NAHL Danbury Hat Tricks Announce u14/u15/u16/u18 Academy Program, Starts in 2024-25

by Danbury Hat Tricks

DANBURY — The Danbury Hat Tricks are excited to announce the launch of the Hat Tricks Academy Program, which will consist of teams at the u14/u15/u16/u18 levels. Teams will begin play in the 2024-2025 hockey season. The Danbury Hat Tricks Academy will form a direct path to the Hat Tricks' NAHL team at the Tier I level. Participating in the AYHL and NAPHL Tier 1 League, as well as playing a top showcase and tournament schedule, the objective of the new model is to provide two player options. First is an academy option that includes online school and daily on-ice skills sessions to go along with weekly team practices. Second is the standard player option which includes attending regular school and weekly evening practices. It is important to note that incoming players can choose either option for the upcoming season.

The academy option will provide local and out of town players:

1) Professional and dedicated coaching staff

2) Increased access to daily ice time, off-ice facilities, and online school

3) Competitive teams at the highest levels

4) Increased focus on exposure to junior hockey and NCAA schools

5) Out of town players will receive local billeting

The local player option who attends regular school will provide players:

1) Professional and dedicated coaching staff

2) Competitive teams at the highest levels

3) Increased focus on exposure to junior hockey and NCAA schools

“This is an exciting moment for our program and our community,” said Director of Hockey Operations Billy McCreary. "Providing players an opportunity to pursue their athletic and academic goals has always been a focus for our organization. The addition of the Hat Tricks Academy will provide a strong development opportunity for aspiring NCAA athletes. The Danbury Hat Tricks are committed to growing the game in our local area and we are excited to continue our growth under the North American Hockey League, the NAPHL, and the AYHL which has grown into one of the more competitive youth leagues in the country.”

A few key highlights of the program include:

  • President of Hockey Operations Billy McCreary, who was also the former Hockey Director for the NJ Colonials (AYHL), is responsible for assisting multiple players reach the USA NTDP, USHL, NAHL, and NCAA levels. During the 2018-19 season, Billy McCreary’s teams were also crowned District and AYHL Champions at the Bantam Major, Bantam Minor, and Pee Wee Major levels. The '03 Bantam Major team also went on to compete at the Tier I National Tournament.
  • Full time Tier 1 Boys Director and NAHL Director of Player Personnel Bob Thornton has 20 years of experience and will also be the Head Coach of the u15 and u16 teams and oversee the new Academy Program. Bob has been responsible for the development of multiple Division I, USHL, NAHL, and Professional hockey players throughout his 20 years of leadership.
  • Full Time Time u18 Coach: TBA
  • Full Time u14 Coach: Matt Dutton
  • Full Time Assistant Coaches: TBA
  • Skills Coach: Matyas Kasek with Kasek Hockey
  • Goalie Coach: Matt Voity
  • Off Ice Training Coach: TBA
  • Weekly video sessions
  • Team dedicated locker rooms with individual player stalls
  • Competitive Tier 1 schedules
  • NAPHL tier 1 league play
  • AYHL league play
  • Top tournaments and showcases
  • Full time on line school teacher
  • Off season on ice availability
  • Which rink will teams play out of? Danbury Ice Arena

The NAHL affiliation will provide players a clear pathway through the u14/15/16/18 teams to the Danbury Hat Tricks NAHL team, and into NCAA Hockey. The NAHL is the second highest level junior hockey league in North America and a primary feeder to Division 1 college hockey.

“I’m thrilled for these teams and to offer an academy option for those who want the on-ice and off-ice component on a daily basis, which is the way the youth hockey market is trending," expressed Thornton. "Our vision is to build and make a platform for the top youth players that will allow us to promote them to our NAHL team and propel our Tier 1 teams to another level. These teams will all be selected through scouting and player inquiries and/or evaluations. Stay tuned for upcoming staff announcements and tryout dates.”


  1. Which rink will teams play out of? Danbury Ice Arena

Geographical locations of players will be kept in mind while structuring on ice practice times. The facility offers two full size sheets of ice/off ice gym/classroom/video room.

Please feel free to contact Bob Thornton for all player inquiries/pricing and staff information which will be announced in the coming weeks. | 516-816-2599