NAHL 2018-2019 Thread

Discussion in 'All other USA Amateur, USHL, NAHL, USNTDP etc.' started by Captain Crash, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. Captain Crash Registered User

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    Firstly, as a Pennsylvania native myself, I'm really disappointed things didn't work out in Philly. It's a good hockey town that used to support minor league alongside their Flyers, so when they announced their move to the City of Brotherly Love, my hope was that they would be successful enough that they'd soon have a cross-state brother in Pittsburgh as well that could last longer than the Forge did. Full credit to the Rebels ownership as they made a pretty valiant effort to make things work, even playing a game in the Wachovia Center, but just couldn't get the city interested. Hopefully that didn't kill chances for a team in the Pittsburgh metro some day.

    Jamestown is such a unique hockey market. It's a big enough town with a nice enough rink in a region where hockey is popular and juniors is respected. It has all the underpinnings for a success story like Johnstown. But as you noted, their checkered past has really strained the local fans. It probably doesn't help that the Jamestown area itself has been having some serious economic issues. This was for a long time a minor league baseball stronghold, but the declining attendance forced a relocation of the Jammers to West Virginia, and in the years since even low level summer collegiate baseball (baseball's rough equivalent to juniors) couldn't survive there, despite even winning a championship. So times are tough for sports in Jamestown.

    How has this affected the Rebels? Well, the NAHL posts their average attendance at 708, but it's pretty misleading. Three of Jamestown's "home" games were played at the NAHL Showcase in Minnesota, each posting attendance of 1,271. Unfortunately, Jamestown hasn't posted close to that at their actual home rink, where they've had a high of 753 for their actual home opener and a low of 298 (though this was for some reason on a Wednesday night). The true average for Jamestown is 520 per game, which is an improvement but still not very good. I was a lot more hopeful for things in Jamestown this time around, but I do think there's a good chance that this improves as the season goes on. A Saturday night game hosting Johnstown will help.
     
  2. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Having lived and played in Pittsburgh for most of high school, juniors there won't happen. Like Philly, there is intense concentration on professional sports with no interest to spare. The Steelers are undisputed king with the Pens and HS football following behind. Nutting and the Buccos are on the downswing.

    A recent USHL game at the UPMC Lemieux Ice Center in Cranberry was empty. FHL at Rostraver was tried. Their Tier III junior team draws parents and few others. Not to chirp the average Yinzer, but there isn't interest in non-Penguins hockey. The Pens gained broader attention from people new to hockey fandom in the early 90s who then went back to the Steelers until the Crosby-Malkin-Fleury era started. AAA programs produce good talent but hockey in the area isn't developed enough. Plus, there's no rink to ice the team. UPMC Lemieux is maxed out for ice slots, Rostraver wasn't even fit for the Fed. RMU's rink can't be that much bigger than Mt. Lebo or Southpointe. The college crowd idea was tried by the Rebels, being within 100 yards of two huge schools, and that didn't work. If the kids won't leave their dorms to support their school team, they certainly won't leave for some kids they don't know.

    Where else could the Rebels go if they fail in Jamestown? A lot of rust belt towns aren't doing well and things aren't going to drastically improve. They have an 8 year lease, but the wealthy movie-making owner is insistent on finding a place where they draw fans. Every other East Division team owner besides Johnstown is reliant on other forms of income besides ticket sales and sponsorships to keep the teams afloat. NJ's and WBS's own their rinks, Maryland's manage other rinks and teams, not sure what NE's does. There's not many options left on the entire East Coast. Danbury would be interesting, Elmira would've been too but the Fed set up shop there, Lewiston has been talked about but nothing has happened, Albany has issues from their arena to fan apathy. And the league likes the four even divisions of six stable teams each, could the Rebels be allowed to relocate to Wisconsin or Minnesota worst case scenario?
     
  3. sbkbghockey Registered User

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    I think any Fed league market would be at least worth exploring. Danbury seems like a good fit for the NA, although minor league hasn't seemed to work just like juniors hasn't seemed to work in Jamestown. Danbury is close to lots of D3 and DI schools so another thing it has going.

    I have to think the NAHL might look to Michigan again in the future, the league has a lot of history in the state back to the early years. The latest teams didn't work in the Mitten but those teams set up during the big recession (2008-2010 timeframe) when money was very tight. A lot of the Michigan cities have seen resurgence of late and the state is a leader in DI talent, NAHL talent.
     
  4. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    I wouldn't count Danbury being close to lots of NCAA hockey schools as a positive. The NA gets commits regardless of where the teams are located, the South Division is a testament of that. For better or for worse, the financially solid junior teams are mostly located where they are the only entertainment option in town, let alone the only hockey option. Over five years in the Fed, the Whalers averaged between 1,500-2,000 people per game and the Hatters of the UHL got more than that. It's a rarity in New England that a small city a short drive from multiple D1, minor, and pro hockey teams has such support.

    As for Michigan, what markets could they go into? Port Huron is solidly entrenched FHL territory now that the league is trying to become more than paid beer league. Sounds like Battle Creek will follow them soon. There wouldn't be any easy NAHL travel partners unless they make the long trek around the Great Lakes to Wisconsin or Minnesota. They would have to add an entire division if they didn't want astronomical travel costs. Traverse City, American Soo, Marquette, and Alpena all had pretty decent support but relocated for various reasons, and had other teams leave the state after not getting much fan support. Save for Soo, who joined the NOJ after losing all their travel partners, those three locations had their USPHL teams fold. The markets are open.

    The NAHL move to the East Coast helps for developmental reasons, but the main motive was to combat the USPHL-EJHL Boston Mafia figures. Now the USPHL includes Michigan in their footprint and not even the NA3 has a presence there. It could be the next battleground if the turf war heats up further.
     
  5. sbkbghockey Registered User

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    Good points Barclay,

    It highlights one of the major issues with the NAHL model entering the Northeast. The NAHL model is largely the traditional junior model with revenue based on tickets and sponsorships but junior hockey in the Northeast does not have a fan following like the upper-midwest and Canada. There's way more competition for entertainment dollars.

    As for Michigan, it was just a hutch, I think the NAHL is salty about losing the entire NA3HL division to the USPHL Turf war. It's also a state that produces a lot of talent for the league and they still host NAPHL events in Detroit and teams host training camps/tryouts in the Detroit metro. It's a state, I don't think the league wants to give up as easily. However, as you point out, the USPHL might make more sense as Michigan, like the Northeast has been shown to not be a attendance driven junior hockey market. NAHL or USPHL, I think the state is ripe for Tier II juniors (either the NA or NCDC)
     
  6. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    You're right in that they're definitely salty about losing an entire NA3 division, almost overnight too. But, how many of the really good Michigan players are choosing to stay there and play instead of leaving. All those Michigan-based teams, save for Metro Jets and maybe Lansing, traditionally aren't very good on-ice or in the commitments pages. I'm not sure whether the Michigan kids are willing to stay in-state if they don't make a Tier II team. For kids who are part of the Belle Tire, Honeybaked, Little Caesar's, Victory Honda, and Compuware clans, they're not far from the Ontario leagues, all of which have much cheaper tuition and commitments records better than the current teams, once again save for Metro Jets and maybe Lansing. Maybe that will change with time, that's definitely what the USPHL is betting on.

    The center of power in-state is certainly all around Detroit. Over the past 10 years, teams of levels have failed in Marquette, Ironwood, Alpena, Kalkaska, Traverse City, etc. I can't gauge junior hockey interest in any of those locations, but the power base has slowly receded south down the mitten.
     
  7. Captain Crash Registered User

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    I'm not saying a junior team in Pittsburgh is imminent or even likely, but I wouldn't rule it out either. While I think the Rebels working in Philly would have helped the cause, I don't think that their demise at all means an NAHL team can't work in Pittsburgh.

    Firstly, I don't really think it's fair to base this off of the Vengeance's attendance. While they may only draw "parents and few others" that's true of almost every Tier 3 team. Their business model isn't based on ticket revenue, so it's an afterthought. There's a big difference between the USPHL and the USHL or even the NAHL. Heck, if anything, the fact that the Vengeance has survived in the area for over two decades (albeit under a few different names) kind of shows that juniors has a place here.

    The USHL Fall Classic in Cranberry was not at all empty; there was a fairly full crowd there, especially for the evening games. It was tough to even find parking. The rink's management has even discussed a possible third ice pad down in the future that would have a much higher seating capacity to potentially house a USHL team. In its current state, the rink could probably pull off an NAHL team in Rink 1. As you mentioned, it is a rather busy rink; however, if the Pens owned the team (and there have been credible rumors that the Lemieux ownership group kicked the tires on a USHL franchise) they would be able to prioritize their ice time. That said, I get the sense that if the Pens still want to fill that rink with a full time tenant, it will be with an NWHL team, and recent NWHL games there have been a big success.

    Southpointe is actually an interesting one. After losing the Penguins, the rink was purchased by a company that owns both rinks and junior teams. The new owners' portfolio includes teams at all three tiers of junior hockey, including the nearby Youngstown Phantoms. One of their strategies in generating new revenue for the rinks it buys has been to place buy a team to place in it. Could that be in their plans for Canonsburg? So far, they've done some renovations, added a restaurant, and sold the naming rights for what is now Printscape Arena. The seating capacity is probably too low for anything beyond Tier 3, but there's likely some ways to cram in enough for an NAHL team if they keep investing in the rink. And minor league baseball does well in nearby Washington, PA, so it seems possible.

    RMU's rink is actually big enough as they previously hosted the NAHL's Pittsburgh Forge. The Forge relocated when RMU bought the rink and added NCAA D1 hockey. So despite having enough capacity, that one is likely off the table.

    Rostraver is a dump, even after winning Hockeyville. So nope.

    If Greensburg could add seating somehow to the Nevin Arena, I think an NAHL team could do rather well there. While Greensburg itself isn't very big, it's surrounded by rather affluent suburbs that could take to having a way to catch decent hockey with their families without fighting the traffic on the Parkway East. It would also be a natural rival for Johnstown.

    So aside from Cranberry, Greensburg, and Southpointe, the other location I would look to is Shadyside. The city is seeking to redevelop the old Hunt Armory and proposals have called for an ice rink with plenty of seating. How much seating is yet to be determined, but it's a big building with plenty of space. Pittsburgh's East End has become a development hot bed and this rink would be in walking distance to many families and young professionals. The Pens have even offered to help run the rink, and given their recent penchant to grow hockey as a sport rather than just their brand, they just might be interested in having a junior team there.

    I may be biased as a Pittsburgher, but while I do recognize that everything would have to be done just right, I think there's a possibility.
     
  8. Captain Crash Registered User

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    That's a great question. Danbury would be my pick. Lewiston sure does have a tempting arena and a legitimate hockey market, but that's really spreading the geography. I would also look at The Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury, Maryland. The area supports its minor league baseball team well enough, but I'm not sure how well the Delmarva Peninsula would buy into junior hockey.
     
  9. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    UPMC Cranberry would be one of the smallest rinks in the USHL, as well as the easternmost team with the roughest travel schedule in the league. Not even sure if the UShow is looking to expand right now either.

    When I moved last year, the construction costs went up for the rink at the Armory in Shadyside and they aren't coming back down any time soon. Chatham actually added their NCAA D3 team counting on the facility being built and moved to the Ice Infection. Being a one-time Pittsburgher, I got to talking with the Zamboni guy and learned the college is putting in a ton of money to make the rink less of a crapshow, enough that they aren't going to bolt despite it being 45 minutes away from campus. A new coat of paint isn't going to help, it's still a trash heap on top of the weirdest hill in the world.

    There's always been rumors about new rinks popping up east of Pittsburgh and it wouldn't surprise me if Shadyside is off the table. Delmont almost put a rink at Gateway HS in the mid 2000s. The church by the Levin's off 22 in Monroeville tried to buy the rink materials from Bethel Park since they took down the one side and made it a pool. Norwin chose to build a new football stadium over a rink, and a hockey parent ran for mayor in Pitcairn with the plan to build a sportsplex with a hockey rink on the side of the hill.

    I still think that hockey isn't developed enough in Pittsburgh where people would come out and support a junior team. It would be interesting if the high schools built single rinks like a lot of CT high schools have done. The nice ones are the same price as getting field turf replaced (~$4-5 million). HS football is a big deal in Pittsburgh so I doubt they'll take that option up. But if some of bigger and wealthier schools like NA and Upper St. Clair did it, it would certainly help develop hockey and interest in the sport. Having talked with people in my old high school's developmental program, Pittsburgh needs to streamline hockey and the PIHL-PAHL is the main reason why. There's some very good AAA programs like the Pens Elite and Viper Stars, but it's pretty indicative of what I feel the Pittsburgh hockey market is like. Very strong at the top but it falls away once you get beyond that. If they sponsored high school and got more rinks, then they would certainly become join Michigan, Minnesota, and New England as traditional hockey markets.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  10. Captain Crash Registered User

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    As I mentioned, the idea discussed by rink management with regards to a USHL team was in their vision of a possible third ice sheet with a more legitimate seating bowl. Of course it is not up to standard in its current form. Regardless, it really seems like if the Pens are adding a team to the rink, they've changed course for an NWHL team. Another sold out neutral site game last week. Probably a matter of time before Cranberry is home to its own NWHL team.


    The original developer bailed from the Hunt Armory project, but the city has continued to move forward with a plan to convert it to an ice rink and the Penguins have been tabbed to advise the project. The city seems determined to make it happen. I can't speak to Chatham's long term plans.
     
  11. Captain Crash Registered User

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    The Johnstown TomahaWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWks' winning streak finally came to an end this past weekend at an impressive 17. The Jamestown Rebels did the impossible in front of a hometown crowd proving that they are still a relevant part of the East Division, ultimately splitting the two game series with Johnstown. Still, the Tomahawks have now built a seemingly unbeatable lead atop the East.
     
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  12. Captain Crash Registered User

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    The 2018-2019 NAHL season has reached the midway point!

    The guys over at Bus League Hockey put together a really nice mid-season report for the NAHL, looking at each division's playoff races and offering up a few "pretend awards." Can't say I disagree with any of their assessment, with maybe the exception that I'd East Division's Top Goalie award to Jamestown's Ryan Keane. Keane gets a whole lot less support than McPhail does but gets the job done.

    They also point out one of the most notable developments as of the holiday break: Johnstown controls the top 3 in scoring with Samuel Solensky, Carson Briere, and Cameron Herbert. Incidentally, these three are typically on the same line. In every Johnstown game I've watched this season, they always seem like a scoring threat every time they're on the ice. Truly impressive.

    Since Bus League Hockey's report only gave divisional pretend awards, please allow me to offer my own pretend award for league-wide mid-season MVP: Johnstown's Sam Solensky. While Carson Briere is no doubt a huge talent on his own, from what I've seen Solensky really ties the Tomahawks' firepower together and is a big reason they're so dominant early on.
     
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  13. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    Thanks for pointing us to this mid-season report, Cap'n. It's a good excuse to catch up on Tier II Jr. progress for the first half.

    Honorable mention in the scoring category to Amarillo's Logan Jenuwine - and not just because I absolutely LOVE that last name. :thumbu: Ranked 5th in League points & playing at a 1.46 pt./game clip, he is a very big reason why the Bulls now have a 9-point lead in a very competitive South Division. His future Western Michigan coaching staff must be anxious for his arrival.
     
  14. Thebesthockey Registered User

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    Coming here to get more details on the NAHL

    how does that compare to NCDC from a hockey operations point of view ?

    Is Nahl a stable league or just another jr league where 25 % of organizations are stable or allot of turn around and allot of players filling in and out

    looking at the rosters of different teams and seeing the amount of players on each team tells me at first glance its cluster f*** with high turnover

    whats the appeal for players for this league vs other jr leagues

    what are the serious teams that run a good ship ?
     
  15. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Hockey opps is about the same. They all have scouts out looking for potential draft picks, equipment managers, etc. The only difference is the NCDC has easier call ups since most of theirs are from lower levels within their own organization.

    NAHL is the most stable it’s ever been. Four divisions of six teams each for the first time ever. They used to have teams relocate every year but that hasn’t happened for a few years now. Some don’t draw fans well, but make up the financial shortfall by being owned by the rink. Others own Tier 3 junior teams and run them at a profit to make up for any loses the NAHL team takes. Others are the only entertainment in town, let alone the only hockey option, and selling a few thousand tickets each night is probably a good revenue stream.

    Tier I and Tier II rosters are a jumble in every league. Players ask for trades, get sent down, get called up, get hurt, younger players get their cup of coffee to help prep them, and a dozen other things regularly happen. It happens in the UShow, BC, OJ, and the rest. The NA is not special in that regard. Coaches plan on having 40 kids rostered at some point throughout the year.

    The appeal for the NA is that most players get D1 commits or very high end D3 commits. That sells itself. It’s also tuition-free and you only pay for housing. That makes it rise above some close competitors like the CC, OJ, and a few others but puts it just about level with the BC.

    The serious teams that run a good ship? Bit of a loaded question. They’re all serious at Tier II. This is when you have owners with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, and players and coaches with their careers on the line. You’d be hard pressed to find an organization with their act not together. If they dont have their ducks all lined up, they aren’t in business long. Darwinism isn’t expressed much better in anything than free-to-play juniors.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
  16. Thebesthockey Registered User

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    thanks for this appreciate it

    couple more


    does the league play 4 lines / 3 lines

    and does travel have a big role and impact on players ?
     
  17. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    League roster limit is something like 23 last time I checked, so I’m guessing a lineup would go 12 forwards, 6 d, and 3 goalies. Unless you mean who actually goes out because there’s some coaches who will roll with 2/3 lines. But that’s something that will vary wildly with coaches, game situations, talent available...

    How bad travel is varies by team. There’s teams on a proverbial geographic island. Kids on the 2 Alaskan teams spend a month on the road before they have a long homestand to save on jet fuel expenses. South Division teams will regularly be saddling up for 9/10 hour roadies. East Division and then some of the Minnesota teams go on some shorter bus trips and have a good chance of sleeping in their own bed after games.

    As for impact, most of the kids have played AAA by this point. They’re prepped and know how to deal with being in a bus for a long time and shaking off the cobwebs.
     
  18. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    Refer to this mislabeled topic for examples of both.
     
  19. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    The question was about franchise stability, which Brookings has under Canavati's ownership. They're in their 7th season and aren't searching for a new home, which for juniors is about as good as it gets. Is this stability based predominantly on frugality? Yes, not just for Brookings but for the two Tier III teams under his ownership as well. Canavati knows Brookings won't bring in a lot of revenue so he uses outside sources. If the question was about skimpy ownership groups, then it's a different answer.
     
  20. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    Tomato, hockey puck. You & I are both speculating on the underlying reasons for the Brookings incident.

    I do appreciate your thorough responses to @Thebesthockey .
     
  21. Thebesthockey Registered User

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    thks all !
     
  22. Captain Crash Registered User

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    Ladies and gentlemen of HFboards, we have reached the 2019 playoffs in the NAHL. Division semi-finals begin this week, and your bracket is as follows:

    [​IMG]

    Let's see your picks for Round 1!
     
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  23. Captain Crash Registered User

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    East Division Update:

    The regular season champion Johnstown Tomahawks are on to the second round, but the Northeast Generals sure gave them a lot more trouble than their regular season records would have you expect. The series went back and forth, with the Hawks winning games 1 and 3 and the Gens taking games 2 and 4 to force a decisive Game 5. The Gens were able to hang with them through 50 minutes of play before Johnstown managed to take the lead in the final minutes of the third period and claim the series. Much, much closer than I had anticipated and I'm not sure that bodes well for the Hawks moving forward. Could their regular season dominance have given them a Tampa-effect?

    The Tomahawks currently await the winner of the Jamestown vs New Jersey series. After the Rebels took a commanding 2-0 series lead, the Titans pushed back with two home wins of their own to force Game 5 back in Jamestown tonight.
     
  24. JungleJON Registered User

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    Johnstown & Amarillo lead their series 1 - 0 heading into today's games.
    Don't think too many people thought the Tomahawks would beat Fairbanks even one game.
    Fairbanks had won six straight playoff games heading into last night game.
     
  25. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    For a moment there, I forgot that the Championship games were all being played @ Fogerty in Blaine. Jamestown-to-Fairbanks-to-Jamestown in less than 3 days' time would've been one helluva road trip. :confused:
     

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