Northeast Generals add new pathway, location in the NAHL
May 5, 2016
Head Coach Bryan Erikson will guide the Northeast Generals NAHL team in its inaugural season.
By Joshua Boyd, USA Junior Hockey Magazine
The Northeast Generals have something in common now with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and the Corpus Christi IceRays. These three teams occupy the corners of a very large North American Hockey League footprint for the 2016-17 season. The Ice Dogs are the northernmost and westernmost team in the league and the IceRays are the southernmost team. The Generals, who will be located in North Attleboro, Mass., will be the easternmost NAHL organization when they step on the ice for games this September.
The Generals were accepted into the NAHL on April 1, and have been working full-bore since then to prepare for their new life as a Tier II junior hockey organization. The Generals will also continue to have their Tier III squad intact in the NA3HL to provide a stepping-stone to the NAHL squad. The Generals are also adding an 18U half-season team to their offerings, to build yet another step up the ladder of development.
A big part of the Generals’ mission prior to winning games in the NAHL is education. “People in Massachusetts don’t know the NAHL,” said Generals head coach Bryan Erikson.
“It is the closest thing to the United States Hockey League,” added Rich O’Dowd, Director of Operations for the Generals. “It will be great for people to come and see these types of players. Many of these players will play NCAA Division 1 or high-level Division 3 and maybe someday pro hockey.”
The NAHL is also happy to welcome its first Massachusetts team into the fold. “Adding the Northeast Generals to the NAHL footprint is an exciting addition for the East Coast. Boston, Massachusetts, and the surrounding areas are rich in hockey tradition and talented hockey players that want to play in the NAHL,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. "An NAHL team in North Attleboro is a win for the NAHL, a win for the East Division and most importantly, a win for the players that will not have to move far from home to play NAHL hockey,” Frankenfeld added.
“Mark Frankenfeld has been a big cheerleader and a navigator for us,” said O’Dowd. “We were very fortunate to have access to him as we navigated through this new experience, and made sure we did everything right.”
Frankenfeld approached O’Dowd and Erikson in October about placing a team in the NAHL. “It was always part of our five-year plan, so we went after it. We scouted locations to support the minimum requirements for a Tier II program, and we had to figure out how to generate revenue,” said O’Dowd. “We’ve gone after building a team. We got accepted on April 1 and it’s been pretty overwhelming the last few weeks to say the least.”
Right away, the Generals made sure to tender (offer a contract to) one solid, highly talented player with tons of character – one who was right there under their noses. Kevin Perry scored 51 points in 44 games for the Generals in the NA3EHL last year. The NA3EHL teams were accepted into the nationwide NA3HL for the 2016-17 season. Perry was the Generals’ captain in 2015-16.
“He is certainly a NAHL player,” added Erikson.
The Generals could not recruit prior to being accepted into the league, but they could scout. “We started scouting in January. Once we realized it was a 95 percent chance we’d be accepted, we started really going heavy on the scouting end,” added Erikson. “We were able to identify kids and we pretty much got the kids we’ve wanted so far. We’ve talked to some kids [since April 1] about drafting them.”
The Generals will be in their first NAHL draft, to be held on June 7, and their first tryout camp will be held May 16-19 at the Sportsplex in Canton, Mass.
"We’ll have six teams playing showcase style,” said Erikson. “We are going to save some tenders for that tryout. We’ve seen a lot of players, both live and also a lot of lm. To us, the quality of kid is more important than the quality of hockey player,” said Erikson.