Oregon Ice Arena will once again be home to a Tier 3 junior hockey team.
The Oregon Tradesmen will begin play in the 2020-21 season, the North American 3 Hockey League announced Wednesday, April 1.
“We are excited about the addition of the Oregon Tradesmen to the NA3HL,” NA3HL Commissioner Blake MacNicol said in a news release obtained by the Observer. “They are backed by a tremendous and solid ownership group led by Janesville Jets owner Bill McCoshen. We are confident this team will be a success because of the strong focus on the ladder of development that NA3HL teams share with the NAHL. The team fits perfectly into the NA3HL’s Central Division footprint and I’m sure fans will enjoy the level of play on the ice and the rivalries that will be formed within the landscape.”
The Tradesmen are owned by Madison Hockey Partners LLC, which is made up of McCoshen, Eric Petersen, Ben Cowan and Larry Clemens. The group is reviving a dormant NA3HL team, the Evansville (IN) Junior Thunderbolts, that folded after the 2018-19 season.
Oregon Ice Arena previously housed the league’s Wisconsin Whalers, who moved to Wyoming in 2019.
Don Babineau will serve as the Tradesmen’s head coach. He was the coach and general manager of the Coulee Region Chill last season and previously coached the Euless (TX) Stars.
Clemens, who is the varsity boys hockey coach at Oregon High School, will be the goalie coach. He’s held the same position with Janesville since the team’s inception in 2009.
Cowan will be the team’s vice president.
The NA3HL, one of two USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III junior leagues, is planning to play its 11th season in 2020-21. More than 130 NA3HL players committed to continue their hockey careers at the collegiate level in 2019.
“The Oregon Tradesmen will help us build out our integrated player development and advancement model from youth all the way to the NAHL,” McCoshen said. “This unique model will provide 18 and 19-year-old players an opportunity to develop and advance to the NAHL while developing 20-year-old players for NCAA Division III or ACHA Division 1 opportunities. The relationship with and proximity to the Janesville Jets will help us attract quality players immediately.”
The Tradesmen will be the fourth Wisconsin-based team in the league’s Central Division, joining Coulee Region (La Crosse), the Milwaukee Power and Wausau RiverWolves. Oregon will also face the Peoria (IL) Mustangs, Rochester (MN) Grizzlies and St. Louis (MO) Jr. Blues in divisional play.
Tradesmen players will also have opportunities to learn skilled trades in partnership with local unions as part of their off-ice development program.