North American Hockey League

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) is one of the top junior hockey leagues in the United States and is in its 43rd season of operation in 2018–19. 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 one of 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.

Under USA Hockey Tier II sanctioning, NAHL teams do not charge players to play and also provide players with uniforms, team clothing and select equipment such as sticks, gloves and helmets. Players without local family live with billet families in their area and pay a monthly stipend that covers food and other costs. Unlike the Tier I United States Hockey League, there are no roster restrictions in the NAHL on overage players, which allows for the older players to gain extra NCAA exposure as well as teams to retain a veteran core. Teams are still bound to USA Hockey rules regarding import players and presently each team is allowed to have three non-American players on their roster.

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] The league's all-time leading scorer is Mike York who tallied 371 points in two seasons.[4] Other notable alumni from the NAHL 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.

North American Hockey League
North American Hockey League Logo
SportIce hockey
CEOMark Frankenfeld
No. of teams24
Country United States
Most recent
Shreveport Mudbugs (1st title)
Most titlesCompuware Ambassadors (11)


Current teams

The 2018–19 season has 24 teams playing in 4 divisions:[5]

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
East Jamestown Rebels Jamestown, New York Northwest Arena 2008*
Johnstown Tomahawks Johnstown, Pennsylvania Cambria County War Memorial Arena 1990*
Maryland Black Bears[6] Odenton, Maryland Piney Orchard Ice Arena 2018
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*
Midwest Chippewa Steel Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin Chippewa Area 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
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 Pilots Topeka, Kansas Landon Arena 2003*

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

Future teams

Division Team Location Arena Founded Joined
East Maine Nordiques[7] Lewiston, Maine Androscoggin Bank Colisée 2019
South New Mexico Ice Wolves[8] Albuquerque, New Mexico Outpost Ice Arenas 2019

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 names to Alaska Avalanche. Minnesota Blizzard became the Alexandria Blizzard. Texarkana Bandits moved to Chesterfield, Missouri, and became the St. Louis Bandits. Marquette Rangers were added to the league.

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

2008–09 season: The Southern Minnesota Express moved to Detroit and became the Motor City Machine.[14] However, the Express' home city of Owatonna was granted another NAHL team for 2008–09, named the Owatonna Express.[15] The Express were joined by another new Minnesota NAHL franschise, the Albert Lea Thunder.[16] 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 as the Wenatchee Wild.[17] The Fargo-Moorhead Jets were approved for dormancy.[18]

2009–10 season: The Janesville Jets were awarded an expansion franchise.[19] The Mahoning Valley Phantoms and the USNTDP left the league for the USHL.[20][21] The Texas Tornado returned to the league after taking a year off while their home arena was undergoing renovations.[22] The Motor City franchise's new ownership changed the team's nickname from Machine to Metal Jackets.[23]

2010–11 season: The NAHL Board of Governors accepted membership of several new teams in the league. The Fresno Monsters were awarded an expansion franchise. after having a team in the Tier III Junior A Western States Hockey League. The Corpus Christi IceRays were awarded a franchise formerly known as the Alpena IceDiggers. 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. Port Huron joined the North Division and played at McMorran Place in Port Huron, Michigan. The North Iowa Outlaws relocated to become the Coulee Region Chill 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 and Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings granted expansion.

2012–13 season: The Alaska Avalanche relocated to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and became Johnstown Tomahawks. Alexandria Blizzard relocated to Brookings, South Dakota, and became the Brookings Blizzard. Traverse City North Stars franchise purchased by the Soo Eagles and joined the 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 relocated to Richfield, Minnesota, and became Minnesota Magicians. The Texas Tornado relocated back to North Richland Hills, Texas, and became Lone Star Brahmas. The Minnesota Wilderness joined the league from the Superior International Junior Hockey League by purchasing dormant St. Louis Bandits franchise. The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees purchased the Wenatchee Wild franchise. The Fresno Monsters were relocated to become the second incarnation of the Wenatchee Wild and the Monsters returned to only fielding a team in the Western States Hockey League. The Jamestown Ironmen and Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings ceased 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.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

2017–18 season: The Wichita Falls Wildcats ceased operations after failing to find a buyer for the franchise.[27] Aston Rebels relocated and renamed as the Philadelphia Rebels.

2018–19 season: The NAHL added another team to its East Division with an expansion franchise granted to the Maryland Black Bears.[6][28] The Coulee Region Chill were sold and relocated as the Chippewa Steel in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and the Philadelphia Rebels became the Jamestown Rebels in Jamestown, New York. The Topeka RoadRunners were sold and rebranded as the Topeka Pilots.[13]

2019–20 season: The NAHL has approved of two expansion teams: the Maine Nordiques in Lewiston, Maine, and the New Mexico Ice Wolves in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[7][8]

Robertson Cup winners

The Robertson Cup Championship is a playoff series held at the end of the NAHL season. The trophy is awarded annually to the USA Hockey Tier II junior national playoff champion. The Cup is the oldest junior hockey trophy in the United States and is named in honor of Chuck Robertson, a pioneer of junior hockey in the NAHL and youth hockey in the state of Michigan. Chuck Robertson was the owner of the Paddock Pool Saints when they won a record seven straight NAHL championships from 1976 to 1983.

As of the 2017–18 season[29]

  • 1976 – Detroit Little Caesars
  • 1977 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1978 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1979 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1980 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1981 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1982 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1983 – Paddock Pool Saints
  • 1984 – St. Clair Shores Falcons
  • 1985 – St. Clair Shores Falcons
  • 1986 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1987 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1988 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1989 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1990 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1991 – Kalamazoo Jr. K Wings
  • 1992 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1993 – Kalamazoo Jr. K Wings
  • 1994 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1995 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1996 – Springfield Jr. Blues
  • 1997 – Springfield Jr. Blues
  • 1998 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 1999 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 2000 – Danville Wings
  • 2001 – Texas Tornado
  • 2002 – Compuware Ambassadors
  • 2003 – Pittsburgh Forge
  • 2004 – Texas Tornado
  • 2005 – Texas Tornado
  • 2006 – Texas Tornado
  • 2007 – St. Louis Bandits
  • 2008 – St. Louis Bandits
  • 2009 – St. Louis Bandits
  • 2010Bismarck Bobcats
  • 2011 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs
  • 2012 – Texas Tornado
  • 2013 – Amarillo Bulls
  • 2014 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs
  • 2015 – Minnesota Wilderness
  • 2016 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs
  • 2017 – Lone Star Brahmas
  • 2018 – Shreveport Mudbugs


  1. ^ "Contact Us - North American Hockey League - NAHL". Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  2. ^ "North American Hockey League [1984-2019] history and statistics at".
  3. ^ "NAHL History". NAHL. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  4. ^ "NAHL ALL-TIME REGULAR SEASON STATS". Elite Prospects. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  5. ^ "NAHL announces divisional alignment, events for 2017-18 season". NAHL. May 26, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "NAHL team in Maryland approved for the 2018-19 season". NAHL. April 12, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "NAHL team in Lewiston, Maine approved for the 2019-20 season". NAHL. February 28, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "NAHL team in New Mexico approved for the 2019-20 season". NAHL. February 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "North American Hockey League [1984-2015] history and statistics". HockeyDB. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  10. ^ Jack McCarthy (April 24, 2003). "Freeze hockey team shuts down". Retrieved June 22, 2011.
  11. ^ "Detroit Little Caesars Statistics and History". HockeyDB. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  12. ^ "Rebel Yell". The Post-Journal. June 13, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Topeka Pilots — RoadRunners get a new name". WIBW-TV. June 5, 2018.
  14. ^, Machine Motors into Michigan, May 2, 2008
  15. ^, Owatonna membership approved for 2008–09, May 19, 2008
  16. ^, Albert Lea awarded NAHL franchise, May 1, 2008
  17. ^ Wenatchee World, Finally we have a hockey team, May 14, 2008
  18. ^, Fargo-Moorhead ceases operations, May 19, 2008
  19. ^, Jets touch down in Janesville, June 5, 2009
  20. ^, Zoldan, NAHL make a deal, August 13, 2009
  21. ^, NTDP to no longer compete in NAHL, February 26, 2008
  22. ^, Tornado to hit the ice again in 2009-10, April 29, 2009
  23. ^, Motor City changes nickname, logo, June 25, 2009
  24. ^, NAHL announces teams, alignment for 2014-15 season, May 14, 2014
  25. ^ "Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights join NAHL in 2015-16 season". North American Hockey League (NAHL). Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  26. ^ "Shreveport Mudbugs accepted into the NAHL for the 2016-17 season". OurSports Central. April 8, 2016.
  27. ^ "Wildcats' season ends with 4-3 overtime loss". Times Record News. April 22, 2017.
  28. ^ "NAHL team in Maryland to be called the Black Bears". May 9, 2018.
  29. ^ "Robertson Cup". NAHL. Retrieved March 17, 2015.

External links

Aberdeen Wings

The Aberdeen Wings are a Tier II junior ice hockey team based out of Aberdeen, South Dakota that began play for 2010–11. A member of the North American Hockey League in the Central Division, the Wings play their home games in the Odde Ice Center.

Amarillo Bulls

The Amarillo Bulls are a Tier II junior ice hockey team based in Amarillo, Texas. A member of the North American Hockey League's South Division, the team plays its home games in the Amarillo Civic Center.

Austin Bruins

The Austin Bruins are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League's Central Division. The Bruins play their home games in the Riverside Arena in Austin, Minnesota.

Chippewa Steel

The Chippewa Steel is a Tier II junior ice hockey team based in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, that plays in the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

Corpus Christi IceRays

This article is about the current Corpus Christi IceRays NAHL franchise. For the original WPHL/CHL franchise of same name, see: Corpus Christi IceRays (1998–2010).The Corpus Christi IceRays are a Tier II junior ice hockey team playing in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The IceRays are based in Corpus Christi, Texas, and play in the North American Hockey League's South Division. The "IceRays" moniker derives from the many different species of stingrays that inhabit the nearby Gulf of Mexico.

Erie Blades

The Erie Blades name was used by two professional ice hockey teams in Erie, Pennsylvania. Both teams played their home games in the Erie County Field House. After the second Blades team folded, the void was filled by the Erie Golden Blades, a team in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League from 1982 to 1987. They changed the colors from Orange and Black to Gold and Blue with the name change.

Jamestown Rebels

The Jamestown Rebels are a Tier II junior ice hockey team playing in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The team is based in Jamestown, New York, and play their home games at Northwest Arena.

Janesville Jets

The Janesville Jets are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League. Based in Janesville, Wisconsin, their home games are played at the Janesville Ice Arena.

Johnstown Tomahawks

The Johnstown Tomahawks are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League's East Division. The team plays its home games at the 1st Summit Bank Arena at Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Keystone Ice Miners

The Keystone Ice Miners were a Junior A Tier II ice hockey team based at The Ice Mine arena in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. The team moved to Connellsville in May 2014; prior to the move, the team was known as the Port Huron Fighting Falcons.

Lone Star Brahmas

The Lone Star Brahmas are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) based in North Richland Hills, Texas (a suburb of Fort Worth). The Brahmas play their home games at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

The Brahmas nickname is a tribute to the Fort Worth Brahmas of the Central Hockey League, which played their final six seasons (most notably winning the 2009 Ray Miron President's Cup championship) at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

The Brahmas most recently won the 2017 Robertson Cup.

Maryland Black Bears

The Maryland Black Bears are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League's East Division. The Black Bears play their home games in the Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, Maryland. Founded in 2018, the Black Bears are the first team in the 42-year history of the NAHL to be based out of Maryland.Playing on the NHL-sized sheet of ice at the Piney Orchard Ice Arena, a former training center of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the Black Bears' organization has exclusive use of over 7,000 square feet of space for locker rooms, training and equipment, offices, and workout areas. The organization also launched a team in the Tier III Eastern Hockey League, called Team Maryland, and several youth teams in the 2018–19 season, while also purchasing an ownership stake in the Tier I United States Hockey League's Youngstown Phantoms.The Black Bears played their inaugural game on September 14, 2018 at Piney Orchard, losing 6–3 to the New Jersey Titans.

Minnesota Magicians

The Minnesota Magicians are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League's Midwest Division. Based in Richfield, Minnesota, the Magicians play their home games at Richfield Ice Arena. The Magicians are the only Tier II junior hockey team in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro area.

Minnesota Wilderness

The Minnesota Wilderness are an American Tier II junior ice hockey team based in Cloquet, Minnesota, and play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The organization formerly fielded teams in the Canada-based Junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League for three seasons and in the American-based Tier III Minnesota Junior Hockey League.

Prior to the 2013–14 season, the Wilderness' owners bought the franchise rights to the St. Louis Bandits of the Tier II North American Hockey League and began play for that season.

North American Hockey League (1973–1977)

The North American Hockey League was a low-level minor professional hockey league that existed from 1973 to 1977. Several of the NAHL teams operated as developmental ("farm") teams for World Hockey Association franchises. The NAHL was one of two leagues, along with the Southern Hockey League, that were formed after the Eastern Hockey League ceased operations in 1973. The Lockhart Cup was the league's championship trophy. With the loss of a number of franchises, the NAHL elected to fold in September 1977.The league served as the inspiration for the film Slap Shot. Ned Dowd, who played for the Johnstown Jets, was the brother of the film's screenwriter, Nancy Dowd. Ned played for Johnstown during a season where the team was for sale, when his sister came to live in Johnstown and was inspired to write the screenplay. The film contains references to "Syracuse" and "Broome County", which were teams in the NAHL. Some of the incidents depicted actually occurred in actual NAHL games with the Johnstown Jets and the Carlson brothers, who inspired the characters, the Hanson Brothers).

Odessa Jackalopes

This article is about the current Odessa Jackalopes of the NAHL. For the original WPHL/CHL franchise of same name, see: Odessa Jackalopes (1997–2011).The Odessa Jackalopes are a Tier II junior ice hockey team playing in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The team is based in Odessa, Texas and plays their home games at Ector County Coliseum. Jackalopes games are broadcast on the radio on Classic Rock 102 or

Topeka Pilots

The Topeka Pilots are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League's South Division. The team's home arena is the 7,773-seat Landon Arena in Topeka, Kansas.

Wenatchee Wild

The Wenatchee Wild is a Junior A ice hockey team in the British Columbia Hockey League. The team plays its home games at the 4,300-seat Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Washington. Initially, the team was part of the North American Hockey League, joining as an expansion club for the 2008–09 season, and in that time they were well known for their rivalry with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The Wild moved to the BCHL for 2015–16, after seeking approval from both Hockey Canada and USA Hockey for three years.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights are a USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II junior ice hockey team from Pittston, Pennsylvania. In 2015, the Knights' junior hockey organization purchased the dormant Dawson Creek Rage franchise in the Tier II North American Hockey League (NAHL) and placed their Tier III franchise in the Eastern Hockey League into dormancy.

The players, ages 16–20, carry amateur status under Junior A guidelines and hope to earn a spot on higher level of junior hockey teams in the United States and Canada, Canadian Major Junior teams, Collegiate teams, and eventually professional teams.

North American Hockey League
Central Division
Midwest Division
East Division
South Division
Junior ice hockey leagues in North America
Canadian Hockey League
Hockey Canada
USA Hockey
United Hockey Union

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