- see also North American Hockey League (1973–1977) (Former minor hockey league) and Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (based out of Quebec
|North American Hockey League|
|No. of teams||23|
|Country(ies)|| United States|
|Most recent champion(s)||Lone Star Brahmas (1st championship)|
|Most championship(s)||Compuware Ambassadors (11)|
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) was founded in 1975 as the North American Hockey League. The league was renamed the North American Junior Hockey League in 1984. The league dropped the word "junior" from its title in 1992. The league merged defunct America West Hockey League merged in 2003 to form a 21-team Junior A Tier II league, sanctioned by USA Hockey. The NAHL currently acts as an alternative to the United States Hockey League (USHL). In 2010 the league reached an agreement with the Central States Hockey League for the CSHL to become a feeder league to the NAHL and the CSHL was renamed the North American 3 Hockey League.
The league currently 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 West. It also spans from Alaska in the north to Texas in the south. The teams play a 60-game regular season, starting in mid-September and ending in early April. Until the 2012-13 season the winner of each division will joined a host team of the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, a five team round-robin event. The format was changed to a format where the highest remaining seed play the lowest remaining seed and the 2nd highest seed plays the 3rd highest seed in the semifinals and the semifinal winners meet in the final for the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
In the spring of 2015 Lewiston, Maine was approved as a location for a new team for the 2015-16 NAHL Season however, the ownership group withdrew the application citing a lack of time to get prepared for the season. The group stated that they are intending to re-apply for membership for the 2016-17 season, however no action was taken for 2016-17. The Brooklyn Aviators of the United States Premier Hockey League were working on purchasing the rights to the Flint, Michigan-based Michigan Warriors franchise who were left homeless as a result of the sale of the Compuware Arena in Plymouth Township, Michigan which had the USA Hockey National Team Development Program relocate to Plymouth and the subsequent relocation of the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League to Flint, this transaction did not come to fruition either.
On the afternoon of June 1, 2015 The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees Twitter page posted the following: "Barring a last minute save this afternoon will mark the final day of operation for the NAHL RGV Killer Bees. Thanks to one and ALL!!". The website thejuniorhockeynews.com posted the story stating that the team was on its way to Aston, PA, which is the present home of the Eastern Hockey League's Philadelphia Little Flyers organization. The team was later saved in a tweet early evening on June 5th stated that the Killer Bees will be back during a 48 hour extension on finding local ownership. The team was apparently unable to find a local owner as it was  on June 8th that the organization was moving to Aston, PA and were taking the name Aston Rebels.
On October 22, 2015 a press conference was held in Shreveport, Louisiana to announce the addition of the Shreveport Mudbugs. The previous Mudbugs teams was founded in 1997 and played in the Central Hockey League until folding in 2011. The Hirsch Colisuem is undergoing a $1.5 million upgrade and will once again have an ice surface. The new team will commence play with the start of the 2016-17 season.
On April 1, 2016 the league announced the addition of the Northeast Generals organization for the 2016-17 season. The organization had been accepted as a member of the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League for the 2015-16 season with a team that was based out of Canton, Massachusetts. The NAHL team will be based out of the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, MA. The team also announced plans to play some games at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University and Matthews Arena on the campus of Northeastern University. The NA3EHL (now NA3HL) team will continue to operate.
On April 30, 2018 the 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 will have their membership transferred to nearby Onalaska, Wisconsin and would become the Coulee Region Chill to replace the NAHL team in that city.
On February 28, 2019 the announced the addition of two separate expansion teams that are schedule to join the league for the 2019-20 NAHL season, the Albuquerque based New Mexico Ice Wolves and the Lewiston, Maine based Maine Nordiques.
On June 3, 2019 the league's Board of Governors announced approval of the relocation of the Brookings Blizzard to St. Cloud, Minnesota for the 2019-20 season. The team will be renamed the St. Cloud Blizzard and will be based out of the Dave Torre Arena in the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex.
On October 15, 2019 the league announced the addition of a team to be based out of the Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls, Texas for the 2020-21 season. The team was later announced as being named the Wichita Falls Warriors.
On May 11, 2020 the NAHL announced it had approved the relocation of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights to Danbury, Connecticut for the 2020-21 season. The team will be named the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks and play out of the Danbury Ice Arena.
After being announced as relocating to the greater Kansas City area in late February of 2020, the Topeka Pilots are renamed the Kansas City Scouts on May 12th. The team will be based out of the the Kansas City Ice Center in Shawnee, Kansas.
Teams[edit | edit source]
Past teams (Including GLJHL years)[edit | edit source]
League changes[edit | edit source]
2006–2007 season: Bozeman Icedogs, Billings Bulls, and Helena left the league for the Northern Pacific Hockey League. Cleveland Jr. Barons were granted inactive status for the season. Wasilla Spirit changed name to Alaska Avalanche. Minnesota Blizzard changed name to Alexandria Blizzard. Texarkana Bandits moved to Chesterfield, Missouri and changed name to St. Louis Bandits. Marquette Rangers were added to the league.
2008-2009 season: The Southern Minnesota Express moved to Detroit and changed their name to the Motor City Machine. However, the Express' home city of Owatonna was granted another NAHL team for 2008-09, named the Owatonna Express. . The Express are joined by another new Minnesota NAHL franschise, the Albert Lea Thunder.  The Texas Tornado franchise will go dark for a year as they await renovations on their arena. Wenatchee, Washington has been awarded an expansion franchise for the 2008-09 season.  The Fargo-Moorhead Jets are approved for dormancy. .
2009-2010 season: The Janesville Jets are awarded an expansion franchise.  The Mahoning Valley Phantoms leave the league for the USHL.  The USNTDP also leave the league.  The Texas Tornado return to the league after taking a year off while their home arena was undergoing renovations.  The Motor City franchise's new ownership changes the team's nickname from Machine to Metal Jackets. 
2010-2011 season: The NAHL Board of Governors accepted membership of several new teams to play this season in the league. The Fresno Monsters are awarded an expansion franchise. The Monsters played in the Tier III A Western States Hockey League before getting switched over to the North American Hockey League for the 2010-2011 season. They will play at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California. The Corpus Christi IceRays relocated from Alpena, Michigan. They will play in the South Division at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Chicago Hitmen joined the North Division and will play starting this season at West Meadows Ice Arena in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The Marquette Rangers moved to Flint, Michigan and changed their name to Michigan Warriors. The Michigan Warriors will play in the North Division at the Perani Arena and Event Center. Port Huron joined the North Division and will play starting this season at McMorran Place in Port Huron, Michigan. The Coulee Region Chill joined the Central Division and will play at Onalaska OmniCenter in Onalaska, Wisconsin. The Aberdeen Wings joined the Central Division and will play at the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The Austin Bruins joined the Central Division and will play at the Riverside Arena in Austin, Minnesota. The Dawson Creek Rage joined the West Division and will play at EnCana Events Centre in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. The Amarillo Bulls joined the South Division and will play at Amarillo Civic Center in Amarillo, Texas. The New Mexico Mustangs joined the South Division and will play at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
2011-12 season: The Motor City Metal Jackets relocated to Jamestown, New York and are renamed the Jamestown Ironmen. The Owatonna Express relocate to Odessa, Texas and are renamed the Odessa Jackalopes replacing the CHL team.
2012-13 season: The New Mexico Mustangs sit out the season. The Traverse City North Stars were sold and relocated to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and were renamed the Soo Eagles. The Alaska Avalanche were sold and moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania and were renamed the Johnstown Tomahawks. The Alexandria Blizzard relocate to Brookings, South Dakota and are renamed the Brookings Blizzard. The St. Louis Bandits suspend operations. The Dawson Creek Rage folded after a failed attempt to join the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The Chicago Hitmen originally annouce they will sit out the season but they fold on May 11, 2012.
2013-14 season: The Wenatchee Wild relocated to Hidalgo, Texas and are renamed the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and are replaced in Wenatchee by the Fresno Monsters who take over the Wild name. The Texas Tornado are renamed the Fort Worth Brahmas and then the Lone Star Brahmas when the sale of the franchise is completed. The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings ceased operations. The Jamestown Ironmen go inactive for the season (they would fold prior to the 2014-15 season). The St. Louis Bandits franchise is transferred to Cloquet, Minnesota, where the team becomes known as the Minnesota Wilderness. An expansion team is awarded to Richfield, Minnesota that becomes known as the Minnesota Magicians.
On May 9, 2014 it was announce the Port Huron Fighting Falcons were approved for relocation to Connellsville, Pennsylvania for the 2014-15 season. The team will be known as the Keystone Ice Miners. The team would end up being taken over by the league in December 2014 and run until the end of the season when the franchise was folded
The Michigan Warriors were informed that there lease would not be renewed at the Perani Arena and Event Center in Flint, Michigan as the former Plymouth Whalers would move to the arena after their arena in Plymouth, Michigan is sold to USA Hockey with the intent of making the arena home to the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. On April 30, 2015 the Wenatchee Wild were approved by USA Hockey and Hockey Canada to transfer from the NAHL to the British Columbia Hockey League. The Wild had been trying since 2013 to make this transfer but could not get approval from both national governing bodies. The Wild organization motivation for the move was simply that the BCHL was a better fit travel wise, with the potential savings of tens of thousands of dollars just on travel expenses.
For the 2016-17 season the league has announced the addition of the Shreveport Mudbugs (replacing a former Central Hockey League team that folded in 2011) and the Northeast Generals (based in Attleboro, Massachusetts, but will also play some home games in Boston at Walter Brown Arena (Boston University) and Matthews Arena (Northeastern University). The Generals will continue to operate their franchise in the North American 3 Hockey League which was launched for the 2015-16 season.
For 2017-18 the Wichita Falls Wildcats go on hiatus. They would fold during the season. The Aston Rebels are renamed the Philadelphia Rebels when they relocate to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena.
For 2018-19 the Philadelphia Rebels relocated to Jamestown, New York and are renamed the Jamestown Rebels. The Coulee Region Chill are sold and moved to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin where they become the Chippewa Steel. The league adds an expansion team based out of Odenton, Maryland to be named the Maryland Black Bears.
Robertson Cup winners[edit | edit source]
- 2019 - Aberdeen Wings
- 2018 - Shreveport Mudbugs
- 2017 - Lone Star Brahmas
- 2016 - Fairbanks Ice Dogs
- 2015 - Minnesota Wilderness
- 2014 - Fairbanks Ice Dogs
- 2013 - Amarillo Bulls
- 2012 - St. Louis Bandits
- 2011 - Fairbanks Ice Dogs
- 2010 - Bismarck Bobcats
- 2009 - St. Louis Bandits
- 2008 - St. Louis Bandits
- 2007 - St. Louis Bandits
- 2006 - Texas Tornado
- 2005 - Texas Tornado
- 2004 - Texas Tornado
- 2003 - Pittsburgh Forge
- 2002 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 2001 - Texas Tornado
- 2000 - Danville Wings
- 1999 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1998 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1997 - Springfield Jr. Blues
- 1996 - Springfield Jr. Blues
- 1995 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1994 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1993 - Kalamazoo Jr. Wings
- 1992 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1991 - Kalamazoo Jr. Wings
- 1990 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1989 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1988 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1987 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1986 - Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
- 1985 - St. Clair Falcons
- 1984 - St. Clair Falcons
- 1983 - Paddock Pool Saints
- 1982 - Paddock Pool Saints
- 1981 - Paddock Pool Saints
- 1980 - Paddock Pool Saints
- 1979 - Paddock Pool Saints
- 1978 - Paddock Pool Saints
- 1977 - Paddock Pool Saints
- 1976 - Detroit Little Caesars
League Tie-Breakers[edit | edit source]
For playoff standings the league using the following steps for breaking ties:
- 1. Most wins during the regular season
- 2. Head-to-head record
- 3. Head-to-head goal differential
- 4. League play goal differential
- 5. Coin flip
References[edit | edit source]
- NAHL.com, Machine Motors into Michigan, 2nd May 2008
- NAHL.com, Owatonna membership approved for 2008-09, 19th May 2008
- Startribune.com, Albert Lea awarded NAHL franchise, 1st May 2008
- Wenatchee World, Finally we have a hockey team, 14th May 2008
- NAHL.com, Fargo-Moorhead ceases operations, 19th May 2008
- NAHL.com, Jets touch down in Janesville, 5th June 2009
- NAHL.com, Zoldan, NAHL make a deal, 13th August 2009
- NAHL.com, NTDP to no longer compete in NAHL, 26th February 2008
- NAHL.com, Tornado to hit the ice again in 2009-10, 29th April 2009
- NAHL.com, Motor City changes nickname, logo, 25th June 2009