Entering its 10th anniversary season in 2019-20, 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 26 NA3HL players sign tenders to play in the NAHL for the 2019-20 season, but 26 more players were selected in the 2019 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 130+ college commitments in 2019, 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 36 teams in 17 states (Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, 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 will have four events during the 2019-20 season. The first event of the season will be a new East Showcase from October 6-9, 2019, in Attleboro, Massachusetts. All of the Coastal and Northeast Division teams will be participating, in addition to the St. Louis Jr. Blues, Texas RoadRunners, and the Atlanta Capitals.
All 36 teams will then compete in the league-wide NA3HL Showcase, which will be held from December 15-17, 2019 at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. The event will be played in cooperation with an NAPHL Showcase.
The third event of the season will be the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament, which will take place alongside the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Attleboro, Massachusetts on February 17-18, 2020.
The NA3HL will then finish their season with the Fraser Cup Championship Tournament, which crowns the NA3HL's playoff champion. The event will be held from March 25-29, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
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.