Professional ice hockey made its way into Idaho less than 30 years ago.
Idaho is one of the most northern states (it borders Canada just south of British Columbia and Alberta), making it an ideal climate for ice hockey.
However, ice hockey is still relatively small in the state, primarily because of its smaller population (only 1.9 million people).
In this article, I’ll show you what pro hockey teams are in Idaho 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 South Dakota, and What Hockey Team Is in Pennsylvania.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s What Hockey Teams Are In Idaho:
While Idaho doesn’t have an NHL team, they do have one pro hockey team: The Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). They also have some high-level college hockey teams like the University of Idaho and Boise State University (ACHA Men’s D2) and a Tier III junior team: The Idaho Falls Spud Kings.
Does Idaho Have a Hockey Team?
So, what is Idaho’s hockey team?
Idaho has several ice hockey teams. However, they don’t have an NHL team as the state is too small for an NHL market (almost 1.9 million people).
The top hockey team in Idaho is a mid-level professional hockey team: the Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).
The Idaho Steelheads are the affiliated farm team for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The top college hockey teams in Idaho are the University of Idaho and Boise State University (ACHA Men’s D2).
Does Idaho Have an NHL Team?
So, will you find an NHL hockey team in Idaho?
The short answer is, no. Idaho’s population is just about 1.9 million people which is too small for an NHL team.
What NHL Team Does Idaho Root For?
Idaho has never had its own NHL team. However, the Gem State still has a very active NHL fanbase.
Here are some of the most popular NHL teams people from Idaho cheer for:
- Anaheim Ducks
- Los Angeles Kings
- San Jose Sharks
- Dallas Stars
- Vegas Golden Knights
- Seattle Kraken
For years, the closest geographical team to Boise, Idaho in the U.S. was California’s San Jose Sharks (11-hour drive), then the Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks. Then came the Vegas Golden Knights (9.75 hour drive).
Recently, the Kraken in Seattle, Washington became the closest geographical NHL franchise in the U.S. at an 8-hour drive. There will likely be a growing Seattle Kraken fanbase in Idaho now that they’re the closest NHL team to Boise (and the newest NHL franchise overall).
What Hockey Teams Are in Idaho?
So, what hockey teams are in Idaho? The Gem State has one professional hockey team and several college and junior teams as listed below:
While Idaho has one professional hockey team, they, unfortunately, don’t have an NHL team. While there are many NHL fans in Idaho, there isn’t a consensus number one NHL team the state cheers for.
Idaho 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.
Idaho has one professional ice hockey team in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). This is a mid-level professional sports league just one step below the AHL.
What is the name of the Idaho ECHL team? The Idaho Steelheads.
The Steelheads are the affiliated farm team for the AHL’s Texas Stars and the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
So, where do the Idaho Steelheads play? The Steelheads play their home games at the Idaho Central Arena located at 233 S Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID.
D2 College Hockey
While Idaho doesn’t have an NHL team, they do have some high-level college hockey. The state has two college hockey teams within D2 levels that compete within the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA):
- University of Idaho (ACHA Men’s D2)
- Boise State University (ACHA Men’s D2)
While Idaho is better known for its college hockey, it has one junior hockey team as well. Idaho’s junior team, the Idaho Falls Spud Kings competes within the United States Premier Hockey League, a Tier III junior league.
Idaho used to be home to another junior hockey team called the Idaho Jr. Steelheads (otherwise known as the Idaho IceCats). They played in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) and were based in McCall, Idaho between 2010 and 2017.
Is There High School Hockey in Idaho?
Idaho doesn’t have a central governing body for all of its high school ice hockey teams in the state. The most popular league is the Boise High School Hockey League.
In the Boise High School Hockey League, there are six teams:
- Mountain View
- Eagle/Rocky Mountain
- Boise High
- Boise Knights
Is Hockey Popular in Idaho?
Curious whether or not Idaho is a big hockey state?
Well, overall, even though Idaho has the climate for ice hockey (since it’s a northern state), it’s a smaller state, and hockey isn’t the most popular sport.
In terms of popularity (compared to the rest of the U.S. states), it’s quite average. The fact that they have a mid-level pro team in the Idaho Steelheads means hockey is relatively popular.
If you’re wondering what the most popular hockey states (and cities) are, check out this WalletHub study. In 2022, they did a large study to determine which cities were best for ice hockey fans. In it, WalletHub ranked the top 72 cities in the U.S. They used 21 factors of what made a city a “good” hockey city. Key indicators included stadium capacity, ticket prices, and the performance of major teams.
Idaho unfortunately didn’t have a city crack the top 72. However, the Gem State has one of the smallest populations among U.S. states (38 of 50) with only 1.9 million.
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)