Entering its 11th season in 2020-21, the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), one of two USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III Junior leagues, serves as one of the top training grounds in the country by providing the best coaching, exposure and developmental vehicles available for student-athletes in its classification.
No other league of its kind has had more movement and advanced more players onto play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) than the NA3HL. Thanks to additional and enhanced initiatives that were put in place this season in cooperation with the NAHL, more players from the NA3HL play, practice, and earn NCAA Division I scholarships with the NAHL than any other league.
This past season not only did 28 NA3HL players sign tenders to play in the NAHL for the 2020-21 season, but 27 more players were selected in the 2020 NAHL Draft. The NA3HL also continues to make its mark and is one of the leaders in junior hockey with the advancement of players onto the NCAA.
The NA3HL had over 120+ college commitments in 2020, with almost 70% of those being NCAA commitments. In addition, over 300 former NA3HL players are currently playing in the NCAA, and 13% of NCAA Division III freshmen this season previously played in the NA3HL.
The NA3HL began back in the early 1980's as the Junior B level Central States Hockey League (CSHL). In 2007, the CSHL changed from Junior B to Tier III Junior A under the USA Hockey classification system. On November 1, 2010 it was announced that the North American Hockey League (NAHL) would take control of the CSHL. The NAHL-CSHL affiliation allowed for a more structured junior 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).
The primary mission of the NA3HL, which is managed organizationally by the NAHL, is to provide a structured developmental environment for student-athletes whose youth options are limited but are still reaching their potential and have aspirations of playing in the NAHL or United States Hockey League (USHL) and eventually the NCAA or American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).
Through the NAHL's vast resources for development and exposure, the creation of the NA3HL provides another worthy path for players to grow, on and off the ice, while being showcased in front of the entire junior, college and professional scouting community. It also allows the NAHL and NA3HL to work with USA Hockey's youth affiliates regarding junior-youth conflicts of same-age players.
In addition to its regular-season schedule and playoffs, the NA3HL, which boasts a geographical footprint with 31 teams in 16 states (Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming) allowing players to compete and excel academically at home, will participate in the NAHL's high-exposure events, which attract hundreds of college, junior and professional coaches and scouts.
The NA3HL also participates in the NAHL's wide menu of marketing partnerships, including its relationships with Bauer, the Official Equipment Supplier of the NAHL, Vaughn, the Official goaltending Equipment Supplier of the NAHL, and HockeyTV, the Official Internet Broadcast Provider of the NAHL.