The Glacier Nationals of the North American 3 Hockey League officially announced their intention to move to Havre, Montana on Monday. Club General Manager Butch Kowalka made the announcement of the three year contract signed April 2 with the Havre Youth Hockey Association. The contract, with options for renewal, should be the beginning of a long and positive relationship with the community of Havre and surrounding areas.
With new membership in the NA3HL, the Nationals have retooled more than just their head coach. In what will be considered a major improvement in the educational opportunities for the Junior players, the move next to Montana State University-Northern is critical.
“As we move forward in the improved hockey development and exposure model of the NA3HL, we also need to upgrade our educational diversity,” stated GM Kowalka. “We are looking to attract a much more focused and dedicated student athlete in the NA3HL. A player who is focused on a direct line of exposure to the NAHL and being the best player he can be, but also planning for his future career and making real strides to achieve those goals. That is what we can now offer in Havre, MT with MSU-Northern.”
Getting players prepared for the NAHL and into college is the main focus of the whole Glacier Nationals organization, primarily head coach Kyle Bailey.
“I am very excited about our move to Havre. Returning and incoming players will have a great opportunity to start a winning tradition here. Our goal as an organization is not only about winning hockey games but also to develop our players into better all-round hockey players so they are ready for the next level whether that be in the NAHL, USHL or college,” Bailey said.
The NA3HL will provide plenty of opportunity to showcase that player development with two showcase tournaments as well as the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship before the USA Hockey National Championships.
With this level of National exposure the NA3HL is unmatched in development and exposure. The NA3HL benefits are also a very positive step forward for the local hockey community.
With a thriving youth program in Havre, the Nationals will continue their efforts to give back to the local players and community. As the (AWHL) league Community Service Award winner in 2012-13 and 2013-14 as well as the Scholastic Award winner in 2012-13, the Nationals are serious and deliver on their promise to create great men as well as hockey players.
“Continuing to be acknowledged by the league as well as receiving awards from both Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters this past season, proves we walk the walk with our players. We are committed to good works in our community,” declared Kowalka.
These benefits are also evident to the Havre Youth Hockey Association.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to continue the growth of our youth and adult programs, using the junior players and coaches to increase the excitement of our already expanding association," said Brett Patrick, HYHA Board Member. "The support and anticipation from Havre and the surrounding areas is already through the roof, as many of us get asked about the Nationals daily."
The Nationals will also play in a bigger facility as the Havre Ice Dome has three times the seating capacity of their previous rink and should easily be able to handle well over 1,000 fans per game.
“Having a facility with heat and a growing vibrant youth hockey association cannot be overstated," said Kowalka.
The HYHA’s commitment to the American Developmental Model of USA Hockey is a very positive upgrade and we hope to help them in any way we can,” declared Kowalka.
Moving east to Havre puts the Nationals in a much closer proximity to the rest of the Frontier Division.
Cutting the average road trip time in half, the Nationals players will spend much less time on the bus. More than four days per season to be specific.
“Players don’t develop on the bus, they need ice time. We can offer ten hours of on ice instruction per week as the standard with plenty of extra time for youth volunteering,” said Bailey.
Any players or parents who are interested in getting more information on the Glacier Nationals and the NA3HL should visit our website at glaciernationals.com.