As the leaves begin to fall, the pucks start to slide. Hockey season in America captivates fans like no other sport. The obsession and devotion to the team trumps the likes of football, basketball and baseball combined. Indulge in the inappropriate chants, goalie shaming ansd roars. If you live north of the Mason-Dixon line, puck is your drug and you need it at all times—especially in college. Before you check the box to apply to your number one choice, check out 10 schools where you might catch a puck to the face.
10. UNION COLLEGE
Slammed in the heart of New York, Union College isn’t known for its powerhouse sports programs. This small liberal arts college in the town of Schenectady prides itself on its academic excellence with an average SAT of 1950 and ACT of 29. In 2014, however, the school’s reputation forever changed after its Cinderella run to the NCAA Championship Final against Minnesota. The Dutchmen skated away with a 7-4 victory, taking the school and the hockey world by storm. Since 2010, the average attendance at each game has risen every year, and now accumulates to 2,106 per game. Look for that number to rise as the hockey revolution at Union continues.
9. PROVIDENCE COLLEGE
Winter in P-town, Rhode Island generally centers around the Friars’ Big East basketball schedule. In 2015, though, Providence made a historic run in the NCAA hockey tournament the likes of which hadn’t been seen since 1985. Providence won in thrilling fashion 4-3 against the heavily favored Boston University Terriers. Students get in for free, so that’s a no-brainer. According to Providence College sophomore Connor McGrath, “The national championship night was crazy because it was our first national title in any men’s sport. It was definitely the talk of the town and probably still is.” The Providence hockey program is on the rise, so hop on the bandwagon before it takes off.
8. NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame’s dedication to success in academics and athletics surpasses most universities around the world. Yeah, the Fighting Irish like to succeed. Hockey at this Hockey East Conference powerhouse is no exception. Although only appearing in two Frozen Fours, Notre Dame is consistently ranked in the top 25 in the country every year along with an NCAA tournament bid. While the accolades don’t accompany the Fighting Irish just yet, the fans still cherish the games; players consistently skate in front of 4,500 people a night. The Irish also have graduated over 100 players to professional hockey leagues around the world, including the NHL, AHL and CHL. Look for the Fighting Irish to break through in the coming years with their first national championship.
7. UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
At a school with low-key phenomenal sports programs including lacrosse and soccer, hockey still excites fans like no other sport. Nicknamed “Spanky,” Denver senior Jordan* expressed, “We make it to 90 percent of the games and pre-game everyone with ‘riot fuel,’ which is an empty milk jug that you put half a fifth of Everclear into along with a large Red Bull, some Kool Aid, powdered sugar, a liter of sprite and some water to round out the Kool Aid. Then we research the opposing goalie so we can find out his mother’s and girlfriend’s names so we can personalize our insults.” Denver hockey backs up their in-game antics with stellar performance. With seven NCAA championships and over 70 NHL alumni, Denver is one of the premiere hockey schools in the country.
6. MICHIGAN TECH
Although the program hasn’t seen a large amount of national success recently, fans turn out in waves of 3,400 to support one of the historically best hockey programs in the country. Michigan Tech has made it to 10 Frozen Fours and won three NCAA championships. 43 players from the Husky program have made it to the NHL in its history with many more to come. The 2014 to 2015 season that saw the team reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and lead all Division 1 hockey programs rejuvenated the program, and has them primed for a Frozen Four run in the coming season. Better buy your gear now.
5. QUINNIPIAC University
Hockey consumes the hearts and minds of the students and alumni at this small university in Hamden, Connecticut. A consistent string of NCAA tournament appearances since the turn of the century and a Frozen Four appearance in 2013 has made the Bobcats an elite hockey program. QU sophomore Melissa Frank said, “Everyone talks about the Yale game all year and the student tickets sold out in 26 seconds last year for it. The games are awesome and last year the team showed support for the U.S. Army by wearing camo uniforms. Oh, and a lot of people from Hamden and other towns around come out for the games.” Patriotism, historical success and—oh yeah—over 200 alumni who played professionally all make Quinnipiac the place to be for hockey fans.
4. UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
The past, present and future of hockey in America centers around Minnesota. Due to the less-than-temperate climate of this northern state, hockey fanatics became a household staple for all families in the area. In a state that sells out an NHL arena for the high school hockey state championship game, college hockey at University of Minnesota is religion—as seen by the almost 100,000 fans per game that come out to support the Gophers. Hockey will always reign at University of Minnesota, even in absence of their 21 Frozen Four appearances, five NCAA championships and over 200 alumni who played professional hockey. (Those do help, though.)
3. BOSTON UNIVERSITY
As part of one of the biggest sports cities in the world, Boston University prides itself on its hockey team’s success. In the Agganis Arena, BU begins its annual march to the Frozen Four as it routinely ranks in the top 10 in the country. With over 4,000 fans screaming at every game, the Terriers always put on a show. Sophomore Sam Depalma said, “We start every game singing ‘For Boston’ by the Dropkick Murphy’s and people go nuts. Everyone always wants to get in on the action and the band plus a huge crowd and full student section always gets everyone pumped.” Games with cross-town rival Boston College get particularly rowdy as the sold out crowds hold nothing back on the chants. Five NCAA championships don’t exactly hurt either.
2. BOSTON COLLEGE
BU and BC are so similar in terms of hockey pride that they have to be right next to each other. BC ties BU in national championships with five, but has 23 Frozen Four appearances to BU’s 22. The student section during BC games routinely overflows, especially when playing the Terriers combined with “This is our city” chants. BC sophomore Dan Moverman is always hyped. “I remember the first BC versus BU game I went to and it was so loud in the arena because it was so packed. Every time the puck slid near the goal the crowd went crazy. Kids were literally sitting up and down the stairs.” Currently, the Eagles have 18 alumni playing in the NHL along with BC hockey uniforms stretching from Florida to Canada in support. Join the packed Conte Forum arena with students, faculty and fans and get ready for a rowdy time.
1. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA
Grand Forks, North Dakota houses the absolute best university for hockey fans. Hands-down the most watched and anticipated sport at the school, the UND hockey team never fails to put on a show for the 11,500 people who show up to every game. Seven NCAA championships is the reason the Ralph Engelstad Arena sells out every home game. The dedication to hockey is palpable, as the majority of UND paraphernalia around the country is Fighting Sioux hockey shirts. Though, the obsession over the gear may have to do with the fact that they have the sickest uniforms of any hockey team in the country. The intimidating face of a American Indian Sioux Tribe warrior combined with loud green, black and white lining can be seen on kids who can’t even point to North Dakota on a map. If you live and breathe hockey, head to North Dakota to fulfill your puck obsession.
*Last name withheld to protect privacy.