NAHL approves new team based in Colorado, will begin play next season

The team will be known as the Colorado Grit and compete in the South Division starting in the 2023-24 season.

colorado grit.jpg

GREELEY, Colo. -- The U.S. began to expand west of the Mississippi River with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. In 2023, the NAHL continues its own continental westward trek as it announced Friday, Jan. 6 the membership approval of a new team based in Greeley.

The team will be known as the Colorado Grit, the 31st team in the league and the westernmost franchise along with the New Mexico Ice Wolves in the Lower 48. The Greeley franchise will be the 19th state in which the NAHL will have an operation.

Last month, the NAHL announced the addition of the Rochester Jr. Americans , which will join the East Division. That team will also begin play for the 2023-24 campaign.

The Colorado Grit will be owned and operated by Bob Bowden, Casey Bradshaw and David Clarkson, who own Colorado Sports Partners, LLC. The team will play out of the Greeley Ice Haus , a 1,200-seat arena about 20 miles west of Loveland. The ACHA Division II University of Northern Colorado Bears also call the Ice Haus home.

The Grit will begin play in the 2023-24 season in the NAHL's soon-to-be nine-team South Division, which includes Texas-based Amarillo Wranglers, Corpus Christi IceRays, El Paso Rhinos, Lone Star Brahmas and the Odessa Jackalops. The New Mexico Ice Wolves, Shreveport (La.) Mudbugs and Oklahoma Warriors also make up that division.


"We are excited to grow the NAHL towards the west with likeminded owners interested in putting the players and the community first. The Colorado Grit will be the NAHL’s first-ever team based in the state of Colorado and will create natural rivalries with those teams in the western part of the South Division,” said NAHL commissioner and president Mark Frankenfeld. “In addition, the team is in close proximity to three, high-level NCAA Division I hockey programs, which will bring more eyes on every player that plays in the South Division.”

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.
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.
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.

Five of the last 10 Robertson Cup champions have come from the South Division.

The ownership group has nine years of junior hockey experience, more than 20 years of high-level coaching, recruiting and player development experience at the junior, professional and AAA/Tier I levels, the NAHL stated. Clarkson logged 12 years in the NHL, playing for New Jersey, Toronto and Columbus before retiring after the 2015-16 season.

“As a group we are excited for the opportunity to join and be accepted into the NAHL," Bradshaw said. "With the great reputation of the NAHL coupled with this great Colorado opportunity, there is no doubt a successful organization can be built. This group is committed to long long-term success and will establish a program both the Colorado hockey community and the NAHL will be proud of."

The league has two teams in Alaska with concentrations of teams in the Upper Midwest, the Southwest and the Northeast.

Note: This story has been updated to correct the number of teams in the NAHL.

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