The Northern States Hockey League (NSHL) formed in the spring of 2012 and was the second league to be sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and its United Hockey Union program. Several existing programs from the defunct International Junior Hockey League (IJHL) Super Elite Division joined the new franchises to form a seven-team league. The original groups included the Cape Cod Islanders , Eastern Kodiaks , Lake George Fighting Spirits , New England Stars , Syracuse Stampede and Trenton Habs.

Northern States Hockey League (2012-2014)

In the 2013-14 season, the league added Maine Moose , the and the . In addition, two teams moved and changed names when the Lake George Fighting Spirit moved to Waterville, New Hampshire and became known as the American Hockey Institute Fighting Spirit , and the Trenton Habs were renamed the Jersey Shore Wildcats when they moved their operations to Wall Township, New Jersey . The league also lost the Eastern Kodiaks when the team moved operations to Jamestown, N.Y., shortly before winding down.

The NCHL continued to grow in the 2014-15 season when the league announced three new teams: . Two franchises also announced plans to relocate and change names. The Maine Moose franchise was sold and renamed the Maine Timberwolves with a move to Lewiston, Maine , and AHI Fighting Spirit was renamed the New Hampshire Fighting Spirit with a move to Laconia, New Hampshire . The league also divided the 12 teams into two divisions of six teams each. However, when the NSHL released its 2014-15 schedule in August, the CNY Stallions were not included in the schedule, reducing the Western Division to five teams and the league to eleven teams. On September 17, the Maine Timberwolves rolled up their cards before the season began, changing the balance of the league to five teams in the division.

North American 3 East Hockey League (2014-2016)

In October 2014, the NAHL left the United Hockey League after two seasons on promise U.S. Hockey was sanctioned by joining the Tier II Junior A North American Hockey League (NAHL) at the start of the 2014-15 season. Under the new organizational leadership of the NAHL, the league changed its name to the North American 3rd Eastern Hockey League. With the season already underway, the league will operate independently during the 2014-15 season and apply to join U.S. Hockey through the 2015-16 season. In May 2015, the NA3EHL received Tier III status from USA Hockey. After renaming the league, the Junior Mariners changed their name to the East Coast Minutemen, continuing to play out of Salem, New Hampshire. On December 16, 2014, it was announced that the Fighting Spirit would move back to Lewiston, Maine for the next season and be renamed the Fighting Spirit L/A (Lewiston/Auburn).

On November 18, 2014, the NAHL announced the addition of a junior expansion hockey team to the NA3EHL’s kickoff game for the 2015-16 season. On April 9, 2015, the NA3EHL announced the addition of the Northeast Generals to the expansion team, which will begin play next season from Canton, Massachusetts . On April 13, 2015, it was announced that the New York Aviators, the 2015 U.S. Premier Hockey League division champions, would move to the NA3EHL beginning with the 2015-16 season.

On March 4, 2016, it was officially announced that the NA3EHL would be added to another North American Hockey League Tier 3 league, the North American 3 Hockey League ( NA3HL), beginning with the 2016-17 season. The former NA3EHL teams became two new divisions within the NA3HL.

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