North American Hockey League
North American Hockey League Sport Ice Hockey Founded 1975 Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld No. of teams 28 Country(ies) United States (27 teams)
Canada (1 team)
Most recent champion(s) Fairbanks Ice Dogs Most titles Compuware Ambassadors (11) Official website www.nahl.com
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) is one of the top junior hockey leagues in the United States and is enterting its 36th season in 2011-12. It is currently the only Junior A Tier II league, sanctioned by USA Hockey. The NAHL currently acts as an alternative to the United States Hockey League (USHL). The NAHL is the oldest and largest junior hockey league in the United States.
The league currently consists of five divisions with a total of 28 teams. The teams span the United States from New York in the East to California in the West; from Alaska in the North to Texas in the South. The teams play a 58-game regular season, starting in mid-September and ending in early April. The winner of each division will join the host team of the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, a six team round-robin event.
From its beginning in 1975, the NAHL was primarily a 6-12 team league based in the Midwest. All that changed in 2003 when the league and the defunct America West Hockey League merged to form a 19-team league, which has since grown to an all-time high of 28 for the 2011-12 season
The 2011-12 season has 28 teams playing in 5 divisions:
- Albert Lea Thunder (Moved to Amarillo, TX, became Amarillo Bulls).
- Alpena IceDiggers (moved to Corpus Christi, TX, renamed Corpus Christi IceRays).
- Billings Bulls (Joined the NorPac).
- Bozeman Icedogs (Joined the NorPac).
- Central Texas Blackhawks (renamed Central Texas Marshals).
- Chicago Freeze (folded after 2002-03 due to "increased operation costs and low attendance").
- Cleveland Jr. Barons.
- Detroit Compuware Ambassadors.
- Danville Wings (Moved to USHL).
- Dayton Gems dissolved after 21 games, roster dispersed amongst remaining teams.
- Dearborn Heights Nationals (Relocated to become St. Louis Sting).
- Detroit Jr. Red Wings (later Detroit Freeze).
- Detroit Freeze (Moved to Chicago, became Chicago Freeze).
- Fargo-Moorhead Jets.
- Helena Bighorns (Joined the NorPac).
- Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings (Moved to Danville).
- Lone Star Cavalry (Moved to Santa Fe, renamed RoadRunners).
- Marquette Rangers (Moved to Flint, renamed Michigan Warriors).
- Minnesota Blizzard (Name changed to Alexandria Blizzard).
- Motor City Metal Jackets (Moved to Jamestown, renamed Ironmen).
- North Iowa Outlaws (Moved to Onalaska, renamed Coulee Region Chill).
- Pittsburgh Forge (moved to Toledo, became Toledo IceDiggers).
- Santa Fe RoadRunners (Moved to Topeka).
- Southern Minnesota Express (Relocated to become Motor City Machine).
- Springfield Spirit (Relocated to become Wasilla Spirit).
- St. Louis Sting (Moved to Springfield).
- Texarkana Bandits (Relocated to become St. Louis Bandits).
- Toledo IceDiggers (Moved to Alpena, MI).
- USA Hockey National Team Development Program (Moved to USHL).
- Wasilla Spirit (Name changed to Alaska Avalanche now in Anchorage, AK).
- Wichita Falls Rustlers (Name changed to Wichita Falls Wildcats).
- Youngstown Phantoms/Mahoning Valley Phantoms (Moved to USHL).
2006–2007 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.
2008-2009 season: The Southern Minnesota Express moved to Detroit and changed their name to the Motor City Machine. However, the Express' home city of Owatonna was granted another NAHL team for 2008-09, named the Owatonna Express. The Express are joined by another new Minnesota NAHL franschise, the Albert Lea Thunder. The Texas Tornado franchise will go dark for a year as they await renovations on their arena. Wenatchee, Washington has been awarded an expansion franchise for the 2008-09 season. The Fargo-Moorhead Jets are approved for dormancy. .
2009-2010 season: The Janesville Jets are awarded an expansion franchise. The Mahoning Valley Phantoms leave the league for the USHL. The USNTDP also leave the league. The Texas Tornado return to the league after taking a year off while their home arena was undergoing renovations. The Motor City franchise's new ownership changes the team's nickname from Machine to Metal Jackets.
2010-2011 season: The NAHL Board of Governors accepted membership of several new teams to play this season in the league. The Fresno Monsters are awarded an expansion franchise. The Monsters played in the Tier III A Western States Hockey League before getting switched over to the North American Hockey League for the 2010-2011 season. They will play at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California. The Corpus Christi IceRays are awarded an expansion franchise. The IceRays were known as the Alpena IceDiggers and Toledo in the North America Hockey League [the same league, no new league change, just name change]. They will play in the South Division at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Chicago Hitmen joined the North Division and will play starting this season 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 will play in the North Division at the Perani Arena and Event Center. Port Huron joined the North Division and will play starting this season at McMorran Place in Port Huron, Michigan. The Coulee Region Chill joined the Central Division and will play at Onalaska OmniCenter in Onalaska, Wisconsin. The Aberdeen Wings joined the Central Division and will play at the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The Austin Bruins joined the Central Division and will play at the Riverside Arena in Austin, Minnesota. The Dawson Creek Rage joined the West Division and will play at EnCana Events Centre in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. The Amarillo Bulls joined the South Division and will play at Amarillo Civic Center in Amarillo, Texas. The New Mexico Mustangs joined the South Division and will play at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
Robertson Cup winners
- 2011 - Fairbanks Ice Dogs
- 2010 - Bismarck Bobcats
- 2009 - St. Louis Bandits
- 2008 - St. Louis Bandits
- 2007 - St. Louis Bandits
- 2006 - Texas Tornado
- 2005 - Texas Tornado
- 2004 - Texas Tornado
- 2003 - Pittsburgh Forge
- 2002 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 2001 - Texas Tornado
- 2000 - Danville Wings
- 1999 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1998 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1997 - Springfield Jr. Blues
- 1996 - Springfield Jr. Blues
- 1995 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1994 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1993 - Kalamazoo Jr. K Wings
- 1992 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1991 - Kalamazoo Jr. K Wings
- 1990 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1989 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1988 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1987 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1986 - Compuware Ambassadors
- 1985 - St. Clair Shores Falcons
- 1984 - St. Clair Shores Falcons
- 1983 - Paddock Pools
- 1982 - Paddock Pools
- 1981 - Paddock Pools
- 1980 - Paddock Pools
- 1979 - Paddock Pools
- 1978 - Paddock Pools
- 1977 - Paddock Pools
- 1976 - Little Caesars
- ^ http://nahl.com/news/story.cfm?id=2734
- ^ Jack McCarthy (April 24, 2003). "Freeze hockey team shuts down". chicagotribune.com. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-04-24/news/0304240241_1_freeze-officials-north-american-hockey-league-league-for-high-school. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
- ^ NAHL.com, Machine Motors into Michigan, 2nd May 2008
- ^ NAHL.com, Owatonna membership approved for 2008-09, 19th May 2008
- ^ Startribune.com, Albert Lea awarded NAHL franchise, 1st May 2008
- ^ Wenatchee World, Finally we have a hockey team, 14th May 2008
- ^ NAHL.com, Fargo-Moorhead ceases operations, 19th May 2008
- ^ NAHL.com, Jets touch down in Janesville, 5th June 2009
- ^ NAHL.com, Zoldan, NAHL make a deal, 13th August 2009
- ^ NAHL.com, NTDP to no longer compete in NAHL, 26th February 2008
- ^ NAHL.com, Tornado to hit the ice again in 2009-10, 29th April 2009
- ^ NAHL.com, Motor City changes nickname, logo, 25th June 2009
Junior ice hockey leagues in North America CanadaMajor JuniorJunior AJunior BJunior CIndependent United StatesTier ITier IINorth American Hockey LeagueTier IIIIndependentIJHL • CJHL Related article: List of ice hockey leagues • Hockey Canada • USA Hockey • Amateur Athletic Union
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