Danbury to add NAHL team, Welcome Jr. Hat Tricks

by Casey Bryant

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that the NAHL Board of Governors has approved the relocation of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights to Danbury, Connecticut for the 2020-21 season. The team will be named the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks and play out of the Danbury Arena, which is also home to the Danbury Colonials of the NA3HL and Danbury Hat Tricks of the FPHL.

"We are looking forward to having NAHL hockey right here in town, which brings the highest level of junior hockey to the area," said Danbury Arena managing partner Herm Sorcher. "The addition of this team aligns to our vision of turning the Danbury Arena into a premier hockey destination. We know our fans are going to love this team and the energy it brings."

The NAHL, with 26 teams, has been in operation since 1975 with notable alumni including Mike Modano, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Ben Bishop.

The Knights (now Jr. Hat Tricks) have been a member of the NAHL since the 2015-16 season. The Knights’ organization enjoyed its’ most successful season to date in 2018, reaching 30 wins in the regular season and earning 66 points in the standings to clinch a playoff berth for the third consecutive season. 

Danbury will be coached by head coach Billy McCreary, who himself is an NAHL graduate. He played junior hockey in the NAHL for the Texas Tornado and amassed 45 goals and 71 assists in 98 career games. He was named to the All-Rookie team and a First Team All-Star during the 2002-03 season. This past season, McCreary was the head coach and general manager of the Danbury Hat Tricks of the FHL and was named as the league’s Coach of the Year. 

“The arrival of the NAHL is an exciting moment for not only hockey in Danbury, but the entire state of Connecticut," said McCreary. "The North American Hockey League has been instrumental in developing players into NCAA student athletes and we are honored to continue that tradition. We are extremely excited to be able to build a culture that embodies the spirit of the NAHL, while focusing on developing our players into future NCAA and Professional athletes. 

"It’s our commitment to not only helping our players achieve their goals, but to also build a ‘family’ that competes for a Robertson Cup year in and year out. Danbury is now a premier destination for players with Division I and professional aspirations."

With the Jr. Hat Tricks, the Danbury Arena has now set itself as the only venue in North America to host minor professional, Tier II junior, and NA3 (Tier 3) hockey.

“Depending on how the schedule ultimately is put together, there will be a full slate of games throughout the year," added Sorcher. "There will be no shortage of high energy, fast-paced, hard-hitting hockey that this city and community absolutely loves. When a youngster walks into our building and sees our players in the orange & black, we have a great chance to capture their heart and mind and get them to say, 'that’s what I want to do.'”

Sorcher also expressed gratitude for his partners in this endeavor: Jim Diamond, Bill Diamond, Chris Buonanno, Colton Orr and Billy McCreary. 

"It’s continual teamwork and collaboration where our joint vision is to keep raising the bar and keep improving every day. Those guys all believed and made this happen.”

Further information on the roster & staff will be released in the coming weeks as the team develops the organization.