The North American 3 Hockey League's (3HL) summer meetings concluded in Chicago recently with the league announcing several major decisions.
USA Hockey has approved the 3HL as a certified and full sanctioned Tier III junior hockey league. The 2011-12 season will be the first full season for the 3HL, whose footprint will expand even further featuring 16 teams from seven states, including four new teams in Minnesota and Iowa.
As one of USA Hockey’s top Tier III junior leagues in the country, the 3HL is a league like no other. Thanks to its partnership with the North American Hockey League (NAHL), the only Tier II league in the country, the unique developmental path for players allows for unmatched exposure. The relationship and partnership allows the players of the 3HL the maximum opportunity for advancement to higher-level junior teams and collegiate programs throughout the United States.
The upcoming 3HL season will consist of 48 regular-season games, including a portion at three different 3HL showcases, which will be held in conjunction with NAHL and North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) events, maximizing the exposure and scouting presence. The 3HL will also have a Top Prospects event and a season-ending championship tournament. The 3HL’s regular season will commence on Sept. 2, 2011 and conclude on March 11, 2012.
The 3HL divisional playoffs will consist of two rounds from March 16-25, 2012 followed by each of the divisional champions moving onto compete in a season-ending, final-four-style championship tournament to crown a 3HL playoff champion from March 30-April 2, 2012 which will usher in a new era of championship hockey.
The 16-team league will be broken down into the following four divisions:
West (new for the 2011-12 season)
Granite City Lumberjacks - Sauk Rapids, MN
Minnesota Flying Aces - Little Falls, MN
North Iowa Bulls - Mason City, IA
Twin City Steel - Oakdale, MN
Chicago Hitmen - Rolling Meadows, IL
Peoria Mustangs - Peoria, IL
Quad City Jr. Flames - Davenport, IA
St. Louis Jr. Blues - Affton, MO
Battle Creek Revolution - Battle Creek, MI
Michigan Mountain Cats - Farmington Hills, MI
Queen City Steam - Evendale, OH
Toledo Cherokee - Toledo, OH
Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks - Strongsville, OH
Flint Jr. Generals - Flint, MI
Metro Jets - Waterford, MI
Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins - Pittsburgh, PA