Here in Michigan, we pride ourselves on our hockey and the countless opportunities to play the sport. The Detroit Red Wings just went through one of the more impressive runs in professional sports history, qualifying for the playoffs in 25 straight seasons that ended in 2016.
College hockey is also a big staple here in the mitten. The state’s seven Division I programs rank second only to both Massachusetts and New York (each with 10) among states with Division I hockey.
Over the last handful of years, personal finance company SmartAsset has conducted studies on the 10 best hockey cities in America, spanning all levels of the sports. They collected data on a number of factors that revolved around “fan intensity” and “quality of life” in said city.
Michigan has had modest representation throughout their various studies and this year’s results are no exception.
— SmartAsset (@smartasset) March 20, 2018
The Michigan men’s hockey team is arguably the poster child for consistent success in Division I. The Wolverines qualified for their 37th NCAA Tournament appearance, putting them in a tie with the University of Minnesota for the most in history. They also have more national championships (9) than any other school.
(Interesting that they list St. Paul to highlight the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, as opposed to making it just the “Twin Cities” as an entry to highlight the Gophers as well, but I digress.)
Here is the excerpt from SmartAsset regarding Ann Arbor:
Ann Arbor loves the Michigan Wolverines. While the attendance numbers for the men’s hockey team doesn’t quite approach the attendance figures for the football games, fans here are still really supportive. According to our data, average attendance to Michigan Wolverines men’s hockey games is equal to 97% of stadium capacity. That’s equal to roughly 5% of the city’s total population.
Plus, Ann Arbor is more than just a hockey town, it’s also a great place to live. It is a relatively safe city with plenty to do. It scores in the top 25 for both low crime metrics and in the top 20 for its dining and entertainment establishment rate.
Michigan was named to the top 10 from these SmartAsset studies each of the last three years, much like Michigan Tech has, who has been in every study going back to 2015.
The Houghton-based Huskies have been playing collegiate hockey since the Woodrow Wilson Administration back in 1919, making them the oldest hockey program among universities in the mitten. The now two-time defending WCHA Tournament champions are back in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years, 13th overall, and will be gunning for their fourth national title has a huge underdog.
Per SmartAsset regarding Houghton:
Coming in right behind Ann Arbor is another Michigan town, Houghton. This city is home to the Michigan Tech Huskies. The average Michigan Tech Huskies game is attended by over 3,000 people, an enormous figure for a town of only 8,000. According to Google data, residents search the term “hockey” about as much as they Google the term “food.”
Another plus to living here is the home affordability. According to our data, the median home costs only $730 per month, almost $430 per month less than the average home in Ann Arbor.
A couple other takeaways from these studies on the best hockey cities:
- Houghton is actually one of three cities to be ranked in the top 10 in each of the four studies, joining Hanover, New Hampshire (Dartmouth University) and Grand Forks, North Dakota (University of North Dakota), who was ranked No. 1 in every study done.
- A total of 20 different cities were recognized at least once throughout the four studies compiled by SmartAsset. Of the 20, 16 are college towns.
- Of the four non-college cities, two are home to NHL teams: Pittsburgh (No. 9 in 2015) and St. Paul (No. 10 in 2018). The other two cities both base AHL clubs: Hersey, PA (Hershey Bears) and Glens Falls, NY (Adirondack Flames).
- In an expanded top 25 of best hockey cities for the 2018 study, one will find two more Michigan-based cities: Marquette (Northern Michigan University) at No. 15 and Big Rapids (Ferris State University) at No. 19; Marquette was No. 8 back in 2015.