Rise Up: The NA3HL’s advancement success story rolls on
April 11, 2019
The 2018-19 NA3HL season has come to a close and the league is thriving like never before. The excitement for the 2019-20 season is already building as the NA3HL will celebrate its 10th anniversary, and it is clear that the NA3HL continues to be on the rise and a step above the rest when it comes to player advancement and opportunity.
The NA3HL is only one of two USA Hockey-certified Tier III junior hockey leagues in the United States. Being a USA Hockey-certified league means that players enjoy benefits like insurance, oversight, player safety and players rights with a set of rules and responsibilities to protect the players from restrictive contracts, which may contain non-compete clauses.
No other league has had more movement and advanced more players onto play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) than the NA3HL. Thanks to additional and enhanced initiatives that were put in place this season in cooperation with the NAHL, more players from the NA3HL play, practice, and earn NCAA Division I scholarships with the NAHL than any other league.
“These enhanced initiatives and additional steps we have taken this season has increased the numbers and have provided an additional development path and enhanced experience for those players in the NA3HL. This season has been another incredible year for the NA3HL in terms of competition and player advancement,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld, who also oversees the NA3HL. “We all share in the common mission of creating an enhanced level of play and competition that is focused on a player’s development and advancement. We also share common goal for players to advance to college hockey while competing and developing in within USA Hockey Ladder of Development.
As part of this year’s enhanced initiatives, all 24 NAHL teams have engaged and worked in cooperation with NA3HL teams for increased access to players, including allowing NA3HL players to practice with NAHL teams during the 2018-19 season. The program creates additional dialogue between NAHL and NA3HL teams to find prospects and provide them an in-season opportunity for NAHL experience and evaluation. It offers one-of-a-kind opportunities not found anywhere else in USA Hockey-sanctioned junior hockey.
As a result, the NA3HL has continued to make their mark in advancement of players to the NAHL in 2018-19, as over 50 NA3HL alumni have played in the NAHL this season. The NA3HL is also the only league that has an exclusive NAHL tendering system available only to NA3HL players.
The NA3HL also continues to make its mark and is one of the leaders in junior hockey with the advancement of players onto the NCAA. In 2018, the NA3HL had over 150+ college commitments, with almost 70% of those being NCAA commitments. In addition, over 300 former NA3HL players are currently playing in the NCAA, and 13% of NCAA Division III freshmen this season previously played in the NA3HL.
The NA3HL also saw 24 former players not only move onto the NAHL, but also then earn an NCAA Division I commitment while playing in the NAHL.
NAHL Central Scouting
The NA3HL is also unique in the fact that players are benefiting from initiatives like NAHL Central Scouting. Overseen by NAHL Director of Player Personnel Tony Zasowski, who is a former NAHL head coach, NAHL Central Scouting is solely dedicated to finding NA3HL hockey players, evaluating them in a true unbiased manner and then organizing and providing that information to NAHL teams. No other junior league in the United States has a system like it, where its primary mission is the advancement of players.
The NA3HL is also the only league of its kind that has a dedicated Department of Player Safety that makes for the safest environment to develop as a Tier III player. Heading up the NAHL Department of Player Safety is Mark Faucette, who was an on-ice official in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 17 seasons.
The Department of Player Safety places more responsibility on the player to recognize a potential dangerous situation that puts an opponent at risk of injury, with an increase in disciplinary action to the repeat offenders of each situation. It also focuses on dangerous, punishing and reckless play to determine the severity and surrounding circumstances, as well as the result to determine if disciplinary action is needed with an NHL-style video review. Ultimately, it makes the NA3HL a better league that is committed to creating a safe and fair environment in which the players can compete.
Finally, the NA3HL enjoys the unparalleled exposure league-wide events like the NA3HL Showcase in December, the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament in February, and this weekend’s Fraser Cup Championship.
Not only do hundreds of college and NAHL scouts attend the events, but the NA3HL also takes time out to educate all of the players with NCAA Compliance and Education Seminars that are mandatory for all players to attend. The seminars, which are run by Director of NCAA Compliance and Education Craig Barnett, focus will be on differences between NCAA Division I, Division III and ACHA, the breakdown of NCAA I conference landscape, NCAA Initial Eligibility information including important new rules and how future players will be affected, the recruiting process and how to market yourself.