In 1979, Connecticut entered the NHL with their team – the Hartford Whalers.
However, the team was relocated in 1997 and the state lost their NHL team.
But, the story doesn’t end there. Today, Connecticut is home to three different professional ice hockey teams and four NCAA D1 college hockey teams.
In this article, I’ll show you what pro hockey teams are in Connecticut 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 Rhode Island, and What Hockey Team Is in Pennsylvania.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s What Hockey Teams Are In Connecticut:
While Connecticut doesn’t have an NHL team, they do have three pro hockey teams: Bridgeport Islanders (AHL), Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL), and Danbury Hat Tricks (FPHL). They also have some of the best D1 college hockey teams in the U.S. including Yale University, Quinnipiac, and Sacred Heart among many others.
Does Connecticut Have a Hockey Team?
So, what is Connecticut’s hockey team?
Connecticut has several ice hockey teams. However, they don’t have any NHL teams as the state’s hockey market isn’t quite big enough (even though they once had an NHL team: the Hartford Whalers).
The top two hockey teams in Connecticut are the Bridgeport Islanders and Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).
The Bridgeport Islanders are the affiliated farm team for the New York Islanders and the Hartford Wolf Pack is the affiliated farm team for the New York Rangers of the NHL.
Here are the top college hockey teams in Connecticut:
- Yale University (NCAA D1)
- Quinnipiac University (NCAA D1)
- University of Connecticut (NCAA D1)
- Sacred Heart University (NCAA D1)
Does Connecticut Have an NHL Team?
So, will you find an NHL hockey team in Connecticut?
The short answer is, no. Connecticut once had its own NHL team: The Hartford Whalers. They played in the World Hockey Association between 1972 and 1979 before the WHA joined the NHL. Originally based out of Boston, the team was moved to Hartford in 1974.
In 1979, the Whalers joined the NHL and played there for nearly 20 years. In 1997, however, the team was sold and relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina, to become the Carolina Hurricanes.
What NHL Team Does Connecticut Root For?
Connecticut hasn’t had its own NHL team since 1997. However, the Constitution State still has a very active NHL fanbase.
So, what NHL team is popular in Connecticut?
NHL fans in CT typically cheer for one of four teams: New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, or Carolina Hurricanes.
The pre-Hartford Whalers were originally from Boston, so when the team left, many Connecticut NHL fans began cheering for the Bruins again. When the Whalers left Hartford for North Carolina, many continued rooting for the new Carolina Hurricanes.
In terms of the two New York teams: Connecticut’s AHL teams have close NHL affiliates: The Bridgeport Islanders is the farm team for the New York Islanders while the Hartford Wolf Pack is the farm team for the New York Rangers. So, the two New York teams have a solid fanbase due to their Connecticut AHL teams.
What Hockey Teams Are in Connecticut?
So, what hockey teams are in Connecticut? The Constitution State has three professional hockey teams and several college and junior teams as listed below:
While Connecticut has a few professional hockey teams, they, unfortunately, don’t have an NHL team. NHL fans in Connecticut typically cheer for one of four teams: Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, or Carolina Hurricanes.
Connecticut has two professional ice hockey teams in the American Hockey League (AHL). This is a high-level professional sports league just one step below the NHL.
The Bridgeport Islanders are the AHL team in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They’re the affiliated minor league farm team for the New York Islanders. They play their home games at the Total Mortgage Arena located at 600 Main St, Bridgeport, CT.
The Hartford Wolf Pack is the AHL team in Hartford, CT. They’re the affiliated minor league farm team for the New York Rangers. They play their home games at the XL Center located at 1 Civic Center Plaza, Hartford.
While Connecticut doesn’t have an ECHL or SPHL team (mid and low-level professional leagues below the AHL), they do have a FPHL team. The FPHL is short for the Federal Prospects Hockey League. It’s a lower-level hockey league in the eastern U.S. Connecticut has one FPHL team: The Danbury Hat Tricks. They play their home games at the Danbury Ice Arena located at 1 Independence Way, Danbury, CT.
D1, D2, D3 College Hockey
While Connecticut doesn’t have an NHL team, they do have some of the best college hockey in America. The state has a variety of college hockey teams within D1, D2, D3 levels that compete within the NCAA and ACHA:
- Quinnipiac University (NCAA Men’s D1)
- Sacred Heart University (NCAA Men’s D1)
- University of Connecticut (NCAA Men’s D1)
- Yale University (NCAA Men’s D1)
- Post University (NCAA Men’s D2)
- Sacred Heart University (ACHA Men’s D2)
- Central Connecticut State University (ACHA Men’s D2)
- Connecticut College (ACHA Men’s D2)
- Eastern Connecticut State University (ACHA Men’s D2)
- University of Connecticut (ACHA Men’s D2)
- Wesleyan University (NCAA Men’s D3)
- Albertus Magnus College (NCAA Men’s D3)
- Connecticut College (NCAA Men’s D3)
- Trinity College – Connecticut (NCAA Men’s D3)
- Sacred Heart University (ACHA Men’s D3)
- Yale University (ACHA Men’s D3)
- Western Connecticut State University (ACHA Men’s D3)
- University of New Haven (ACHA Men’s D3)
- Trinity College (ACHA Men’s D3)
- University of Connecticut (ACHA Men’s D3)
- United States Coast Guard Academy (ACHA Men’s D3)
There are a total of five junior ice hockey team in Connecticut: The five teams compete within different leagues including North American Hockey League (NAHL), The United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL), and the North American Tier 3 Hockey League (NA3HL):
- Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NAHL Tier II)
- Connecticut Jr. Rangers (USPHL – NCDC Tier II)
- Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NA3HL Tier III)
- Norwich Sea Captains (NA3HL Tier III)
- Connecticut Jr. Rangers (USPHL – Premier Tier III)
Is There High School Hockey in Connecticut?
Yes, Connecticut’s primary high school hockey system is run by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Boys Hockey program.
There are a total of 55 high school hockey teams broken up into 3 divisions: Division I (14 teams), Division II (20 teams), and Division III (21 teams):
- Fairfield Prep
- Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe
- New Canaan
- Northwest Catholic
- Notre Dame-Fairfield
- Notre Dame-West Haven
- St. Joseph
- West Haven Coop
- Daniel Hand
- E.Haven Coop
- East Catholic
- Eastern CT Eagles
- Farmington Valley
- Lyman Hall
- North Branford
- North Haven
- South Windsor
- Woodstock Academy
- E.O. Smith/Tolland
- Enfield-E. Granby-Stafford
- Housatonic Coop
- Milford Coop
- New Milford
- Newington Coop
- Newtown/New Fairfield
- Rocky Hill Coop
Why Did the Whalers Leave CT?
The Hartford Whalers were Connecticut’s NHL team between 1979 and 1997. In 1997, the team was relocated to North Carolina and transformed into the Carolina Hurricanes.
While the team had highs and lows, it was sold in 1994 to Peter Karmanos. He had high hopes for playoff success but didn’t see it. In 1996, attendance was very low and the team wasn’t doing well. The Whalers also wanted a new arena in 1997, but people weren’t in favor of using taxpayer money for it.
The deal between Karmanos and Governor Rowland fell apart and they left for North Carolina in 1997.
Will the NHL Come Back to Hartford?
Hartford, CT used to be home to the NHL’s Hartford Whalers. They had highs and lows and even signed legend Gordie Howe to the team.
However, Hartford struggled in the 90s and was eventually sold and relocated to North Carolina to become the Hurricanes in 1997.
So, will Hartford ever get an NHL team again?
The primary factor comes down to money. Currently, with a population of about 1.21 million people, the population isn’t that big. The XL center is also quite small and the city would likely need a new arena to kick off a brand new franchise.
However, Hartford shouldn’t be left out of the conversation for a future NHL team. They may not be the most likely location of the next NHL franchise, but they have the potential if the population and market demand grows in the future.
Does Danbury CT Have a Hockey Team?
Yes, Danbury, Connecticut has three hockey teams (including one professional team).
The Danbury Hat Tricks are a lower-level professional hockey team that competes in the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL).
Danbury is also home to two junior hockey teams: Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NAHL Tier II) and the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NA3HL Tier III).
Are the Danbury Trashers Still a Hockey Team?
No, the Danbury Trashers were disbanded in 2006.
However, they were a professional hockey team based in Danbury, CT, that played in the United Hockey League (UHL). In 2004, the Trashers were introduced to the league as an expansion team.
The team got its name thanks to the owner, James Galante’s waste management business. In their debut season, the Trashers quickly gained a reputation for their physical, and aggressive style of play. They tacked up plenty of hits and penalty minutes due to fighting. However, the season got out of hand with multiple suspensions and even a few line brawls.
While they had early success in the league, at the end of the second season, owner James Galante was arrested for 72 total criminal charges. He pleaded guilty and had to forfeit his ownership rights in 25 companies, and the Trashers disbanded.
What Did Gretzky Play for the Trashers?
Gretzky played for the Danbury Trashers! But… it’s not the Gretzky you’re thinking of. Brent Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky’s younger brother played for the Danbury Trashers during its inaugural season in 2004-05
However, this was Brent’s last year playing professional hockey. Brent Gretzky, along with four other former Danbury Trashers were given subpoenas by the FBI during James Galante’s (Trasher’s owner) criminal investigation which later led to the team’s disbandment.
Is Hockey Popular in Connecticut?
Curious whether or not Connecticut is a big hockey state?
Well, overall, it’s pretty safe to say hockey is a big deal in Connecticut, even without an NHL team.
Connecticut has three pro hockey teams, including 2 AHL teams: the Islanders and Wolf Pack. Plus, they have some of the best D1 college hockey teams in the country (Yale, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, University of Connecticut, etc.).
In 2022, WalletHub crunched the numbers to figure out which cities were best for ice hockey fans. In the study, WalletHub ranked the top 72 cities in the U.S. They used 21 key indicators of what made a city a “good” hockey city. Some indicators included stadium capacity,ticket prices, and the performance of major teams, (among many other factors).
Connecticut had three cities that ranked in the top 72:
- Storrs, CT (#35)
- Fairfield, CT (#43)
- New Haven, CT (#51)
Are you curious to know more about hockey in other states across the U.S.? Don’t forget to check out our other full guide: Hockey Teams in Every U.S. State: Complete NHL & College List (2023)