|North American 3 Hockey League|
|No. of teams||48|
|Most recent champion(s)||North Iowa Bulls (2016)|
The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) is an American Tier III Junior "A" ice hockey league that consists of 34 teams from Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri. The NA3HL is a member of USA Hockey, and the winner of the NA3HL's playoffs goes on to play for the National Championship.
League History[edit | edit source]
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. The past four years, the St. Louis Jr. Blues proved their dominance on the national stage winning the national championship four years in a row. The Jr Blues made history during the 2006-2007 season. They were the first team to win four consecutive national titles, breaking a record that was set over 60 years ago.
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 will return 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 a press release dated June 17, 2013 the league announce plans to expand with 4 teams in South Division for the 2013-14 season (two franchises in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, one in Houston, TX, and Topeka, KS). The league also announced the formation of a West Division for the 2014-15 season (two teams in Southern California, one in San Jose, Ca, and one in Phoenix, AZ). 
The NA3HL and the American West Hockey League announced in March of 2014 that the AWHL was being merged into the league forming its new Frontier Division.
The league announced in May 2014 that it would add three teams to its southern division for the 2014-15 season, the Point Mallard Ducks based in Decatur, Alabama, the Texas Brahmas based in North Richland Hills, Texas to be run by the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL, and a yet to be named team based in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. The Flint Jr. Generals were sold to the same ownership group that owns the Coulee Region Chill. The team is being relocated to La Crosse, Wisconsin and being renamed the La Crosse Freeze.
2015-16[edit | edit source]
The league expanded to 34 teams and went to six divisions.
The league announced the addition of a franchise out of Sandy Springs, Georgia to start play with the 2015-16 season but this team apparently fell through as no further mention was made of the franchise.
The league formally announced the addition of the Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts to the league on April 3, 2015. The team will play in the South Division and be based out of the Swonder Ice Arena. The addition of Evansville will give the South Division 7 teams and the league overall 32 teams. The team is owned by the same ownership group that owns the Point Mallard Ducks organization.
The Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks were relocating to Wooster, Ohio and were to be renamed the Wooster OIlers (the organization originally had two teams with a second in the USPHL's Midwest division, which was eventually dropped.)
On May 22, 2015 the league announce the addition of the Lafayette, Louisiana based Louisiana Drillers as an expansion team. The team will play out of the Planet Ice of Lafayette facility in Lafayette.
on June 15, 2015 the Topeka Capitals announced they were relocating to Atlanta, Georgia and were being renamed the Atlanta Capitals. The team will play at the Center Ice Arena. The move was made due to the league issuing a deadline for the team to commit to the league for 2015-16. The team was at an impasse with arena management over a new lease.
2016-17[edit | edit source]
The league announced that it would add the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League en masse as full members for the 2016-17 season.
On May 22, 2016 a published report on the website  indicated that the league had approved the addition of a team to be known as the Missoula Bruins. Missoula has been the home of the Missoula Maulers of the Amateur Athletic Union-sanctioned Western States Hockey League since 2007 (joining from the American West Hockey League in 2013 after being founded in the NorPac in 2007. Apparently, the Maulers organization had decided to disband earlier in the month due to a lease dispute with the Glacier Ice Rink's operators. 
On May 24, 2016 the NA3HL announced that the Minnesota Flying Aces franchise had been sold to the owners of the Brookings Blizzard and Alexandria Blizzard (Chris and Mitri Canavati). As part of the announcement of the sale, the team was relocating to the Willmar Civic Center Arena in Willmar, Minnesota for the 2016-17 season. The team would take the name Willmar WarHawks
Also on May 24th, the league announced that the Sugar Land Imperials had been sold to the same group that purchased the Chicago Bulldogs a few days earlier, and would be relocated to College Station, Texas and would become known as the College Station Spirit.
On May 26, 2016 the Wilkes-Barre Miners announced they were returning to Binghamton, New York and would be relabeled as the Binghamton Jr Senators which is the name the team had from 2005 to 2010 when the team was a member of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League.
2017-18[edit | edit source]
On March 18, 2017, the Lockport Express announced they would be relocating to the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion in Niagara Falls, New York for the 2017-18 season. The release stated that the organization would also be developing lower level teams along with the ownership of the new arena. The release stated that it was strictly a business decision and that there were no issues with the city or arena in Lockport. The team was renamed the Niagara Falls PowerHawks on April 6th.
It was announced in April 2017, that the West Michigan Wolves were relocating to the The Summit Sports and Ice Complex in Dimondale, Michigan just outside of Lansing, Michigan and would be renamed the Lansing Wolves.
On April 26, 2017, it was announced that the league had approved the sale and relocation of the Chicago Jr. Bulldogs to Wausau, Wisconsin for the 2017-18 season. The team was renamed the Wausau RiverWolves and will be based out of the Marathon County Arena in Wausau. The new owners are also the owners of the New Ulm Steel.
On May 4, 2017, the sale of the Lewiston/Auburn Fighting Spirit was announced. The team was renamed the Lewiston/Auburn Nordiques as an homage to the former Maine Nordiques who played in the North American Hockey League (1973-1977) out of the same arena.
On, May 24, 2017 the Syracuse Stampede announced they were relocating to Oswego, New York and would be renamed the Oswego Stampede. The team will be based out of the Anthony J Crisafulli Arena in Oswego.
On May 26, 2017, the league announced the sale and relocation of the Glacier Nationals from Havre, Montana to Butte, Montana where they will be known as the Butte Cobras based out of the Butte Community Ice Center. The Butte Amateur Hockey Association (BAHA) were the new owners of the team. The BAHA had recently been given ownership of the Butte Cobras franchise that has played in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) since the 2014-15 season. The WSHL team is being moved to the NA3HL with the acquired franchise rights from the Glacier Nationals.
The East Coast Minutemen apparently have been removed from the league for the 2017-18 season as they are no longer listed (noticed on July 13, 2017) on the league website, the team's website is no longer active, and the facebook and twitter pages have not posted since the end of the playoffs from the 2016-17 season. The team was listed on the website on June 6, 2017 
2018-19[edit | edit source]
The league announced its divisional alignment for the 2018-19 season on April 17, 2018. The league alignment consisted of six divisions with the East and Midwest divisions being abandoned. The league was at 37 teams (down from 45 for 2017-18) The three remaining teams (Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts, Peoria Mustangs , and St. Louis Jr. Blues) from the Midwest Divsion were moved to the Central Division.
The whole East Division from 2017-18 are no longer listed on the league website. The Lansing Wolves, Metro Jets, Pittsburgh Vengeance, Southern Tier Xpress, Toledo Cherokee, and Wooster Oilers. It was announced on April 19th that the teams joined the United States Premier Hockey League and would form a Great Lakes Conference within the Premier Division.
The Butte Cobras are announced as returning after being sold/donated to the Butte Amateur Hockey Association and having a problem with getting a large enough roster together for the 2017-18 season. They will play in the Frontier Division.
The Point Mallard Ducks who were in the South Division for 2017-18 were announced as being sold and relocated to Milwaukee for the 2018-19 season. The team will be known as the Milwaukee Power and have been added to the Central Division.
On April 30, 2018 the North American Hockey League announced that the Coulee Region Chill were sold and would be relocated about 90 miles (145km) north to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin playing out of the Chippewa Area Ice Arena. The team is being renamed to the Chippewa Steel. In a related move the La Crosse Freeze of the North American 3 Hockey League would become the Coulee Region Chill while remaining in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The Roc City Royals would fold after the 2017-18 season and be replaced in the area by the Rochester Rivermen who are based out of the Scottsville Ice Arena in nearby Scottsville, New York However, the team would fold sometime in early September before league play began. The Wisconsin Whalers also folded in early September of 2018.
2019-20[edit | edit source]
On April 17, 2019 the league announced some realignment of teams and new organizations expected to join the leauge for the 2019-20 season:
- The Cape Cod Islanders are relocating to Canton, Massachusetts (just south of Boston) and will be based out of the Canton Sportsplex, which was the original home of the Northeast Generals prior to the moving to their new facility in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The team will be renamed the Canton Cubs. The team would be removed from the league schedule due to a lack of player prior to the start of the season.
- After exploring a move to Rapid City, South Dakota the Niagara Falls PowerHawks are relocating to Danbury, Connecticut and be playing out of the Danbury Ice Arena. The team will be named the Danbury Colonials. The city is also getting a team in the Federal Hockey League for the 2019-20 season.
- The Binghamton Jr. Senators are relocating to Elmira, New York and will be renamed the Elmira Jr. Soaring Eagles after the collegiate hockey teams from Elmira College. The team will be based out of the Murray Athletic Center Arena on the campus of the college.
- The Oswego Stampede were sold and are relocating to the Raynham IcePlex in Raynham, Massachusetts where they will be renamed the New England Knights.
- The Wisconsin Whalers are relocating to Sheridan, Wyoming. The team was sold to the group which runs the youth hockey program in the community, The group has worked on covering its rink over the past few years and was looking to grow the program. The team will be known as the Sheridan Hawks.
- The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights of the NAHL are transferring their development team from the Eastern Hockey League to the NA3HL. The team would be removed from the league schedule due to a lack of player prior to the start of the season.
2020-21[edit | edit source]
- The ownership of the Maine Nordiques of the North American Hockey League purchased the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine which was also home of the Lewiston/Auburn Nordiques. It was announced the NA3HL team would be ceasing operations.
- On June 16, 2020 the El Paso Rhinos were added to the league from the Western States Hockey League. They will also join the North American Hockey League for the 2021-22 season.
Alumni[edit | edit source]
Many prominent college and pro hockey players have played in the CSHL at one point in their careers, including 2007 Hobey Baker Award finalist Eric Ehn (Metro Jets), Colorado Avalanche forward and 2010 U.S. Olympian Paul Stastny (St. Louis Jr. Blues) and Chris Butler (St. Louis Jr. Blues), now in the Calgary Flames' organization.
Current Teams[edit | edit source]
Realigned for 2019-20
Withdrew After Schedule Written[edit | edit source]
|Canton Cubs||Canton, Massachusetts||Canton Sportsplex|
|Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights||Pittston, Pennsylvania||Revolution Ice Centre|
Champions[edit | edit source]
Fraser Cup[edit | edit source]
- 2021 - North Iowa Bulls
- 2020 - Playoffs cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
- 2019 - Texas Jr. Brahmas
- 2018 - Metro Jets
Silver Cup[edit | edit source]
- 2017 - Granite City Lumberjacks
- 2016 - North Iowa Bulls
- 2015 - Granite City Lumberjacks
- 2014 - North Iowa Bulls
- 2013 - North Iowa Bulls
- 2012 - Granite City Lumberjacks
Hurster Cup[edit | edit source]
- 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
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Maulers owner explains decision to disband local hockey team. The Missoulian (May 14, 2016).