ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

NAHL adds New York franchise for 2023-24 season

Rochester be the eighth member of the NAHL's East Division and the 30th team in the league.

Rochester Jr. Americans logo.jpg
Rochester Jr. Americans

FAIRPORT, N.Y. — Now there will be an even 30. The North American Hockey League on Thursday, Dec. 8, announced that a partnership forming a new team in New York has been approved to join the Tier II junior league. The Rochester Jr. Americans will begin play in the 2023-24 season in the suburb of Fairport.

Rochester be the eighth member of the NAHL's East Division and the 30th team in the league. With the addition of the New York-based team, the NAHL will have franchises in 18 states.

"We are thrilled that the growth of the North American Hockey League is continuing in the East with our eighth team,” said NAHL commissioner and president Mark Frankenfeld in a news release. “The East Division has grown, thrived, and succeeded because there are a lot of players in the region that want to play the quality hockey the NAHL represents in front of all the NCAA programs in the East."

Hockey ROCS, LCC, an entity owned and operated by Chris O'Donnell, an investment management company owner, and Colleen Wegman, a grocery retailer executive, will lead the operation. O'Donnell is also part-owner of the Rochester Ice Center in Fairport, the home rink of the Jr. Americans.

Francois Methot has been named the general manager and head coach of the Jr. Americans. The 44-year-old Methot is a former NHL draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres who recently serves as the Rochester Ice Center Academy director and lead instructor. Brian Gionta, who spent 16 seasons playing in the NHL, is his assistant coach.

ADVERTISEMENT

The team also has rounded out the rest of its on-ice and training staff, including Gionta's brother Steven, another former NHL'er who will be one of its player development consultants.

“After exploring many junior hockey opportunities, we are thrilled with our decision to partner with the NAHL in establishing this new team in Rochester, N.Y," O'Donnell said in the release. "Our personal focus on player development and advancement aligns perfectly with the NAHL’s mission. In fact, the NAHL had 350-plus player commitments during the 2021-22 season. The NAHL has long-term, stable ownership groups that are aligned around this purpose-driven mission.

"We are very fortunate to have assembled an extraordinary team of hockey professionals who share the same mission and will lead operations. Collectively, they have had tremendous success at all levels of hockey as players and successfully transitioned those experiences in becoming outstanding coaching and player development professionals."

MORE NAHL COVERAGE:
Team East and Team South ride five-goal efforts to wins in the final day in Pittsburgh
UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex plays host to two games, 88 players and numerous coaches and scouts at NAHL Top Prospects Tournament
Players from across the country have started to sign tenders to play in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season as the window opened to sign the agreements on Nov. 1.
Ulvebne, who recently committed to the Beavers, could become the first player from Norway on the Bemidji State men's hockey roster in its Division I era.
Stars of the Week and streaks headline busy week in the NAHL
Minnesota Duluth commit Adam Gajan highlights list of 88 players slated to play in annual NAHL Top Prospects Tournament
Jacob Conrad, a native of Wisconsin, leads all defenseman on his team in scoring. He recently announced his commitment to play Division I at LSSU.
Steve Haddon, a Sarnia, Ontario native, will lead the Grit behind the bench.

Currently, there is a $2 million investment going into upgrades for the Ice Center, including new locker rooms for the NAHL team, video, training and recovery improvements, coaches' office and more. Opened in 1989, the Ice Center operates two NHL-sized rinks. Robert Hensel, the rink's general manager, said its featured ice sheet has approximately 750 seats with additional viewing from the bar and standing-room options around a majority of the rink.

"An NAHL team in Rochester continues to expand our mission of providing the best junior hockey that is available in the United States and more importantly, players will not have to move far from home to play in the NAHL," Frankenfeld said. "In addition, the combination of the facility, the market, the history, and the wonderful ownership group is second to none. We expect the Rochester Jr. Americans to be a successful and top-notch organization from Day 1.”

The East Division currently has seven teams, including Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (Danbury, Connecticut), Johnstown Tomahawks (Johnstown, Pennsylvania), Maine Nordiques (Lewiston), Maryland Black Bears (Odenton), New Jersey Titans (Middletown), Northeast Generals (Attleboro, Massachusetts), and Philadelphia Rebels (Sewell).

Last season, the Titans were the first team from the East Division to win the league's championship, the Robertson Cup.

Tryout information for all teams will be announced in the spring of 2023.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rob Beer is the digital content manager for Forum Communications. A journalist with Forum Communications since 1991, he is the editor of The Rink Live and assists with Northland Outdoors and other content produced by the company.
What to read next
Jack Malinski had a handful of Division I suitors. In the end, the Lakeville native and Austin Bruins captain chose the school that had pursued him for two years.
The Rosemount, Minn., native has played three seasons with the St. Cloud Norsemen of the NAHL and just recently committed to play Division I at Alaska-Fairbanks.
David Deputy is in his first season in the NAHL and currently leads the Philadelphia Rebels with 23 points. His talent started to turn heads and he recently committed to play Division I for RIT.