Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 18, 2023 - National Arena League (NAL)
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League recently announced plans to add a 2024 expansion team in Pecos (TX) where it will be called the Pecos Bills. The new team will be added to the Mountain Division. The league attempted to add a team called the Pecos Bills for the 2013 season but plans for improvements to the team's proposed home field never worked out.
Pacific Coast League: The Reno (NV) Aces of the Triple-A PCL announced plans to play select games during the 2024 season as the Reno Silver Sox to honor the city's previous minor league teams that played under the Reno Silver Sox name on and off from 1947 through 1992.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA recently announced teams called the San Jose Panthers, Nashville Aces and Westchester (NY) Stars have joined for the upcoming 2023-24 season. The San Jose Panthers last played in the ABA's 2021-22 season. The ABA has had previous teams in both the Nashville and Westchester markets.
National Basketball League of Canada: With the four Ontario-based teams (London Lightning, Windsor Express, Sudbury Five, and Kitchener-Waterloo Titans) that comprised the 2023 NBL-Canada moving to the first season of the professional Basketball Super League (BSL) this December, the NBL-Canada will cease to exist. The NBL-Canada started play in the 2011-12 season and at one point had ten teams aligned in Central and Atlantic divisions. In addition to Ontario, the league had various teams based in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island during its history. The new BSL previously announced the Newfoundland Rogues (St. John's) and Quebec Pioneers as members and it plans to add some nearby U.S. markets.
American Indoor Football: The AIF announced a new team based in Albany (GA) will be the eighth team for the league's rebirth in 2024. An Albany-based team called the Georgia Firebirds played the 2016 season in the previous version of the AIF and moved to the National Arena League where the Firebirds played only the 2017 season before folding.
National Arena League: The NAL announced the Topeka Tropics team, which was a member of the Championship Indoor Football (CIF) for the past two seasons (2022-23), has joined the NAL for the 2024 season. Two other 2023 CIF teams-the Omaha Beef and Sioux City (IA) Bandits-also left the CIF after the 2023 season to join the NAL for the 2024 season.
North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL recently started its 2023-24 season and again has 34 teams aligned in three six-team Central, East, and West divisions and two eight-team South and Frontier divisions. The Bay State Bobcats did not return but the league added the New Hampshire Mountain Kings (Hooksett) to the East Division. The New Ulm (MN) Steel was sold and moved to become the Wisconsin Woodsmen (Tomah). The Butte (MT) Cobras were renamed the Butte Irish and the Milwaukee Power was renamed the West Bend Power ahead of the 2023-24 season.
United States Premier Hockey League-Premier Conference: The Tier-III junior-level USPHL Premier Conference recently started its 2023-24 season with 61 teams aligned in 9 divisions. The conference ended the 2022-23 season with 69 teams but lost 11 teams and added 3 new teams for 2023-24. The Idaho Falls Spud Kings, Ogden Mustangs, Provo Predators, Pueblo Bulls, Utah Outliers, and Rock Springs (UT) Grizzlies (renamed from the Prospectors) left to move up to the USPHL's Tier-II National Collegiate Development Conference. The Boston Advantage, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Twin City Thunder (Auburn, ME), Bridgewater Bandits and Northern Colorado Eagles (Greeley) also did not return. The three new teams include the Casper Roughnecks, Bold City Battalion (Jacksonville), and the Collège Universel Gatineau (Quebec) road team. Also, the Elmira Jr. Enforcers changed their name to the Elmira Impact.
United States Premier Hockey League-Elite Conference: The Tier-III junior-level USPHL Elite Conference recently started its 2023-24 season with 28 full-schedule teams in 5 divisions. Of the 23 teams from last season, the conference lost 3 teams but added 8 teams for 2023-24. The New York Aviators, Nashville Spartans, and Bridgewater Bandits did not return. Six of the new teams came from USPHL Premier Conference teams called the Fort Wayne Spacemen, Motor City Gamblers, Chicago Cougars, Chicago Crush, Battle Creek Kernels, and Decatur (IL) Blaze that added teams in a new six-team Elite Conference Midwest Division. The two other new teams are the Bold City Battalions (Jacksonville) and Connecticut Junior Rangers. The Elite Conference will also feature an additional nine-team division of teams from the North American Prep Hockey League (NAPHL). These teams from Quebec and Ontario will include the Ottawa Valley Wolves, College Universel, College St-Jean-Vianney, Le Sommet Faucons, VC Academy, Crystal Beach, SHA Academy Sabres, Somang Prep, and Simcoe County Academy. The NAPHL teams will play anywhere from 3 to 12 games against full-schedule Elite Conference teams with games counting in the standings but these teams will not be eligible for the playoffs.
Eastern Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level EHL and its developmental EHL Premier (EHLP) started their 2023-24 seasons this week. The EHL has grown from 19 to 23 teams aligned in four divisions. The EHL added the Boston-based Bridgewater Bandits from the United States Premier Hockey League along with the Providence Hockey Club, Boston Junior Terriers, and the Pennsylvania Huntsmen, which had a 2022-23 team in the EHLP. Also, the EHL's Protec Junior Ducks team was purchased and renamed the New Jersey Bears (Flemington) for 2023-24. The new EHL's Bridgewater Bandits also added an EHLP team, so that league has grown from 15 to 16 teams aligned in three divisions for 2023-24.
Alberta Junior Hockey League: The Junior-A AJHL, which is one of nine leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, started its 2023-24 season this week with the same 16 teams as last season. Teams are now aligned in a single-table format rather than the previous two-division alignment.
Central Canada Hockey League: The Ontario-based Junior-A CCHL, which is one of nine leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, started its 2023-24 season this week with the same 12 teams as last season and again aligned in six-team Robinson and Yzerman divisions.
Quebec Junior Hockey League: The Junior-A QJHL, which is one of the nine leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, started its 2023-24 season this week with the same 13 teams as last season and again aligned in a single-table format.
Maritime Hockey League: The Junior-A MHL, which is one of nine leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, started its 2023-24 season this week and has 12 teams aligned in six-team EastLink North and EastLink South divisions. One change from last season was the move of the South Shore Lumberjacks (Bridgewater, Nova Scotia) to become the West Kent Steamers (Bouctouche, New Brunswick).
Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League: The Junior-A NOJHL, which is one of nine leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, recently started its 2022-23 season with 12 teams aligned in six-team East and West divisions. The only off-season change was the relocation of the Cochrane Crunch to become the Iroquois Falls Storm for the 2023-24 season.
Ontario Junior Hockey League: The Junior-A OJHL, which is one of the nine leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey league, recently started its 2023-24 season with 24 teams aligned in 12-team East and West conferences. The league had 21 teams last season but the Buffalo Jr. Sabres returned after sitting out the past 3 seasons, while the Leamington Flyers and Niagara Falls Canucks from the Junior-B Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League were added as 2023-24 OJHL expansion teams.
USL W-League (United Soccer League): The women's pre-professional W-League, which completed its 2023 season with 65 teams, announced the Brevard SC Riptide (Melbourne, FL) has joined the league as a 2024 expansion team. The Brevard SC also featured a men's team in the 2023 pre-professional USL League Two.
National Indoor Soccer League: The NISL's new Albany (GA) expansion team announced it will be called the Albany Aces when it starts play in the 2023-24 season. The Aces won out over the Soul as the other possible nickname choice.
Major League Indoor Soccer: The men's MLIS, which played its second season in 2022-23 with 12 teams, announced the Houston Bolt and Springfield (MO) Demize have withdrawn from the league and will join a new professional division of the Premier Arena Soccer League for the 2023-24 season.
Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL's developmental league known as the MASL 2 announced the United Elite Krajisnik FC, based in Utica (NY), has been added as the 19th franchise for the upcoming 2023-24 season. The United Elite will serve as the developmental team for the Utica City FC of the top-tier MASL.
Major League Pickleball: The co-ed professional MLP has expanded into Australia as part of a partnership with a developing professional Australian league called the Pacific Pickleball League (PPL), which has been rebranded as Major League Pickleball Australia and will play under the MLP format. The PPL was organized earlier this year with four co-ed teams called the Sydney Smash, Melbourne Mavericks, Brisbane Breakers, and Gold Coast Glory (Queensland) and set to start league play with three 2023 events: Brisbane (September 8-10), Sydney (October 20-22), and Melbourne (November 3-5). The first scheduled PPL event held in Brisbane last weekend was played under the Major League Pickleball Australia banner.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking the changes in the sports world's leagues, teams, and nicknames since April 2007.
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National Arena League Stories from September 18, 2023
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.