • 2015 – Minnesota Wilderness
  • 2016 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs
  • 2017 – Lone Star Brahmas
  • 2018 – Shreveport Mudbugs

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Contact Us - North American Hockey League - NAHL". www.nahl.com. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  2. ^ http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/149.html
  3. ^ "NAHL History". NAHL. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  4. ^ "NAHL ALL-TIME REGULAR SEASON STATS". Elite Prospects. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  5. ^ "NAHL announces divisional alignment, events for 2017-18 season". NAHL. May 26, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "NAHL team in Maryland approved for the 2018-19 season". NAHL. April 12, 2018. 
  7. ^ "North American Hockey League [1984-2015] history and statistics". HockeyDB. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  8. ^ Jack McCarthy (April 24, 2003). "Freeze hockey team shuts down". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Detroit Little Caesars Statistics and History". HockeyDB. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Rebel Yell". The Post-Journal. June 13, 2018. 
  11. ^ a b "Topeka Pilots — RoadRunners get a new name". WIBW-TV. June 5, 2018. 
  12. ^ NAHL.com, Machine Motors into Michigan, May 2, 2008
  13. ^ NAHL.com, Owatonna membership approved for 2008–09, May 19, 2008
  14. ^ Startribune.com, Albert Lea awarded NAHL franchise, May 1, 2008
  15. ^ Wenatchee World, Finally we have a hockey team, May 14, 2008
  16. ^ NAHL.com, Fargo-Moorhead ceases operations, May 19, 2008
  17. ^ NAHL.com, Jets touch down in Janesville, June 5, 2009
  18. ^ NAHL.com, Zoldan, NAHL make a deal, August 13, 2009
  19. ^ NAHL.com, NTDP to no longer compete in NAHL, February 26, 2008
  20. ^ NAHL.com, Tornado to hit the ice again in 2009-10, April 29, 2009
  21. ^ NAHL.com, Motor City changes nickname, logo, June 25, 2009
  22. ^ NAHL.com, NAHL announces teams, alignment for 2014-15 season, May 14, 2014
  23. ^ "Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights join NAHL in 2015-16 season". North American Hockey League (NAHL). Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  24. ^ "Shreveport Mudbugs accepted into the NAHL for the 2016-17 season". OurSports Central. April 8, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Wildcats' season ends with 4-3 overtime loss". Times Record News. April 22, 2017. 
  26. ^ "NAHL team in Maryland to be called the Black Bears". NAHL.com. May 9, 2018. 
  27. ^ "Robertson Cup". NAHL. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 

External links[edit]