Team Maryland affiliate acquires NAHL and EHL Junior Hockey Franchises
Odenton, MD – A Team Maryland affiliate has acquired the rights to franchises in the North American Hockey League (“NAHL”) and the Eastern Hockey League (“EHL”) to begin play in the upcoming 2018-19 season at the Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, MD.
“This is a very exciting step for Team Maryland. We are committed to building a premier program and creating a pyramid for our players to advance to college hockey,” said Executive Director, Mike Weiss. “We are developing many talented youth hockey players, but this area lacked quality Junior Hockey options for local players requiring them to leave the area. Not anymore. The NAHL’s reputation for Division I placement and the professional ranks speaks for itself, and no league does a better job placing athletes in Division III than the EHL.”
NAHL player advancement was on display at last weekend’s NCAA Division I Frozen Four Tournament. Of the four teams competing (University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, Notre Dame, and University of Minnesota-Duluth), 24 of the approximately 100 athletes competing in the tournament played in the NAHL prior to college. Three players in the tournament also played for EHL teams before college.
Team Maryland will recruit nationwide for both teams, but priority and preference will be given to Team Maryland players. To facilitate the affiliation, Team Maryland’s U-18 will move to Piney Orchard for the 2019-20 season and will share a 7,000 sq. ft. complex with dedicated locker rooms for midgets and junior teams, a hockey-specific training gym, coaches’ room, film room and more. NAHL and EHL coaches and players will be heavily involved with the skill development of Team Maryland’s youth teams. In addition, some of the Team Maryland mini-camps will be held at Piney Orchard for all levels so that all Team Maryland players can take advantage of the amenities of the facility and gain exposure to the Junior coaches.
The NAHL is the only USA Hockey Tier II Junior Hockey League. NAHL hockey is a tuition-free experience where players ages 16-20 are provided with equipment, coaching, ice time and travel at no cost. The NAHL is a heavily scouted league that has placed 200+ players into NCAA hockey this season, the majority earning D-I scholarships. There are 60 NCAA D-I hockey programs in the country (an average of 500 roster spots open in a given year), of which approximately 90% of roster spots are filled by junior players from the NAHL and USHL.
The path to college hockey in the Mid-Atlantic now runs through Team Maryland.
“I spent multiple seasons coaching in the NAHL before joining Team Maryland,” said Team Maryland Hockey Director, Chris Ceransky. “There is no way to explain in one quote, how great of a league it is. We are talking about an experience where the athlete’s entire life revolves around growing as a player and person, while getting constant exposure to college and pro scouts. I remember my first experience in the NAHL still to this day. Even as a grown man I remember being star struck. I stepped onto the ice in an 8,000 seat arena surrounded by some of the best talent in the country and quickly realized that it was about as close as young men could get to playing pro hockey at their age. It is a true top to bottom elite experience from billeting, to community service, to fans, to daily training, to overnight travel with teams, to college visits, and so on. During my last three years in the NAHL, I coached over 60 players that received NCAA commitments. Where else in this area can you get that?”
The EHL is a USA Hockey Tier-III Junior Hockey League with a focus on placement into NCAA Division III programs and advancement to the NAHL. Similar to the NAHL, players skate and train on a daily basis with the goal of earning a college hockey scholarship. The EHL is the premier feeder-league for NCAA DIII Hockey. In the 2017-18 season, the EHL placed 122 kids into NCAA Hockey (5 D-I, 117 D-II/III),an average of 8 players per team placed at NCAA D-III schools. Last season, one out of every five players in NCAA DIII hockey was recruited through the EHL.
Team Maryland and Black Bear Sports Group (“BBSG”) have partnered together to acquire the junior hockey franchises. Ryan Scott, Vice President at BBSG and a former NCAA hockey player, will serve as an Alternate Governor of the NAHL franchise and be heavily involved in player personnel and business operations.
“Having climbed through the American junior hockey system as player, I know the quality of talent that an NAHL team commands,” said Scott. “The NAHL team will have the privilege of drawing from local talent in the Capital Region at Team Maryland along with some of the top 16-20 year-olds in the country that are seeking college scholarships. The league is heavily scouted by college and NHL teams and we’re excited to bring this elite level of junior hockey to the area.”
The addition of these two teams to the Team Maryland family will be invaluable to the quality of hockey both within the organization and to Maryland as a whole. Gone are the days where young athletes need to leave the area to spend countless amounts of time and money traveling north, only dedicate two days a week to elite hockey, and move to a new program every year in search of ‘Super Teams’ when they best route to college hockey and pro exposure is now right here in Maryland. If players want the best chance to play college hockey and beyond, they will play for Team Maryland.
NAHL and EHL tryout camps and dates will begin in May 2018. Dates and locations will be announced shortly.