Entering its fourth season in 2013-14, the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), one of nine USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III Junior leagues, serves as one of the top training grounds in the country by providing the best coaching, exposure and developmental vehicles available for student-athletes in its classification.
The NA3HL began back in the early 1980's as the Junior B level Central States Hockey League (CSHL). In 2007, the CSHL changed from Junior B to Tier III Junior A under the USA Hockey classification system. On November 1, 2010 it was announced that the North American Hockey League (NAHL) would take control of the CSHL. The NAHL-CSHL affiliation allowed for a more structured junior hockey system to provide athletes with more opportunities to advance to college and pro hockey. At the time of the take over the league was renamed to the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).
The primary mission of the NA3HL, which is managed organizationally by the NAHL, is to provide a structured developmental environment for student-athletes whose youth options are limited but are still reaching their potential and have aspirations of playing in the NAHL or United States Hockey League (USHL) and eventually the NCAA or American College Hockey Association (ACHA).
Through the NAHL's vast resources for development and exposure, the creation of the NA3HL provides another worthy path for players to grow, on and off the ice, while being showcased in front of the entire junior, college and professional scouting community. It also allows the NAHL and NA3HL to work with USA Hockey's youth affiliates regarding junior-youth conflicts of same-age players.
In addition to its regular-season schedule and playoffs, the NA3HL, which boasts a geographical footprint with 21 teams in 10 states (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin) allowing players to compete and excel academically at home, will participate in the NAHL's high-exposure events, which attract hundreds of college, junior and professional coaches and scouts.
The NA3HL will have three events during the 2013-14 season. All 21 teams will compete in a league-wide Showcase held from November 21-25, 2013 at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville, Illinois. The second event of the season will be the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament, which will take place alongside the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament and NAPHL Championship series in Troy, Michigan from February 17-19, 2014. The NA3HL will then finish their season with the Silver Cup Championship Tournament, which crowns the NA3HL's playoff champion. The event will be held from March 27-30, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
The NA3HL also participates in the NAHL's wide menu of marketing partnerships, including its relationships with Easton, the Official Equipment Supplier of the NAHL; FASTHockey, the Official Internet Broadcast Provider of the NAHL; OT Sports, the Official Jersey Supplier of the NAHL and Brian's Custom Sports, Official Goaltender Supplier of the NAHL.
Building upon the recent successes of the league's North Iowa Bulls winning the 2013 USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championship and the player advancement during the 2012-13 season to the NAHL and other junior leagues, the NA3HL set a new standard for player movement. In addition to the seven draft picks, 23 NA3HL players were tendered to NAHL teams throughout the 2012-13 season.