Minnesota got their first NHL team in the 1967 expansion. However, that team was sold in 1993. However, 7 years later, in 2000, Minnesota got their second NHL team.
Minnesota is known as one of the top hockey states in America… and for good reason. They have a decent-sized population (5.7 million people), they have cold winters, and thousands of lakes that turn into frozen ponds to play hockey on every year.
The question is, what hockey teams are in Minnesota?
In this article, I’ll show you what NHL team is in Minnesota, what other top hockey teams are in “the star of the north”, and where you can watch them. Keep reading to learn all about Minnesota’s hockey teams (NHL, college hockey, and junior hockey)!
Pssssst! Are you curious about hockey teams in other U.S. states and Canadian provinces? You can learn more by checking out our other posts: What Hockey Team Is in Ontario, What Hockey Team Is in Arizona, What Hockey Team Is in Pennsylvania.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s What Hockey Teams Are In Minnesota:
Minnesota is home to one National Hockey League (NHL) team: The Minnesota Wild. While the province doesn’t have any AHL or ECHL teams, they have several D1 college hockey teams and junior hockey teams.
What Hockey Teams Are in Minnesota?
There is only one NHL team in Minnesota. However, there are a wide variety of junior hockey teams and D1 and D2 College hockey teams.
You may be wondering… does Minnesota have a professional hockey team? The short answer is, yes! Minnesota has an NHL hockey team called the Minnesota Wild. They used to have the Minnesota North Stars but they were sold and moved to Dallas in 1993.
Minnesota doesn’t have an AHL team. The closest “Minnesotan” AHL team to cheer for would be the Iowa Wild which is the minor league affiliate team of the Minnesota Wild. They play out of Des Moines, Iowa.
Minnesota doesn’t have an East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) team. However, the closest team to cheer for would be the Iowa Heartlanders. They’re the mid-level affiliate to the AHL’s Iowa Wild and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. They play out of Coralville, Iowa.
Minnesota has a wide variety of junior hockey teams. However, the most prominent junior leagues in Minnesota are the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) and National American Hockey League (NAHL). These are both Tier II American hockey leagues with a handful of Minnesotan teams in each league.
Minnesota is home to a total of 6 college hockey teams in D1 and D2. Minnesota has two D1 teams and four D2 teams.
How Many Hockey Teams Are in Minnesota?
Minnesota, “the star of the north” has hundreds, if not thousands of ice hockey teams. However, in terms of professional hockey, the “land of 10,000 lakes” only has one professional ice hockey team: The Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota used to have another NHL team: The Minnesota North Stars. They Played in the NHL between 1967 to 1993 until they relocated to Dallas to become the Dallas Stars.
Beyond the NHL, Minnesota also has a wide variety of college hockey and junior teams.
How Many College Hockey Teams Are in Minnesota?
Wondering how many college hockey teams are in Minnesota? The short answer is there are 6 total college hockey teams that play in D1 and D2 hockey.
How Many D1 Hockey Teams Are in Minnesota?
So, how many division 1 hockey teams are in Minnesota?
There are only two D1 hockey teams in Minnesota:
- University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (D-I)
- University of St. Thomas Tommies (D-I)
How Many D2 Hockey Teams Are in Minnesota?
So, how many division 2 hockey teams are in Minnesota?
Here’s the full list:
- Bemidji State University Beavers (D-II)
- University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (D-II)
- Minnesota State University Mavericks (D-II)
- St. Cloud State University Huskies (D-II)
How Many High School Hockey Teams Are in Minnesota?
Minnesota is led by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHL). Within the league, there are 148 varsity teams. The teams are broken into 70 AA and 78 A high school teams that compete for the AA and A championships.
What Minnesota Junior Teams Are in the United States Pacific Hockey League (USPHL)?
One of the top junior hockey leagues in America is called the USPHL which is short for United States Premier Hockey League. Minnesota has several junior teams that play within the USPHL.
While the USPHL consists of Premier and Elite junior levels, Minnesota has 6 teams in the Premier level. This level is considered Tier III Junior Hockey. Several of these teams have an Elite team affiliation which is a Tier II team in the NCDC which is the National Collegiate Development Conference.
Here are the USPHL junior teams in Minnesota:
- Isanti Outlaws (Utica Jr. Comets – NCDC affiliate)
- Minnesota Blue Ox (New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs – NCDC affiliate)
- Minnesota Moose
- Minnesota Mullets (Jersey Hitmen – NCDC affiliate)
- Minnesota Squatch
- Steele County Blades (New Jersey Rockets – NCDC affiliate)
What Minnesota Junior Teams Are in the North American Hockey League (NAHL)?
Another top junior hockey league in the U.S. is called the NAHL which is short for North American Hockey League. Minnesota has several junior teams that play within the NAHL which is a Tier II junior hockey league.
Here are the teams:
- Austin Bruins
- St. Cloud Norsemen
- Minnesota Wilderness
What Minnesota Junior Teams Are in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL)?
Another junior hockey league in the U.S. is called the NA3HL which is short for North American 3 Hockey League. There are several Minnesotan teams that play within the NA3HL which is a Tier III junior hockey league.
Here are the teams:
- Rochester Grizzlies
- Alexandria Blizzard
- Granite City Lumberjacks
- Minnesota Loons
- New Ulm Steel
- Willmar WarHawks
When Did the Minnesota North Stars Leave Minnesota?
The Minnesota North Stars left Minnesota on April 13, 1993 to move to Dallas, Texas. The Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars at the start of the 1993-94 NHL season.
Wondering where the name “North Stars” came from? Minnesota state’s official nickname is called “the star of the north?” It comes from a French state motto, adopted in 1861, “l’étoile du nord.”
Why Did the Minnesota North Stars Leave Minnesota?
In 1991, Norman Green became the majority owner of the Minnesota Wild. However, by 1992, Green was already working hard to sell the team. He had originally planned to transform the team into the Los Angeles Stars in Anaheim. However, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were already underway to take over the Honda Center in Anaheim where he wanted to play.
Eventually, Green chose Dallas, Texas as the new location. On March 10, 1993, the decision was formally announced.
The reason the team moved?
Well, there are a few reasons why The North Stars moved to Dallas. The North Stars had pretty poor attendance after a few losing years. Due to years of low ticket sales, the North Stars were unable to reach an agreement for a new arena. On top of that, Norm Green’s wife had a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him. Apparently she threatened to leave him if he didnt’ move the team.
Eventually, the team was relocated to Dallas for the 1993-94 season as the Dallas Stars.
Is Minnesota a Big Hockey State?
Minnesota has had an NHL team for at least half of the past 100+ years of NHL history. In 1967, the NHL expanded with six new teams, including the Minnesota North Stars. In 1993, they disbanded. However, in 2000, “the star of the north” got a new NHL team: The Minnesota Wild.
Hockey has been a major part of Minnesota’s sports industry and culture as a whole for a long time. You may be wondering… just how popular is hockey in Minnesota?
Well, one way to find out is by looking at some data!
In 2022, WalletHub crunched the numbers to figure out what the most popular American cities were for hockey fans. In the study, they ranked 72 cities in the U.S. based on 21 key indicators of a “good” hockey city. Factors include things like stadium capacity, the performance of major teams, and ticket prices, among many others.
In 2022, St. Paul, Minnesota ranked 13th among 72 American cities, just behind Raleigh, North Carolina, and just ahead of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Minnesota had several other cities crack the top 72:
- Bemidji, MN (#44)
- Minneapolis, MN (#49)
- Mankato, MN (#56)
- Duluth, MN (#58)
- St. Cloud, MN (#61)
With 6 different cities in the top 72, Minnesota only trails three states: New York (11), Massachusetts (8), and Michigan (8).
Something to keep in mind with is population. New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan all crack the top 15 in terms of most populous states which plays a big role in how popular the sport is. On the other hand, Minnesota is the 22nd most populous. You could definitely make a case that Minnesota is a top 5 hockey state, maybe even top 4 or top 3.
So, the verdict is—yes—Minnesota is a big hockey state.
Why Is Hockey So Big in Minnesota?
So, now that we’ve covered that Minnesota is one of the most popular states for ice hockey, the question is… why?
Well, the first thing is that Minnesota is the 22nd most populous state. They have a population of 5.8 million people. The bigger the population of a state, the more access they’ll have to hockey, plain and simple, even if the geography isn’t suitable for outdoor ice hockey in the winter. Take California, for instance. They’re one of two states that has three NHL teams. Think about that… Three! The only other state that has three is New York.
California is the most populous state. Naturally, you’ll be hard pressed to find ice to play hockey on in the winter throughout the state. But, because they have such a high population, hockey is super accessible.
Minnesota’s decent-sized population helps them out.
The second thing Minnesota has is the climate. Being a northern state, there’s plenty of ice to go around every winter, making hockey accessible even if people can’t get to an official rink.
The third thing Minnesota has is its geography. Look at its nickname. It’s known as the “land of 10,000 lakes”. And… When you combine frosty winters with thousands of lakes, you’re bound to have easy access to pond hockey every year.
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).