New Hockey League Formed Featuring Montana Clubs

By Beacon Staff

My colleague Dan Testa wrote a story about the newly formed Glacier Nationals Junior A hockey club signing its first player, Michael Noe, last week. In that story, he discussed the recent shakeup of the Nationals’ Northern Pacific (NorPac) Hockey League. In May, NorPac announced it was suspending four teams from the league: Helena, Missoula, Bozeman and Billings.

It didn’t take long for those four teams to find a new home. In a press release sent out yesterday, it was announced that the four former NorPac clubs will be part of the newly certified American West Hockey League (AWHL). The six-team league will consist of the Billings Bulls, Bozeman Icedogs, Gillette Wild, Great Falls Americans, Helena Bighorns and Missoula Maulers.

The AWHL was originally formed back in 1992 and suspended operations in 2003 when the league merged with the North American Hockey League, according to the release. Michael Burks, AWHL president, is happy to have the league up and running again.

“This is a great day for hockey in Montana and Wyoming,” Burks said. “We wanted to establish a set of higher standards for our organizations and the only viable way was to bring back the AWHL.”

The league’s website,, is not live yet but will be in the coming days. For more information on the Nationals’ NorPac league, visit

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.