The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) is pleased to announce the four teams and head coaches that will that will compete in the new NA3HL South Division, which will begin play this upcoming 2013-14 season. The 22-team NA3HL will be divided into four divisions (Central, East, South and West) for the 2013-14 season.
The South Division will be composed of four teams: the Dallas Jr. Stars (Dr Pepper StarCenter, Euless, TX), the McKinney Warriors (Dr Pepper StarCenter, McKinney, TX), the Sugar Land Imperials (Sugar Land Ice Center, Sugar Land, TX) and the Topeka RoadRunners (Kansas Expo Centre, Topeka, KS).
“I think we are all looking forward to the challenge of adding a South Division to the NA3HL. A lot of credit is due to the owners and coaches of those clubs for taking the risk to provide a true USAH opportunity for the players,” said NA3HL President and NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “I think the most important piece for the players is that the NAHL has seven clubs in the South Division that will be able to establish player relationships within their geographic footprint which will provide more opportunity for movement and advancement during the season between the two leagues.”
The Dallas Jr. Stars will play out of the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Euless, Texas and will be coached by Jason Deitsch. Deitsch, an alumni of both the NA3HL and NAHL, just completed his professional hockey career with the Allen Americans. As team captain, he led the team to the Miron Cup Championship this past season as champions of the Central Hockey League. During his junior career he played one season for the NA3HL’s Toledo Cherokee, followed by four seasons playing in the NAHL for the Gaylord Grizzlies, Grand Rapids Bearcats and Texas Tornado. In 2001, he was the captain and led the Tornado to their first Robertson Cup Championship. After four years in the NCAA at St. Norbert College, where he was also named an All-American, he played nine years of professional hockey in the AHL, ECHL, CHL, UHL and Europe. Deitsch is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, but has resided in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for the past five years.
The McKinney Warriors will play out of the Dr Pepper StarCenter in McKinney, Texas and will be coached by Jeff Ramsay. After growing up in Canada and playing junior hockey, Ramsay moved behind the bench where he coached midget teams in Winnipeg and Toronto. In 1999, Ramsay moved to the Dallas area serving as the GM of the then newly opened Grapevine Mills Ice Rink where he was instrumental in the creation and growth of the original Lone Star Wolves Travel Association over the course of the next eight seasons. During the 2008-09 season, Ramsay coached his 16U Tier II team to three tournament titles, a State Championship and was a finalist at the Rocky Mountain District tournament. A year later in 2009-10, Ramsey led his Ice Jets 18U Tier II squad to a State and National Championship in the 2A division. He has been with the Allen Americans youth organization for the past three seasons.
The Sugar Land Imperials will play out of the Sugar Land Ice Center in Sugar Land, Texas and will be coached by Jarod Palmer. Palmer is also a graduate of the NAHL, as he played in the league for the USNTDP team during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. After two more years of junior hockey, Palmer then played four years of NCAA Division I hockey for Miami University. The native of Fridley, Minnesota, suited up for the Redhawks from 2006-10 and appeared in all 169 games during his career, setting the school record. He competed in two NCAA National Championship games during his final two seasons. Following the conclusion of his collegiate career, Palmer signed an entry-level contract in the spring of 2010 as a free agent with the Minnesota Wild. He made his NHL debut for his hometown Wild on December 17, 2011, versus the New York Islanders. He spent the better part of his professional playing career with the Houston Aeros in the AHL until his retirement this past season.
The Topeka RoadRunners will play out of the Kansas Expo Centre in Topeka, Kansas. The team has not yet named a head coach, although several have been interviewed and an announcement is expected very soon. The RoadRunners will partner with their NAHL club of the same name, which has had tremendous success since their arrival in Topeka back in 2007. Almost 40 players have moved onto NCAA programs the last four seasons, as the RoadRunners continue to be one of the league leaders when it comes to commitments. “We want our NA3HL team to be an extension and a mirror of our NAHL club, with the primary focus being on development of the player,” said Topeka Owner/Governor Don Stone. “We not only want to develop players to get the opportunity to play for the RoadRunners NAHL club, but also any club in the NAHL or upper levels of junior hockey. We will be using the same system and skill development philosophies at the NA3HL level that has enabled our NAHL club to have so much success through the years.”
The South Division teams will compete in a 48-game schedule and will take part of the NA3HL Showcase which will be held November 22-25 in Romeoville, Illinois. They will also take part in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament slated for February 16-18, 2014 in Troy, Michigan. The winner of the South Division playoffs will join the winners of the three other divisions in the NA3HL for the 2014 Silver Cup Championship Tournament, which will be held March 28-31 in Geneva, Illinois.
The NA3HL will be entering its fourth season in 2013-14 and 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. In 2013, the NA3HL’s North Iowa Bulls solidified this by winning the USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championship. In addition to the dozens of players who moved up to play in the NAHL during the 2012-13 season, 30 NA3HL players were either tendered or drafted to NAHL teams throughout the 2012-13 season.