North American Hockey League

This article is about the junior league in the United States. For the defunct professional league, see North American Hockey League (1973–1977). For the Quebec-based professional league, see Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey.
North American Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1975
CEO Mark Frankenfeld
No. of teams 24
Country  United States
Most recent
Fairbanks Ice Dogs (3rd title)
Most titles Compuware Ambassadors (11)
Official website

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) is one of the top junior hockey leagues in the United States and is in its 41st season of operation in 2016–17. It is the only Tier II junior league sanctioned by USA Hockey, and acts as an alternative to the Tier I United States Hockey League (USHL). The NAHL is the oldest junior hockey league in the United States, and is headquartered in Frisco, Texas (they are co-located in the same facility as the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars).[1]

The league consists of four divisions with a total of 24 teams. The teams span the United States from Massachusetts in the East to Alaska in the Northwest and to Texas in the South. The teams play a 60-game regular season, starting in mid-September and ending in early April. The top teams of the NAHL playoffs meet in a predetermined location to play in the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.

From its beginning in 1975, the NAHL was primarily a 6–12-team league based in the Midwest, known as the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League and changed the name to the North American Hockey League in 1984.[2][3] Jason Weber, of Livonia, Michigan, is the all-time leading scorer in the NAHL, tallying 65 goals and 115 assists for 180 points from 1990 to 1992. Other notable alumni from the NAJHL include Pat Lafontaine, Mike Modano, Doug Weight, Pat Peake, Brian Rolston, Brian Holzinger, Brian Rafalski, Todd Marchant and John Scott. In 2003, the league merged with the defunct America West Hockey League to form a 19-team league. The NAHL has 24 teams as of the 2016–17 season.

Current teams

The 2016–17 season has 24 teams playing in 4 divisions:[4]

Division Team Location Arena Founded Joined
Central Aberdeen Wings Aberdeen, South Dakota Odde Ice Center 2010
Austin Bruins Austin, Minnesota Riverside Arena 2010
Bismarck Bobcats Bismarck, North Dakota V.F.W. Sports Center 1997 2003
Brookings Blizzard Brookings, South Dakota Larson Ice Center 2003*
Minnesota Wilderness Cloquet, Minnesota Northwoods Credit Union Arena 2003*
Minot Minotauros Minot, North Dakota Maysa Arena 2011
Midwest Coulee Region Chill La Crosse, Wisconsin Green Island Ice Arena 2005*
Fairbanks Ice Dogs Fairbanks, Alaska Big Dipper Ice Arena 1997 2003
Janesville Jets Janesville, Wisconsin Janesville Ice Arena 2009
Kenai River Brown Bears Soldotna, Alaska Soldotna Sports Center 2007
Minnesota Magicians Richfield, Minnesota Richfield Ice Arena 2010*
Springfield Jr. Blues Springfield, Illinois Nelson Center 1993
East Aston Rebels Aston, Pennsylvania IceWorks Skating Complex 2008*
Johnstown Tomahawks Johnstown, Pennsylvania Cambria County War Memorial Arena 1990*
New Jersey Titans Middletown, New Jersey Middletown Ice World Arena 2005*
Northeast Generals Attleboro, Massachusetts New England Sports Village 2016
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Revolution Ice Center 2010*
South Amarillo Bulls Amarillo, Texas Amarillo Civic Center 2008*
Corpus Christi IceRays Corpus Christi, Texas American Bank Center 2001*
Lone Star Brahmas North Richland Hills, Texas NYTEX Sports Centre 1999*
Odessa Jackalopes Odessa, Texas Ector County Coliseum 2008*
Shreveport Mudbugs Shreveport, Louisiana Hirsch Memorial Coliseum 2016
Topeka RoadRunners Topeka, Kansas Landon Arena 2003*
Wichita Falls Wildcats Wichita Falls, Texas Kay Yeager Coliseum 1993* 2003

Note: An asterisk (*) donates a franchise relocation. See respective team articles from more information.

Past teams


Timeline of league changes

2006–07 season: Bozeman Icedogs, Billings Bulls, and Helena Bighorns left the league for the Northern Pacific Hockey League. Cleveland Jr. Barons were granted inactive status for the season. Wasilla Spirit changed name to Alaska Avalanche. Minnesota Blizzard changed name to Alexandria Blizzard. Texarkana Bandits moved to Chesterfield, Missouri, and changed name to St. Louis Bandits. Marquette Rangers were added to the league.

2007–08 season: Santa Fe Roadrunners moved to Topeka, Kansas. The Topeka Roadrunners now play at Landon Arena. The Kenai River Brown Bears started playing in the league.

2008–09 season: The Southern Minnesota Express moved to Detroit and changed their name to the Motor City Machine.[8] However, the Express' home city of Owatonna was granted another NAHL team for 2008–09, named the Owatonna Express.[9] The Express were joined by another new Minnesota NAHL franschise, the Albert Lea Thunder.[10] The Texas Tornado franchise went on a one-year hiatus as they awaited renovations on their arena. Wenatchee, Washington, was awarded an expansion franchise for the 2008–09 season.[11] The Fargo-Moorhead Jets were approved for dormancy.[12]

2009–10 season: The Janesville Jets were awarded an expansion franchise.[13] The Mahoning Valley Phantoms and the USNTDP left the league for the USHL.[14][15] The Texas Tornado returned to the league after taking a year off while their home arena was undergoing renovations.[16] The Motor City franchise's new ownership changed the team's nickname from Machine to Metal Jackets.[17]

2010–11 season: The NAHL Board of Governors accepted membership of several new teams to play this season in the league. The Fresno Monsters were awarded an expansion franchise. The Monsters also have a team in the Tier III Junior A Western States Hockey League. They played at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California. The Corpus Christi IceRays were awarded an expansion franchise. The IceRays purchased the franchise formerly known as the Alpena IceDiggers for their expansion team. They played in the South Division at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Chicago Hitmen joined the North Division and played at West Meadows Ice Arena in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The Marquette Rangers moved to Flint, Michigan and changed their name to Michigan Warriors. The Michigan Warriors played in the North Division at the Perani Arena and Event Center. Port Huron joined the North Division and played at McMorran Place in Port Huron, Michigan. The North Iowa Outlaws relocate to become the Coulee Region Chill and joined the Central Division out of the Onalaska OmniCenter in Onalaska, Wisconsin. The Aberdeen Wings joined the Central Division and played at the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The Austin Bruins joined the Central Division and played at the Riverside Arena in Austin, Minnesota. The Dawson Creek Rage joined the West Division and played at EnCana Events Centre in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. The Albert Lea Thunder relocate to become the Amarillo Bulls at joined the South Division out of the Amarillo Civic Center in Amarillo, Texas. The New Mexico Mustangs joined the South Division and played at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The Alaska Avalanche relocate to Palmer, Alaska, but keep the same name.

2011–12 season: The Owatonna Express relocate to Odessa, Texas and become Odessa Jackalopes. The Motor City Metal Jackets relocate to Jamestown, New York and become Jamestown Ironmen. The Minot Minotauros granted expansion

2012–13 season: The Alaska Avalanche relocate to Johnstown, Pennsylvania and become Johnstown Tomahawks. Alexandria Blizzard relocate to Brookings, South Dakota and become Brookings Blizzard. Traverse City North Stars franchise purchased by Soo Eagles, who join league from Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. The Dawson Creek Rage, New Mexico Mustangs, and St. Louis Bandits takes leaves of absence. The Chicago Hitmen fold

2013–14 season: The dormant New Mexico Mustangs relocate to Richfield, Minnesota and become Minnesota Magicians. The Texas Tornado relocate back to North Richland Hills, Texas and become Lone Star Brahmas. The Minnesota Wilderness join league from Superior International Junior Hockey League by purchasing dormant St. Louis Bandits franchise. The Jamestown Ironmen cease operations

2014–15 season: The Port Huron Fighting Falcons were relocated to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, to become the Keystone Ice Miners, remaining in the North Division, and the Wenatchee Wild moved from the Midwest Division to the South Division.[18]

2015–16 season: On May 1, 2015 the NAHL announced that the dormant Dawson Creek Rage franchise was purchased by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights organization to be an expansion team for the 2015–16 season.[19] The Keystone Ice Miners ceased operations. The Michigan Warriors ceased operations due to the arrival of the major junior Flint Firebirds. The Soo Eagles announced they were returning to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League citing the lack of other local teams as they were the last remaining team in Michigan. The New Jersey Junior Titans organization bought the franchise from the Eagles and relocated to Middleton, New Jersey. The Eagles originally sought membership with the NAHL for the 2012–13 season and returned to the NOJHL for the season 2015–16 season. The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees were relocated to Aston, Pennsylvania and became the Aston Rebels. A new East Division was formed composed of Aston, Johnstown, New Jersey, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Wenatchee Wild organization left the NAHL and joined the Canadian Junior A British Columbia Hockey League.

2016–17 season: The league announced the continued expansion of the East Division by adding the Northeast Generals of Attleboro, Massachusetts. The Generals organization also has a Tier III team in the North American 3 Hockey League (previously in the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League prior to the 2016 league merger). On April 8, 2016, the Shreveport Mudbugs were announced as an expansion team.[20]

Robertson Cup winners



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