What do Onalaska, Bismarck, Springfield, Topeka and Frisco have in common? They all are home to a North American Hockey League (NAHL) team. Comprised of young players age 16-20, this Tier 2 junior hockey league provides an avenue for players to show their skills in the hopes of finding spots on a NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) team. The teams play a rigorous 58 game season from September to March. Some players are still in high school; others take college classes or work part time jobs. The players have one thing in common – a dream to eventually play in the National Hockey League (NHL).
Frisco, Texas, my hometown, has a NAHL team, the Texas Tornado. The hockey is not as polished as our local Dallas Stars NHL team. But the players, to a man, have their heart and soul in the game. This is their chance to be scouted for that college scholarship. Some may even make the leap directly to the NHL. The hockey games are spirited and the fans rabid. The Texas Tornado play in the Dr. Pepper StarCenter, a modern ice rink with all the amenities of a NHL ice arena, just on a smaller scale. Fans get pumped up with a live rock band and spirited contests during period intermissions. Ike, a polar bear mascot, whips up fans’ enthusiasm during the games and promotes the Texas Tornado with public appearances throughout the season. Fan seating is close to the ice and action – you will not need your binoculars to watch these games.
The NAHL games make for affordable, family-friendly entertainment. Individual ticket prices for Texas Tornado games range from $8 to $17. That’s right, for the price of a movie ticket, you can enjoy an entire evening of sport and entertainment. Put another way, the most expensive Texas Tornado ticket is equivalent in cost to the cheapest NHL Dallas Star seats (you know, the ones in the nose bleed section). Our family takes full advantage of having a NAHL team in town. We’ve attended scout events, held birthday parties and entertained out-of-town guests at Texas Tornado games.
Don’t miss the next NAHL power play and check out your local team. Teams are located throughout the Midwest, Texas and West Coast. The NAHL also has a team in British Columbia. For a complete list of teams visit the NAHL website.