Alaska is cold. Real cold. As America’s most northern state, ice hockey was a natural extension of the state’s year-round hobbies.
So, in the 1980s, Alaska got its first professional hockey team: The Alaska Aces.
What started as an amateur men’s team in 1975 transformed into a semi-professional hockey team in Fairbanks, Alaska as a part of the Pacific Southwest Hockey League.
Fast-forward 40 years, and the Aces are long gone, but Alaska has had a few pro teams and other high-level hockey teams.
In this article, I’ll show you what hockey teams are in Alaska and what college and junior teams compete in the state.
Pssssst! Are you curious about hockey teams in other U.S. states? You can learn more by checking out our other posts: What Hockey Team Is in Florida, What Hockey Team Is in Hawaii, What Hockey Team Is in Pennsylvania.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s What Hockey Teams Are In Alaska:
While Alaska doesn’t have an NHL team, its top teams are the University of Alaska – Anchorage and the University of Alaska – Fairbanks (NCAA D1 teams). Alaska’s top junior hockey teams are the Anchorage Wolverines, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, and Kenai River Brown Bears (NAHL Tier II).
Does Alaska Have a Hockey Team?
So, what is Alaska’s top hockey team?
Arkansas only has a few high-level ice hockey teams. However, they don’t have an NHL team as it’s a smaller state (740,000 people), and they’re too far away making travel difficult.
The top hockey teams in Alaska are the University of Alaska – Anchorage and University of Alaska – Fairbanks. They compete in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) as D1 teams.
Arkansas’ top junior hockey teams are the Anchorage Wolverines, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, and Kenai River Brown Bears which compete in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) as Tier II teams.
Does Alaska Have an NHL Team?
So, will you find an NHL hockey team in Arkansas?
The short answer is, no. Alaska’s population is only about 740,000, making it the third lowest population of any state (only ahead of Vermont and Wyoming. The population is simply too small to support an NHL team, let alone any major sports team.
Plus, Alaska is quite far out of the way, which would make it quite challenging to travel. While it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to play against teams like The Canucks, Oilers, or Flames, it would be a challenge traveling to and from Alaska to Florida or New York.
What NHL Team Does Alaska Root For?
Alaska doesn’t have its own NHL team. However, the “Last Frontier” State still has an active NHL fanbase.
There isn’t really a consensus #1 NHL team that Alaskans cheer for. However, one of the most popular NHL teams for Alaskans is the Detroit Red Wings.
The “runner-up” team would likely be the Colorado Avalanche.
What Hockey Teams Are in Alaska?
So, what hockey teams are in Alaska? The “Last Frontier” State only has a handful of hockey teams as seen below:
Alaska doesn’t have an NHL team.
Alaska doesn’t currently have an American Hockey League (AHL) team. The AHL is a high-level professional sports league just one step below the NHL.
Alaska doesn’t currently have an East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) team. However, they did once have an ECHL team between 1989 and 2003. The ECHL is a mid-level professional sports league just one step below the AHL.
What was the name of the Alaska ECHL team? Alaska Aces. They competed between 1989 and 2017
So, where did the Alaska Aces play? The Aces played their home games at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Alaska Aces were originally introduced into the Pacific Southwest Hockey League (PSHL) in 1989 as the Anchorage Aces. In 1995 they joined the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) for 7 years before the WCHL merged with the ECHL in 2003. Between 2003 and 2017, the Aces won three ECHL championships over the course of their history, with their last Kelly Cup win in the 2013-14 season.
D1 College Hockey
Alaska has a total of two (D1, D2, D3) varsity college hockey teams that compete within the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA):
- University of Alaska – Anchorage (NCAA Men’s D1)
- University of Alaska – Fairbanks (NCAA Men’s D1)
Alaska has a few high-level junior ice hockey teams that play within the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The NAHL is a Division II junior league spanning the United States.
Here are the three Alaskan teams in the NAHL:
- Anchorage Wolverines
- Fairbanks Ice Dogs
- Kenai River Brown Bears
Is There High School Hockey in Alaska?
Yes, there is high school hockey in Alaska. The “Last Frontier” State has a single governing body for all high school hockey: The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA).
The ASAA includes two divisions: D1 and D2 with two conferences in each division.
In the ASAA D1 division, there are twelve varsity teams:
- South Anchorage
- West Anchorage
- Eagle River
- Bettye Davis East Anchorage
- West Valley
In the ASAA D2 division, there are thirteen varsity teams:
- North Pole
- Monroe Catholic
- Kenai Central
Is Hockey Popular in Alaska?
So, do they play hockey in Alaska?
Absolutely! Have you seen how cold it gets there? While Alaska doesn’t currently have a professional hockey team, they still have a number of high level college and junior hockey teams, making the sport quite popular in the state.
In 2022, WalletHub crunched the numbers to determine which hockey cities were best for fans of the sport. In the study, WalletHub ranked the top 72 cities in the U.S. They worked with 21 key indicators of what made a city a “good” hockey city. Different indicators included stadium capacity, ticket prices, and the performance of major teams, among many others.
Alaska had one city that ranked in the top 72: Fairbanks, Alaska. The city just squeezed into the top 72 by placing 69th.
Are you curious to know more about hockey in other states across the U.S.? Don’t forget to check out our full guide: Hockey Teams in Every U.S. State: Complete NHL & College List (2023)