The McKinney Warriors of the North American Tier III Hockey League (NA3HL) inaugural season will be delayed because of its inability to sign the required amount of players.
Warrior General Manager Reggie Hall said the start of the season is to be delayed “at least a week” as the team continues to sign and acquire players.Hall said the league requires teams to have at least 13 skaters and a goalie to take the ice, and that the Warriors are still trying to get there.
The Warriors were scheduled to starts its season Friday, Oct. 11, when they were scheduled to travel to take on Sugar Land. McKinney’s home opener was scheduled for the following night at the Dr. Pepper Star Center at Craig Ranch against Sugar Land.
Hall said the issue facing the Warriors, and the rest of junior hockey, is a “nationwide problem” at the tier III level, as there is a “dramatic” shortage of players coming into the league. The issue, Hall said, can be attributed to the growth of junior hockey in Canada and the United States, and the amount of teams that have exploded onto the scene, thinning the talent pool for teams to choose from.
Players are holding out for the chance to sign with a tier II team, hoping to avoid playing at the tier III level, even if it may be the correct decision from a development standpoint, Hall said. Players must pay to play at the tier III level, he said.
While continuing to acquire players, Hall said the players who are on the roster will be practicing with other teams to keep them in shape and on the ice playing hockey.
McKinney, along with the Dallas Jr. Stars, the Sugar Land Imperials and the Topeka RoadRunners, was added to the NA3HL’s new South Division for the 2013 season in July.