NA3EHL to join NA3HL for the 2016-17 season
March 4, 2016
The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) is proud to announce the addition of all the teams from the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League (NA3EHL), which will take place during the upcoming 2016-17 season as a part of two new divisions of the NA3HL. The now 47-team NA3HL will be divided into eight divisions for the 2016-17 season, stretching from Montana to Maine.
“The addition of the NA3EHL to the NA3HL is a great opportunity for both leagues to join forces as proud members of USA Hockey in cooperation with continuing the best Tier III Junior property in the country,” said NA3HL President and NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “These type of decisions are made because we feel it is what is best for players that are advancing though USA Hockey's ladder of development. The NA3EHL teams have proven themselves to be good operators that are organized, competitive and have taken huge strides as a league since our acquisition almost two years ago. We are excited about the future of the NA3HL.”
The now 47-team NA3HL will be divided into eight divisions for the 2016-17 season and will include teams in 22 states, stretching from Montana to Maine. The NA3EHL will finish out the 2015-16 regular season and playoffs as scheduled and then join the NA3HL following the completion of the NA3EHL Championship. That will include any tryout camps, as well as, taking part of the 2016 NA3HL Draft, which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14th.
The addition of the NA3EHL teams to the NA3HL will also further strengthen league-wide events like the NA3HL Showcase, the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament and the NA3HL Silver Cup Playoffs. “The NA3HL events will continue to get bigger and better and most importantly, keep providing more exposure and opportunity for the players,” continued Frankenfeld. “Our Showcase and Top Prospects Tournament allow representation of all NA3HL teams from our wide variety of markets and player pools and the season-ending NA3HL Silver Cup will be a true indicator and test of who is truly the top USA Hockey Tier III junior hockey team in the United States.”
“We are very excited to be making this move to the NA3HL,” said Cape Cod Islanders President Dan Hodge. “From the inception of the NA3EHL, the ultimate goal was to join the NA3HL. We couldn't be happier to be joining the NA3HL on a full-time basis and look forward to many years of great competition and partnership with the premier Tier III junior league in the United States."
“We are very excited for the new opportunity that the NAHL and NA3HL members have provided to us. The merger with the NA3HL and the NA3EHL has been our goal since day one and we are finally there,” said New England Stars General Manager Dan Fontas. “The footprint continues to expand on the East Coast and being able to be apart of the expansion form an organizational standpoint is great. At the end of the day, the players will be the ones that benefit from this as it will allow for more exposure within the NAHL umbrella.”
The NA3EHL, which will be dissolved after the current season as part of the restructuring, was formed in 2014 when the North American Hockey League (NAHL) took over operations of the Northern States Hockey League (NSHL). The NSHL was a 10-team league operating on the East Coast independently outside of USA Hockey. The plan was to bring the NA3EHL under USA hockey umbrella as soon as possible and in the Summer of 2015, the NA3EHL was approved to operate as one of eight Tier III junior hockey leagues under the USA Hockey umbrella.
The NA3EHL currently features 13 members, who all plan to be a part of the NA3HL next season, who include: Cape Cod Islanders (Falmouth, MA), East Coast Minutemen (Salem, NH), Jersey Shore Wildcats (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ), L/A Fighting Spirit (Lewiston, ME), Lockport Express (Lockport, NY), Maine Wild (Biddeford, ME), New England Stars (Hudson, NH), New York Aviators (Brooklyn, NY), Northeast Generals (Canton, MA), Roc City Royals (Rochester, NY), Skylands Kings (Stockholm, NJ), Syracuse Stampede (Morrisville, NY) and Wilkes-Barre Miners (Wilkes-Barre, PA).