JULY 19, 2018
Recently, the North American Hockey League (NAHL) announced that it had yet again set a new single-season record for NCAA commitments. Currently, the NAHL has 313 (and counting) so far during the 2017-18 season. That also includes a new record number of 223 NCAA Division I commitments. It once again re-emphasizes that no other junior league in the world saw as many NCAA commitments for their players, while they were actually playing in the league.
Playing a significant role in these NAHL commitments were a nice list of former NA3HL players. In total, 24 of the NAHL players (see list below) who had NCAA commitments during the 2017-18 season are alumni of the NA3HL.
The bottom line is when it comes to player advancement, the NA3HL is a step above the rest. The fact remains that when it comes to Tier III junior leagues, no other league has had more movement and advanced more players onto play in the NAHL than the NA3HL.
The NA3HL also saw over 130+ college commitments in 2017-18, with the number still growing. Almost 70% of those college commitments were NCAA commitments.
The NA3HL continues to make their mark in advancement of players. A total of 51 former NA3HL players played in the NAHL during the 2017-18 regular season. In addition, 24 more current NA3HL players were tendered by NAHL teams to play in the NAHL for the upcoming 2018-19 season. The NA3HL is the only league that has an exclusive NAHL tendering system available only to NA3HL players.
Former NA3HL players have been a big presence currently at NAHL main tryout camps the last two weeks, with dozens being invited to NAHL training camps to start the season in August.
“Each year, NA3HL players earn more and more opportunity to advance on to the NAHL. No other Tier III league in the country sends more players on to the NAHL than the NA3HL. Additionally, many more players move directly on to college hockey. It all depends on the individual players developmental path,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld. “The NA3HL enjoys all the same events that the NAHL does and has great owners and coaches. 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.”
NAHL coaches are also very clear and supportive of the NA3HL to NAHL development path.
“It is a development ladder and we are trying to get those kids onto college as well. As a former NA3HL coach and now NAHL coach, I can tell you it is a numbers game. There are only 23 spots on an NAHL roster and when we need a player, the NA3HL is one of the first places we look because they do a great job of development. The amount of kids that get moved back and forth is great and a lot of people don’t see that. They just look at who is on the roster to start the season. However, we are always moving players between the two leagues and there has never been more movement that we are seeing currently,” said Austin Bruins head coach Steve Howard, who formerly was a head coach in the NA3HL.
“Everyone’s path is different. No matter where you are at, there are situations that arise in hockey that are challenging. I coached for two years in the NA3HL and the path works and is successful if the players take ownership of it and put in the hard work. Players need to commit to the lifestyle that is going to make them successful and conduct themselves in a serious manner. That means training, nutrition, and discipline that will help them achieve their goals. The players that have moved onto the NAHL and beyond all have that in common,” said Chippewa Steel head coach Al Rooney, who was also a head coach in the NA3HL for two seasons.
One of the main benefits of the direct relationship with the NAHL is the presence of NAHL Central Scouting at all the NA3HL events during the season, which includes the NA3HL Showcase, the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament and the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship. 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 and college coaches. No other junior league in the United States has a system like it, where its primary mission is the advancement of players.
“NA3HL players have played big roles on our team. It is a pathway that has proven itself to work. The players have come in, contributed, and then gotten looks from the higher level. It is a unique situation because of the close bond between the NAHL and NA3HL,” said New Jersey Titans head coach Craig Doremus.
“Everyone develops differently and sometimes and player isn’t quite ready. We have had great success with NA3HL players. I have been able to take kids out of the NA3HL and turn them into NCAA hockey players. You can only play junior hockey for a very short period of time, so I tell guys that junior hockey is never over until you age out. Everyone develops at a different rate and time. Go play a year in the NA3HL, develop, and then you will be on our radar,” said Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights head coach Tom Kowal.
Former NA3HL players who had NCAA commitments in the NAHL this season
Brad Becker committed to Utica – New Jersey Titans (2015-16), Binghamton Junior Senators (2017-18)
Andrew Bellant committed to Michigan Tech – Bismarck Bobcats (2017-18), Flint Jr. Generals (2013-14)
Josh Benson committed to Sacred Heart – Fairbanks Ice Dogs (2017-18), North Iowa Bulls (2016-17)
Louis Boudon committed to Lake Superior State – Northeast Generals (2017-18), Metro Jets (2016-17)
Tyler Bump committed to St. Olaf – Minnesota Magicians (2016-17), North Iowa Bulls (2017-18)
Curtis Carlson committed to Nichols College – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (2017-18), West Michigan Wolves (2015-16)
Jake Cox committed to Southern New Hampshire – Shreveport Mudbugs (2017-18), St. Louis Jr. Blues (2017-18)
Blake Evennou committed to Ferris State – Lone Star Brahmas (2016-17), Glacier Nationals (2014-15)
Colton Fletcher committed to SUNY-Oswego – Aberdeen Wings (2017-18), Great Falls Americans (2015-16)
Jacob Garman committed to Framingham State – Corpus Christi IceRays (2015-16), La Crosse Freeze (2017-18)
George Hansen committed to Gustavus Adolphus – Austin Bruins (2017-18), Metro Jets (2017-18)
Jack Hatton committed to St. Mary’s – Shreveport Mudbugs (2017-18), St. Louis Jr. Blues (2017-18)
Travis Kothenbeutel committed to Nebraska-Omaha – Austin Bruins (2017-18), Granite City Lumberjacks (2014-15)
Luc Kreuser committed to Concordia – Northeast Generals (2016-17), New Ulm Steel (2017-18)
Arturas Laukaitis committed to Wisconsin-Stout – Minnesota Magicians (2017-18), Atlanta Capitals (2015-16)
Wyatt Mathews committed to Aurora – Lone Star Brahmas (2017-18), Missoula Junior Bruins (2016-17)
Andy McGlynn committed to Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Coulee Region Chill (2017-18), St. Louis Jr. Blues (2014-15)
Josef Mysak committed to Alaska-Anchorage – Austin Bruins (2017-18), St. Louis Jr. Blues (2017-18)
Logan Nelson committed to Wisconsin-Stout – Brookings Blizzard (2016-17), Alexandria Blizzard (2017-18)
Alex O’Dowd committed to Franklin Pierce – Northeast Generals (2016-17), Northeast Generals (2017-18)
Luke Perunovich committed to Providence College – Northeast Generals (2017-18), Twin City Steel (2015-16)
Toby Sengvongxay committed to Gustavus Adolphus – Johnstown Tomahawks (2017-18), La Crosse Freeze (2015-16)
Cole Stewart committed to Southern New Hampshire – Kenai River Brown Bears (2017-18), Yellowstone Quake (2017-18)
Noah Wilson committed to Army – Fairbanks Ice Dogs (2017-18), Chicago Jr. Bulldogs (2016-17)