Proven Pathway: NA3HL to the NAHL
September 7, 2017
With the 2017-18 hockey season underway, many players have made the decision on where to continue their junior hockey careers.
When deciding, it is important for these players and their families to know the facts when it comes to what options are available for the player who has aspirations to continue their hockey career and advance to the highest levels possible.
This is the main reason that the NA3HL is still a step above the rest when it comes to the development path.
The NA3HL is the best and most competitive USA Hockey-certified Tier III Junior Hockey League. With 44 teams, the NA3HL is also the largest and most diverse USA Hockey-certified Tier III junior league in the United States.
The primary mission of the NA3HL is to develop and advance players and because of its direct affiliation with the NAHL, no other Tier III junior league advances more players to NAHL.
This past season, no other league has had more movement and advanced more players onto play in the NAHL than the NA3HL. As one of only three Tier III junior hockey leagues that are certified by USA Hockey, the NA3HL is also the only league that has an exclusive NAHL tendering system available only to NA3HL players. This sets the stage for a proven and quantifiable NA3HL-NAHL pipeline with 60+ advancements annually. The NA3HL also had over 120+ college commitments in 2016-17, with the number still growing.
The NA3HL is also the only league whose players are eligible to participate in NAHL’s roster expansion program, which allows NAHL teams to add two additional players to their roster for the playoff push in February.
While hundreds of NA3HL players have advanced to the NAHL and then later onto the NCAA, here are some recent examples of NA3HL to NAHL to NCAA Division I success stories:
Andrew Bellant - Flint Jr. Generals, Philadelphia Rebels, Michigan Tech University (WCHA)
Louis Boudon - Metro Jets, Northeast Generals, Lake Superior State (WCHA)
Alex Berardinelli – Pittsburgh Vengeance, Lone Star Brahmas, Colorado College (NCHC)
Trey Dodd - St. Louis Jr. Blues, Austin Bruins, Brown University (ECAC)
Travis Kothenbeutel – Granite City Lumberjacks, Austin Bruins, Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC)
Frankie Melton – St. Louis Jr. Blues, Shreveport Mudbugs, Ferris State University (WCHA)
Christian Mohs – Granite City Lumberjacks, Minot Minotauros, Miami (OH) University (NCHC)
Evan Moyse – Wisconsin Whalers, Wichita Falls Wildcats, Ohio State University (B1G)
Adam Roeder – St. Louis Jr. Blues, Janesville Jets, Northern Michigan University (WCHA)
Kohei Sato – North Iowa Bulls, Northeast Generals, University of New Hampshire (Hockey East)
Jeff Solow – North Iowa Bulls, Amarillo Bulls, Merrimack College (Hockey East)
Another one of the main benefits of the direct relationship with the NAHL is the presence of NAHL Central Scouting at all the NA3HL events during the season, which includes the upcoming NA3HL Showcase, the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament and the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship.
NAHL Central Scouting is solely dedicated to finding NA3HL hockey players, evaluating them in a true unbiased manner and then organizing and providing that information to NAHL teams and college coaches. Individual player scouting profiles are then uploaded into Rink Net Database, used by all NCAA and NHL Teams. No other junior league in the United States has a system like it, where its primary mission is the advancement of players.
NA3HL events also offer up an incredible exposure opportunity for players and teams. The NA3HL Showcase, which takes place in December, features all 44 NA3HL teams playing three regular season games under one roof, which attracts a wide variety of NCAA scouts. In addition, all NAHL teams have a coach in attendance in scouting the event and NAHL Central Scouting is also in attendance.
Next comes the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament, which is held along side the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in February. Each of the eight NA3HL Top Prospects teams at the event features an NAHL coach on the bench coaching the NA3HL players. With over 230 NCAA and NHL scouts attending the event, it truly is the premier event of its kind that is unmatched by any other Tier III junior hockey league.
Wrapping up the season is the NA3HL Fraser Cup Championship, which is the culmination of the NA3HL season. Eight divisional playoff winners play in a round-robin style format to determine the NA3HL’s National Champion. With dozens of NCAA and NAHL scouts in attendance, the NA3HL Silver Cup offers up some of the best and most competitive hockey of the season in a pressure-packed environment. Played in cooperation with the first NAHL Future Prospects Combine of the season, the setting is another great example of an effective event structure at work.
The NA3HL enjoys the benefit of having a full-time Director of Player Personnel, who is an expert in NCAA compliance and also heads up the league-wide scouting initiatives like NAHL Central Scouting. His relationships that exist in the junior and college hockey world provide a unique perspective to coaches and players in the NA3HL looking to gain opportunities at the next level.
Finally, the NA3HL also has a full-time Director of Player Safety, who ensures that the playing environment is as safe as possible, while continuing to focus on a highly-skilled and competitive hockey environment.