The NA3HL 2018-19 season is set to begin in just over 3 weeks (September 7th). The league recently announced it will begin it’s annual season preview next week. Showcasing each of it’s 37 member teams for the upcoming season. The NA3HL has made a few changes over this offseason: organizations leaving, organizations coming in, organizations changing names and divisional realignments.
I believe the most important shift the league has taken this offseason is the ladder – divisional realignments. Particularly the movement in the Central and West divisions respectfully.
The Central Division will see new faces this season with: Peoria, Milwaukee, Evansville and St. Louis joining the Central Division for the upcoming 2018-19 campaign and Coulee Region, Wisconsin and Wausau remaining in the Central for a 7 team division. While geographically the division is spread out, making for some longer roadies with the boys the talent and competition has been concentrated to a single division. Not saying this will be the best division in the league. However, with St. Louis joining the division with Coulee Region and Wisconsin. I could see some great Tier 3 Junior hockey games being played in the second half of the season. It will be interesting to say the least how competitive from top to bottom this division is throughout the season going into the playoffs.
The West Division is undeniably awesome – speaking from past experience coaching within the league, historical information and knowing the Coaching staffs within each of these organizations. I think every weekend throughout the season in the West will be nothing short of all out war! The West has brought in North Iowa & Rochester from the Central Division. The division is now made up of primarily Minnesota teams (with the exception of North Iowa). In no particular order: Alexandria, Breezy Point, Granite City, New Ulm, North Iowa, Rochester and Willmar. Will all compete in the West Division for the upcoming 2018-19 season. I am personally excited to see how each one of these organizations match up in divisional play throughout the season – even more excited to see what happens come playoffs!
What’s notable is looking at some of the statistical data about these new divisions. Specifically, speaking to the college commitments from the 2017-18 season. From the leagues website, “The NA3HL also saw over 130+ college commitments in 2017-18.”
A total of 50% of the 130 league college commitments in the 2017-18 season came from the organizations within the (new) Central & West Divisions. 37 college commitments coming from the West Division and 28 college commitments coming from the Central Division, respectfully. The competition within these two divisions is immense. Specifically, the new West division. It will be great to circle back to this post a year from now to see how many commitments come from each division within the NA3HL.
Only time will tell how things shake out! Only 3 weeks till it all begins. We at The Junior Hockey Podcast would like to wish best of luck to the NA3HL and all of its member organizations as they begin their 2018-19 season.