Springfield, Illinois – It’s been 125 days since the North American Hockey League (NAHL) paused the 2019-20 regular season, 121 days since the regular season was cancelled, and 120 days since the playoffs were cancelled, but who’s counting? It’s been a long time since we’ve had hockey, and today we’ll bring to light some of the new faces that you might see this season around the NAHL.
Getting Back to the Ice: New Faces for the 2020-21 Season
Every off-season has changes, whether it’s a new team joining the league or a team revamping their logo, it’s a normal part of sports. The NAHL is not immune to this cycle and a number of teams made huge announcements during our break.
We’ll start by discussing the move of the Topeka Pilots to Kansas City, something that had been released before the pandemic closed the season. Kansas City will harken back to their NHL days and will be known as the Scouts with a shield logo while keeping the Pilots’ color scheme. The team will remain in the South Division, but we should continue to see our longtime rivals due to how close geographically we are.
Our next stop is out East, as the NAHL announced prior to the Supplemental Draft that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights would be moving to Danbury, CT to become the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. The name and logo are derived from the professional team that plays in the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL), a rabbit with a top hat adorned in black and orange. The Jr. Hat Tricks will play out of the Danbury Ice Arena, which is also home to the Danbury Colonials of the NA3HL.
Moving into the Central Division, the St. Cloud Blizzard, previously out of Brookings, changed their name to the Norsemen and adjusted their colors to purple, black, and silver. A release from the Norsemen shared that the nickname is meant to honor the heritage of Central Minnesota while giving the players something to embrace. The team will remain in the Central Division.
We revisit the South Division by updating you on the current state of the team in Wichita Falls. After being announced as an expansion franchise in October of 2019, the team held a contest to determine the nickname and decided on the Warriors. Their logo has a warrior helmet in front of an outline of the state of Texas with a black and orange color scheme. Wichita Falls has had two prior NAHL teams in the Rustlers (2002-04) and the Wildcats (2004-17).
Our final team update will not impact the 2020-21 season. On June 16th the NAHL announced that the El Paso Rhinos had been accepted into the league with intentions to join for the 2021-22 season. The Rhinos franchise had previously played in the WSHL and this season will field a team in the NA3HL.
Next week will be a big step in the right direction for the NAHL. On Tuesday, the 2020 NAHL Draft will commence at 1 pm. It’s a good sign for the hockey community, a signal that a return to play is just around the corner. Follow our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages to stay up to date on each pick, and make sure to check back next Friday for our next part in Getting Back to the Ice.