Tier III Junior Hockey is probably one of the most active war zones in the world. While some may not agree with my use of that analogy, its the most accurate descriptor I can come up with.
Between USA Hockey and AAU fighting for territory, and the leagues within the two governing bodies acting as the foot soldiers, you have a very active war zone.
Missoula Montana is the most recent battle ground. Having been AAU territory for the last few years with the very successful Missoula Maulers of the Western States Hockey League, the hockey world and WSHL were taken by surprise when the team owner decided to pack up and leave. Surprised because he didn’t tell anyone he was doing it before it happened.
More surprise was added when someone from the Maulers camp suggested Missoula get an NA3HL team before letting the WSHL know what was happening.
Now, a lesson on why you always need to be careful of what you say and who you say it to.
The NA3HL in just a matter of days has come into the market and received approval for a new franchise to be known as the Missoula Bruins. Yes, less than one week since the Maulers owner, or someone from within his camp suggested the NA3HL come to Missoula, it has happened.
Why is this a big deal? Why is this proof of a turf war? The rules of expansion under USA Hockey would have required this team to have been approved as an expansion team more than six months ago in order for the team to play in the 2016 -2017.
Yet, within a matter of not even seven days, the NA3HL has an expansion team approved by their league, and makes a statement they will begin play in less than four months!
No one acts this fast without good reason, and no one acts this fast with recruiting season already in full swing if there was not a great sense of urgency.
If you needed any more proof of a turf war, this is it. Now, this is only one small battle lost for AAU, while they have recently acquired a lot of new territory out east and in Canada. All we can do is continue to watch the scrum and wait for the next story to break.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher