The Best Colleges for Hockey

If you want to get involved in hockey in college, look into these colleges!

Main image courtesy of Unsplash.

When you’re in the process of applying for colleges, there are a lot of things to keep in mind-- the reputation of the school, what kinds of majors it offers, how you’re going to finance your education, and more. As stressful as this can all be, it’s important to keep in mind that your college should provide plenty of opportunities for you to have fun and grow outside of academics, too-- from its variety of clubs, organizations, and volunteer programs to its sports programs.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best colleges for hockey players and fans alike to attend. The schools listed here all have great hockey programs, making them wonderful schools to look into if you want to play hockey at a high level in college-- or if you just want to enjoy yourself attending exciting games every once in a while.

The Best Colleges for Hockey

Princeton University

Starting the list off strong is Princeton University. Princeton’s hockey team, the Princeton Tigers, is an NCAA Division I team. This hockey program is an extremely old one, dating back to the 1890s, and for many years, the team struggled through a succession of coaches and losing seasons. However, in the past few decades, the Tigers have gotten back on track and risen in relevance-- since the team made its first NCAA tournament under Don Cahoon in 1998, it has remained competitive in college hockey. The program is on the upswing, certainly-- so it’s a good place for hopeful college hockey players to keep an eye on.

University of Denver

A University of Denver hockey player wearing red on the ice
The University of Denver is one of the best colleges for hockey. Image courtesy of the University of Denver.

The Denver Pioneers-- the hockey team representing the University of Denver-- is a Division I team that plays in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The team is tied with the University of Michigan for the most NCAA tournament championships in hockey history-- both schools have won 9 NCAA championships. On top of this, Denver has also won 15 Regular Season Conference Championships and 14 Conference Playoff Championships-- so, needless to say, this is an extremely strong and competitive hockey program. Even if you’re no hockey player yourself, the Pioneers’ record suggests that you’ll have a great time watching them throughout their season if you attend the University of Denver.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan hockey team lined up next to the ice
The University of Michigan boasts a strong hockey program. Image courtesy of Michigan Daily.

As we’ve already mentioned, the Michigan Wolverines are tied with the Denver Pioneers for the most NCAA championship wins of all-time-- the team has 9 NCAA championships to their name, and has played in a record 22 consecutive NCAA tournaments. Besides this, the hockey program at the University of Michigan is extremely lively and popular, as are most of the school’s sports teams-- the team holds a Guinness world record after a game in 2010, called The Big Chill, saw upwards of 113,000 people in attendance. 

It’s not hard to see why hockey enthusiasts would want to keep the University of Michigan on their list of colleges to look into-- if you’re a hockey player, this is an extremely competitive and high-level team to play with, and if you’re just a fan, you’ll be sure to have a great time watching high-energy games with friends.

Boston College

Boston College boasts one of the oldest and strongest hockey programs in the country. The Boston College Eagles, a Division I team that competes in the Hockey East Association, have won 5 NCAA championships and have made 25 Final Four appearances-- the second-highest number of Final Four appearances of all time. With a history of excellent coaching and great success on the ice, this is definitely a school for prospective college hockey players to look into-- a strong, consistent program like this one is hard to find.

University of Wisconsin-- Madison

The women's hockey team celebrating with each other at the University of Wisconsin
The men’s and women’s hockey teams at the University of Wisconsin have great track records. Image courtesy of WiscNews.

The Wisconsin Badgers, at the University of Wisconsin, have an excellent track record for both the women’s and men’s hockey teams. The men’s team competes in the Big Ten Conference and has won 6 NCAA tournaments-- the fourth-best record in the history of college hockey-- and has made a total of 25 NCAA tournament appearances. The women’s team, coached by Mark Johnson, also consistently performs well, having won several WCHA and NCAA championships since being formed in 1999. The University of Wisconsin, then, is an excellent school to keep in mind if you’re interested in playing or watching college hockey, whether you’re a woman or a man-- both programs have great reputations.

Harvard University

The Harvard men's hockey team lined up on the ice
Harvard University has one of the oldest college hockey programs in the country. Image courtesy of The Harvard Crimson.

The Harvard Crimson, representing Harvard University, have been around as a team since the late 1890s-- and they’re a great team to keep an eye on if you love college hockey. Besides the Crimson’s exciting rivalry with the Cornell Big Red, which is the oldest college hockey rivalry in history, the team has won several Ivy League, ECAC, and Beanpot championships in its time.

Arizona State University

Arizona State's men's hockey team on the ice before a game starts
The Sun Devils are currently one of six independent Division I NCAA hockey teams. Image courtesy of FloHockey.

The Arizona State Sun Devils are an independent NCAA Division I team located in Tempe, Arizona-- and it’s a solid school to keep on your list if you want to get involved with hockey in college. Although the team is currently independent, they will be joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in 2024, and they have made an appearance in several national tournaments in the past-- so it’s worth it to look into ASU if hockey is a priority for you.

Minnesota State University-- Mankato

Minnesota State hockey players celebrating on the ice
The Minnesota State Mavericks joined NCAA Division I in 1996. Image courtesy of Bring Me The News.

Minnesota State University in Mankato has a solid hockey program for hockey enthusiasts to keep an eye on, too. After achieving great success at the Division III and Division II levels, the Minnesota State Mavericks started playing hockey at the NCAA Division I level in 1996. They now play in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, have won several conference titles, and have reached the NCAA tournament a handful of times, making this a good school to look into if you want to get involved with an already-solid, but always-improving hockey team.

Ohio State University

The Ohio State Buckeyes are a Division I hockey team that competes in the Big Ten Conference, and they’ve had a pretty good record for the past ten years or so, so this is a team to keep an eye on if you’re interested in playing hockey at a school with great academics. Even if you’re not a hockey player yourself, but just want to attend exciting games with friends, Ohio State University is a great place to keep in mind-- as with most of the school’s sports programs, a lively culture has sprung up around the hockey team, and crowds get extremely invested in games.

Pennsylvania State University

The Penn State Nittany Lions have been an NCAA Division I team since the 2012-2013 season-- before that, they were considered a club sport-- and compete in the Big Ten Conference alongside a handful of other schools on this list. In recent years, the team has seen a lot of success-- they won their first Big Ten Tournament championship in 2017, and their first NCAA tournament appearance found them obliterating their opponent 10-3. The Lions also have a great student section, if you want to be able to support the team by attending games. The Roar Zone is an official club on campus and has its own set of bleachers built to fit up to 1,000 students at a time, so you’ll have plenty of company going to games. This program seems to still be rising-- so it’s definitely worth looking into if you want to get involved with a great college hockey team.

Cornell University

Cornell University boasts an excellent hockey program, making it a great school to keep an eye on if you’re dedicated to participating in college hockey. The Cornell Big Reds compete in the ECAC Hockey conference, where it has won the most ECAC championships in conference history, and has also won the Ivy League championship 25 times-- so this team is definitely a strong one, and if you’re able to get involved, you’re sure to learn and grow a lot as a player.

Those Were the Best Colleges for Hockey!

The college search can be extremely chaotic, between figuring out applications, high school transcripts, funding, majors, and what kind of college you want to attend. In the midst of all of these weighty issues, though, it’s important to spare some thought for the extracurriculars, clubs, and sports offered at the schools you are looking at.

If you’re invested in playing hockey at the college level, chances are that you’re already set on finding a great school with a great hockey program that you can participate in. If you aren’t sure exactly where to look yet, though, the schools on this list are a great place to start-- each of them has a solid hockey program where you can play alongside teammates who are just as passionate about hockey as you are. Many of them also have great sports cultures, so it’s just as exciting for hockey fans to attend games at these schools and support their teams. Whether or not you end up trying to get into one of the schools on this list-- we wish you luck on your college search!

Skyler Watkins
Skyler Watkins is an aspiring author and editor located in Columbus, Ohio.
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