Glacier Nationals to move to Havre, Montana
April 22, 2014
The Glacier Nationals of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) have officially announced their intention to move to Havre, Montana. Club General Manager Butch Kowalka made the announcement of the three-year contract signed April 2nd with the Havre Youth Hockey Association. The contract, with options for renewal, should be the beginning of a long and positive relationship with the community of Havre and surrounding areas.
With new membership in the NA3HL the Nationals have retooled more than just their head coach. In what will be considered a major improvement in the educational opportunities for the Junior players, the move next to Montana State University-Northern is critical.
"As we move forward in the improved hockey development and exposure model of the NA3HL, we also need to upgrade our educational diversity," stated GM Kowalka. "We are looking to attract a much more focused and dedicated student athlete in the NA3HL. A player who is focused on a direct line of exposure to the NAHL and being the best player he can be, but also planning for his future career and making real strides to achieve those goals. That is what we can now offer in Havre, MT with MSU-Northern."
As the largest city in the HI-Line and the county seat of Hill County, Havre serves as a wholesale distribution and retail center for communities within the area. Nestled right between Great Falls Montana and Medicine Hat Alberta, Havre offers plenty of hockey opportunities for junior aged players 16-20.
The diverse geography of the Milk River, Fresno Reservoir, golden wheat fields and the rising peaks of the Bear Paw Mountains towering several thousand feet above the plains make Havre an affordable four season playground. From some of the best Elk/Deer/Antelope hunting and Lake/River fishing in Montana as well as skiing at the Bear Paw Ski Bowl
Havre is a perfect fit for the avid outdoorsman. Along with the diverse culture of Havre, it is also home to Montana State University-Northern, offering a full range of 4 year, 2 year and accreditation courses perfectly suited for the student athlete.
"MSU-Northern has a large pool of classes to fit whatever needs our players have," stated GM Kowalka. "From a degree in Diesel Technologies that is only offered at two schools in the nation or the fast track programs which can get our players ready in one season for the workforce, MSU-Northern has everything we are looking for."
Getting players prepared for the NAHL and into college is the main focus of the whole Glacier Nationals organization, primarily Head Coach Kyle Bailey. "I am very excited about our move to Havre, MT. Returning and incoming players will have a great opportunity to start a winning tradition here. Our goal as an organization is not only about winning hockey games but also to develop our players into better all-round hockey players so they are ready for the next level whether that be in the NAHL, USHL or college," Bailey said. "The teams move to the NA3HL links us directly to the NAHL and will be our main focus in moving our players up. I will be using my experience of both playing and coaching in the NAHL to develop our players into the type of players that the NAHL teams are looking for."
The NA3HL will provide plenty of opportunity to showcase that player development with two showcase tournaments as well as the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship before the USA Hockey National Championships. With this level of National exposure the NA3HL is unmatched in development and exposure. The NA3HL benefits are also a very positive step forward for the local hockey community.
With a thriving youth program in Havre, the Nationals will continue their efforts to give back to the local players and community. As the (AWHL) league Community Service Award winner in 2012-13 and 2013-14 as well as the Scholastic Award winner in 2012-13, the Nationals are serious and deliver on their promise to create great men as well as hockey players.
"Continuing to be acknowledged by the league as well as receiving awards from both Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters this past season, proves we walk the walk with our players. We are committed to good works in our community," declared Kowalka.
These benefits are also evident to the Havre Youth Hockey Association (HYHA). "Havre youth hockey is very excited to be bringing the Glacier Nationals to the HI-Line community. This is a tremendous opportunity to continue the growth of our youth and adult programs, using the junior players and coaches to increase the excitement of our already expanding association. The support and anticipation from Havre and the surrounding areas is already through the roof, as many of us get asked about the Nationals daily," stated Brett Patrick HYHA Board Member.
Besides the warm welcome from Havre, the Nationals have made a major facility improvement in the process. As the Havre Ice Dome has three times the seating capacity of their previous rink and should easily be able to handle well over 1,000 fans per game. The heated bleachers also provide a suitable environment for the fans to enjoy the Nationals games. "Having a facility with heat and a growing vibrant youth hockey association cannot be overstated. The HYHA's commitment to the American Developmental Model of USA Hockey is a very positive upgrade and we hope to help them in any way we can," declared GM Kowalka.
Moving East also puts the Nationals in a much closer proximity to the rest of the Frontier Division. Cutting the average road trip time in half, the Nationals players will spend much less time on the bus. More than four days per season to be specific. "Players don't develop on the bus, they need ice time. We can offer ten hours of on ice instruction per week as the standard with plenty of extra time for youth volunteering," said Coach Bailey. "Our longest road trip will be just over seven hours once a season, with many trips three hours or less. Our season average will be just 3.5 hours per trip. That is better than most all the teams in the west. Especially when compared to other leagues in the west, this is a huge advantage. Development is the focus here both on and off the ice."
Any players or parents who are interested in getting more information on the Glacier Nationals and the NA3HL should visit their website. Any questions about upcoming camps and tryouts should be directed to Head Coach Kyle Bailey. Any questions about schooling, billeting, Havre activities or information for community involvement please contact GM Butch Kowalka.