FRISCO, TEXAS – The North American 3 Hockey League (3HL) announced today the league-wide events that will make up the 2011-12 season. The events are designed to take advantage of the unique vertical exposure model, which under the direction and vision of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), increases the exposure players receive at events, maximizing the scouting presence, while minimizing the expenses. “This is a very unique opportunity for these athletes,” said 3HL President and NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “They will receive more exposure opportunities at our events than they would playing in any other Tier III league in the country.”
The season will kick-off with the eight teams of the 3HL’s West Conference (Chicago, Granite City, Minnesota, North Iowa, Peoria, Quad City, St. Louis and Twin City) taking the ice at the annual NAHL Showcase at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota, from September 15th-18th. It will be the inaugural games in the 3HL for the league’s four newest teams: Granite City, Minnesota, North Iowa and Twin City, who all were accepted to the league earlier this summer, and who helped expand the 3HL footprint into the states of Minnesota and Iowa.
North Iowa Bulls head coach Todd Sanden, who spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach in the NAHL with the Coulee Region Chill and North Iowa Outlaws, believes that the NAHL Showcase is the perfect place for the 3HL to showcase their product. “The NAHL Showcase is one of the highest scouted events in the United States and there is no other event that offers the diversity of scouts in attendance, starting at the top with the NHL, continuing to the NCAA, and including all Tier I and Tier II junior scouts and coaches,” Sanden said. “The 3HL is a league where a younger player can come and compete not only with his peers, but the older players as well in order to gain the physical strength, experience and confidence that prepare them for the next level. Having spent time in a league like the NAHL, I feel confident that the 3HL is doing everything possible to allow its players that chance to succeed.”
The 3HL will hold its own Showcase, December 4th-7th at the Darien Sportsplex in Darien, Illinois. The 3HL Showcase will feature all 16 3HL teams competing under one roof for four straight days. “We as coaches enjoy events like the 3HL Showcase because we get a good look at some potential future players and how they compete in a regular season game situation,” said Tony Curtale, who is the all-time NAHL wins leader and head coach/general manager of the NAHL’s Texas Tornado. “Bringing everyone together in a central location helps us manage our scouting costs and allows us to watch all the players at the same time.”
The eight 3HL Eastern Conference teams (Battle Creek, Cleveland, Flint, Metro, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Queen City and Toledo) will then have their turn in the spotlight as they travel to the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan for four days of competition from February 19th-22nd. The event will coincide with the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, which hundreds of scouts flock to watch the annual NAHL ‘all-star’ type of event. The North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) also has their season-ending Championship series during the weekend, so with the 120 best players from the NAHL, and hundreds more from the 3HL and PHL, the event in Troy becomes another can’t miss opportunity for players and scouts alike.
The 3HL events wrap up with a four team 3HL Top Prospects Tournament at the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas on May 6-8. The event will not only coincide with the PHL Top Prospects Tournament, but also the NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship Tournament, which crowns the USA Hockey Tier II Junior National Champion. The 3HL Top Prospects Tournament will feature 80 of the best 3HL players, playing in a three-day ‘all-star’ style format, providing the player with yet another avenue for exposure to scouts and a chance to shine on the brightest stage.