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Austin Ice Bats to return as Tier III junior hockey team

The Austin Ice Bats were previously a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Austin from 1996 to 2008.
Credit: North American 3 Hockey League
Photo courtesy of the North American 3 Hockey League.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Ice Bats are returning to the rink, but not quite as you may remember.

The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), a Tier III junior hockey league, announced Tuesday that it has approved the membership of the Austin Ice Bats. The Ice Bats will begin play in the NA3HL's South Division beginning in the 2021-22 season. 

The team will play out of Chaparral Ice at The Crossover in Cedar Park.

"We are excited to continue our growth in the South Division with the addition of the Austin Ice Bats. This will be the first junior hockey team of its kind in the Austin area and with the already established teams and growth of the NA3HL’s South Division, this is an exciting addition to the footprint," NA3HL Commissioner Blake MacNicol said.

The new Austin Ice Bats are owned by TMSD, LLC, led by principal owner Ryan Raya, who also owns Chaparral Ice.

"Bringing the Ice Bats back to Austin is something me and my partners thought would really bring excitement to people inside and outside of the hockey community. They were part of the DNA here for many years and now will fill a hole in our youth hockey developmental pyramid that can help bridge the gap for local kids to perhaps play for any of the NAHL teams that are an easy drive from Cedar Park and Austin, without ever having to leave home," Raya said.

The Austin Ice Bats were previously a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Austin from 1996 to 2008. The Austin Ice Bats was one of six original franchises in the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) in 1996 and they would later play in the Central Hockey League (CHL) after it merged and absorbed the WPHL in 2001.

WATCH: Austin hockey goaltender playing in honor of his hospitalized dad

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