On February 13th, TJHN reported that the Chicago Junior Bulldogs had filed an appeal with USA Hockey seeking to join the NA3HL while leaving the the Minnesota Junior Hockey League. Story Link.
TJHN has obtained information from multiple sources that the Bulldogs appeal to USA Hockey was heard over the last seventy two hours and that the decision was made to allow the Bulldogs to transfer to the NA3HL.
How the appeal was won is another story though…..
While the Junior Bulldogs are an “affiliate member” of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League under a negotiation that was completed last summer when the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League was disbanded, they are not full voting members of the MNJHL. None of the former GLJHL members are full voting members of the league at this point.
Only being an “affiliate” of the MNJHL made the decision a little easier for USA Hockey when looking at the team becoming a full member of the NA3HL.
What really made it easy for USA Hockey was the failure of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League to respond to the appeal filed by the Junior Bulldogs!
Yes, you read that correctly, the MNJHL either forgot, or did not respond to the appeal in time to have their objection considered in the appeal process.
The NA3HL, gains a team, and they also regain the significant hockey market in Chicago. A market lost when the NA3HL lost the Chicago Hitmen last year.
The MNJHL now has an uneven amout of teams in the Great Lakes division which will present significant scheduling problems next season unless they are able to add a team this summer under the “exigent circumstances” clause for USA Hockey expansion. Clearly the loss of the Bulldogs based upon the MNJHL not responding, or not responding in a timely manner would constitute exigent circumstances for the Great Lakes Division teams.
The Great Lakes Division Affiliate teams do have dormant franchises that they could possibly reactivate in order to fill in for the loss of the Bulldogs.
Another possibility is a defection from the AAU Sanctioned Mid West Junior Hockey League. Multiple sources within the MWJHL have reported several teams talking with USA Hockey Sanctioned leagues including the Great Lakes Division of the MNJHL and the NA3HL.
TJHN will update this story as more information becomes available.