Entering its seventh season in 2016-17, the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), one of 6 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 Collegiate 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 48 teams in 21 states (Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming) 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 2016-17 season. All 48 teams will compete in a league-wide Showcase held from December 16-18, 2016 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.
The second event of the season will be the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament, which will take place alongside the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Plymouth, Michigan from February 27-28, 2017. 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 29-April 2, 2017 in Romeoville, Illinois.
The NA3HL also participates in the NAHL's wide menu of marketing partnerships, including its relationships with Bauer, the Official Equipment Supplier of the NAHL, Vaughn, the Official goaltending Equipment Supplier of the NAHL, and FASTHockey, the Official Internet Broadcast Provider of the NAHL.
The player advancement during the 2015-16 season to the NAHL and other junior leagues set a new standard for player movement. In addition to the 40+ players who advanced to play in the NAHL throughout the season, 32 NA3HL players were either tendered or drafted by NAHL teams during the 2015-16 season, having the most movement to the NAHL out of any Tier III junior league, along while dozens more made NCAA commitments.