Apr 19, 2022

(Albuquerque, NM) Tuesday, April 19, 2022- The New Mexico Ice Wolves® today announced that on the heels of joining the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) with the purchase of the Oklahoma City Blazers team named Darren Banks Head Coach and General Manager starting immediately. Banks will lead the NM Ice Wolves NA3HL team in the league’s South Division playing out of Outpost Ice Arenas in Albuquerque, NM beginning in the upcoming 2022-23. 

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to coach the New Mexico Ice Wolves NA3HL team and help develop players and the organization,” said Darren Banks. “I look forward to building on the winning culture that has been established by the New Mexico Ice Wolves NAHL team and using my coaching and recruiting experience to add to the ladder of development for hockey in New Mexico.”

“Darren is an experienced coach and scout that we are thrilled to have join the NM Ice Wolves to lead our NA3HL team as head coach and general manager,” said Stan E. Hubbard, owner of the NM Ice Wolves. “His background in building teams and helping each individual reach their full potential will be a tremendous asset to this team, all of our players, the organization and the growing hockey community in New Mexico.” 

A native of Athens, Texas Banks has rich hockey history including playing in the NA3HL (Gillette Wild) and NAHL (Minot Minotauros) during his junior career and playing for Finlandia University (NCAA D3), and the University of Utah (ACHA D1) in college. Banks began his coaching career with the USPHL Steele County Blades as an assistant coach. From Steele County, Banks returned to Minot to be the NAHL’s Minot Minotauros Assistant Coach and Scouting Director.

As a player, Banks played three seasons with the NA3HL’s Gillette Wild. In those three seasons Banks played in 124 games scoring a total of 82 points. The forward had 31 goals and 51 assists in his tenure with Gillette. During his final season (2014-2015) with Gillette, Banks played three games with the Minot Minotauros (NAHL). Banks played his first college season with Finlandia University (NCAA D3). Banks played in 12 games for Finlandia. From there, Banks transferred to the University of Oklahoma before finishing his final two seasons with the University of Utah. Banks played in 44 games for the Utes and had 16 points (11 goals, 5 assists).

The new NA3HL NM Ice Wolves will play in the NA3HL’s South Division in 2022-23 and will play out of the Outpost Ice Arenas where the NAHL New Mexico Ice Wolves play. The NA3HL is one of two USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III Junior leagues and serves as one of the top high level developmental leagues in the country by providing the best coaching, exposure and developmental vehicles available for student-athletes in its classification. 

The NA3HL team will play at the Outpost Ice Arenas where the NAHL New Mexico Ice Wolves now play and will share all facilities, including the team’s world class Hockey Speed Gym that was created by USA Hockey legend Jack Blatherwick and unique training rinks that combine to provide players on both teams, and the local youth teams, some of the best ice hockey training, development tools and facilities anywhere. The NM Ice Wolves will bring more families into their very successful host family program to be able to welcome more players to the community. For families interested in learning more about becoming a host family contact Jerry Hancock at hostfamilies@nmicewolves.com. Existing arena and team staff will handle most of the new NA3HL responsibilities, including marketing, ticket sales, travel, partnerships and more.

The New Mexico Ice Wolves NA3HL team will announce additional staff and tryout dates in the upcoming weeks, as well as season ticket and sponsorship information. You can learn more about the New Mexico Ice Wolves NA3HL team on their NA3HL Team Page or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
For team media inquiries, please contact Aaron Martinez at 505-212-8762 or amartinez@reelz.com

About NA3HL
Nearing the end of its 12th season in 2021-22, the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), one of two USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III Junior leagues, serves as one of the top training grounds in the country by providing the best coaching, exposure and developmental vehicles available for student-athletes in its classification. No other league of its kind has had more movement and advanced more players onto play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) than the NA3HL. Thanks to additional and enhanced initiatives that were put in place this season in cooperation with the NAHL, more players from the NA3HL play, practice, and earn NCAA Division I scholarships with the NAHL than any other league. This past season not only did 35 NA3HL players sign tenders to play in the NAHL for the 2021-22 season, but 21 more players were selected in the 2021 NAHL Draft. The NA3HL also continues to make its mark and is one of the leaders in junior hockey with the advancement of players onto the NCAA. The NA3HL had over 120+ college commitments in 2021, with almost 70% of those being NCAA commitments. In addition, over 300 former NA3HL players are currently playing in the NCAA, and 13% of NCAA Division III freshmen this season previously played in the NA3HL.