This is the 2015-16 North American Hockey League season. This is the league's 32st season under this name and 41st dating back to its founding in 1975 as the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League when the Michigan Junior Hockey League and the Wolverine Junior Hockey League merged. Each of the 22 teams in the league's four divisions - the Central, East, Midwest and South- will play 60 regular season games. The 13th annual NAHL Showcase Tournament will be held from September 23-26, 2015 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.
On October 22, 2015 a press conference was held in Shreveport, Louisiana to announce the addition of the Shreveport Mudbugs. The previous Mudbugs teams was founded in 1997 and played in the Central Hockey League until folding in 2011. The Hirsch Colisuem is undergoing a $1.5 million upgrade and will once again have an ice surface. The new team will commence play with the start of the 2016-17 season.
In April of 2016 the league announced the addition of the Northeast Generals who will be based out of the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Massachusetts, a suburb between Boston and Providence. As part of the team's introdution it was stated that the team was planning on playing some games at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University and at Matthews Arena on the campus of Northeastern University. The organization was established for the 2015-16 playing in the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League based out of Canton, Massachusetts. This team will continue for the 2016-17 in the North American 3 Hockey League, which absorbed the NA3EHL. No word on if that team will stay in Canton or relocate to the facility in Attleboro.
The league adopted the 3-on-3 overtime format with a 3 round shoot out (down from 4-on-4 and a 5 round shootout). These match the changes made by the NHL for the 2015-16 season. The changes were made due to 20% (144 of 720) of the games in 2014-15 going to overtime and 64.5% (93 of 144) of the overtime games going to a shootout.
- The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights were added to the league after purchasing the dormant Dawson Creek Rage franchise, moving up from the Central Division of the Tier III Eastern Hockey League (formerly the Atlantic Junior Hockey League until 2013).
- The Middletown, New Jersey based New Jersey Junior Titans were added to the league after aquiring the franchise rights to the Soo Eagles, who transferred back to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, which they left in 2012 to join the NAHL; citing a reduction in expenses in travel due to most of the nearby teams relocating or folding.
- Lewiston, Maine was awarded an expansion team for the 2015-16 season; but the owner citing a lack of prep time; withdrew with the intend of re-applying for 2016-17
- The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees relocated to Aston, Pennsylvania becoming the Aston Rebels; after an attempt to keep the team in Hidalgo, Texas was unsucessful.
- After being taken over by the league during the 2014-15 season, the Keystone Ice Miners folded.
- The Wenatchee Wild left the league to join the British Columbia Hockey League after receiving approval of USA Hockey and Hockey Canada; citing a reduction in expenses due to travel.
- The Michigan Warriors folded after the management of the then Perani Arena and Event Center informed them that there lease would not be renewed amid speculation and the eventual relocation of the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League to the arena after their building was purchased by USA Hockey and subsequently relocated the USA Hockey National Team Development Program to that arena. The team had made efforts to relocate to Brooklyn, New York; but the sale to the Brooklyn Aviators was held up and was not completed.
The 2015-16 season has 22 teams playing in 4 divisions:
|Fairbanks Ice Dogs||60||49||8||-||3||-||251||116||1081||101|
|Coulee Region Chill||60||33||26||-||1||-||177||165||883||67|
|Springfield Jr. Blues||60||29||25||-||6||-||155||164||770||64|
|Kenai River Brown Bears||60||4||51||-||5||-||109||292||1351||13|
|New Jersey Junior Titans||60||34||22||-||4||-||187||156||1308||72|
|Wichita Falls Wildcats||60||44||11||-||5||-||224||141||1093||93|
|Lone Star Brahmas||60||39||12||-||9||-||186||136||1217||87|
|Corpus Christi IceRays||60||25||29||-||6||-||139||170||1145||56|
Robertson Cup PlayoffsEdit
The top four teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. The first seed plays the fourth seed and the second seed plays the third seed in the best-of-five division semifinals. The division semifinal winners meet in a best-of-five series to determine the division champion. The four divisonal champions will meet May 12-15, 2016 at the Braemar Arena in Edina, Minnesota to determine the Robertson Cup Championship. The teams will be seeded by regular season record with the first seed playing the fourth and second playing third in a best-of-three semifinal series held May 12th-14th. The semifinal winners will meet in the championship game on May 15th. As this is the only Tier-II junior hockey league in the United States there is no further playoff beyond the league championship.
East Division SemifinalsEdit
- Aston Rebels defeated Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights 3 games to none (3-2, 3-2, 6-1)
- Johnstown Tomahawks defeated New Jersey Junior Titans 3 games to none (5-3, 2-0, 2-1 (ot))
South Division SemifinalsEdit
- Wichita Falls Wildcats defeated Odessa Jackalopes 3 games to none (6-3, 6-0, 6-3)
- Topeka RoadRunners defeated Lone Star Brahmas 3 games to 2 (1-3, 2-1 (ot), 5-2, 5-4 (ot))
Central Division SemifinalsEdit
- Bismarck Bobcats defeated Brookings Blizzard 3 games to 1 (5-2, 5-3, 1-2, 3-1)
- Austin Bruins defeated Minot Minotauros 3 games to 1 (1-3, 4-1, 6-3, 3-2)
Midwest Division SemifinalsEdit
- Fairbanks Ice Dogs defeated Coulee Region Chill 3 games to 1 (1-6, 6-1, 3-0, 4-1)
- Minnesota Wilderness defeated Janesville Jets 3 games to 1 (2-5, 2-1, 2-1, 3-2 (ot))
East Division FinalEdit
South Division FinalEdit
Central Division FinalEdit
Midwest Division FinalEdit
- Fairbanks Ice Dogs defeated Minnesota Wilderness 3 games to 2 (2-1 (ot), 3-2 (ot), 1-2 (2ot), 2-3, 5-2)
Robertson Cup SemifinalsEdit
- Fairbanks Ice Dogs defeated Aston Rebels 2 games to none (2-1, 3-0)
- Wichita Falls Wildcats defeated Bismarck Bobcats 2 games to none (3-2, 5-2)