North Dakota is one of the biggest hockey states in America.
With freezing temperatures every winter and plenty of frozen lakes and ponds to skate on, ice hockey is a big deal in the Flickertail state.
In this article, I’ll show you what pro hockey teams are in North Dakota and what college and junior teams compete in the state (including three D1 hockey teams).
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 Connecticut, What Hockey Team Is in Arizona, and What Hockey Team Is in Pennsylvania.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s What Hockey Teams Are In North Dakota:
While North Dakota doesn’t have an NHL or AHL team, they do have plenty of high-level hockey. These are the top college and junior hockey teams in ND:
- University of North Dakota Grand Forks (D1)
- Minot State University (D1)
- University of Jamestown (D1)
- Fargo Force (Tier I Junior)
- Bismarck Bobcats (Tier II Junior)
- Minot Minotauros (Tier II Junior)
Does North Dakota Have a Hockey Team?
Yes, North Dakota has several ice hockey teams. However, they don’t have any pro teams as the state’s hockey market isn’t there due to a small population (811,000 people.
North Dakota still has competitive hockey all over the state (including a variety of high-level teams).
Here are the top hockey teams in North Dakota:
- University of North Dakota Grand Forks (D1 College Hockey)
- Minot State University (D1 College Hockey)
- University of Jamestown (D1 College Hockey)
- Fargo Force (Tier I Junior Hockey)
- Bismarck Bobcats (Tier II Junior Hockey)
- Minot Minotauros (Tier II Junior Hockey)
Does North Dakota Have an NHL Team?
So, will you find an NHL hockey team in North Dakota?
The short answer is, no. Despite having some of the most die hard hockey fans (and players), the state is simply too small to have an NHL team, let alone any major sports team. The population is only 811,000. To put it in perspective, a state like California who has 3 NHL teams has a population of 39 million (which is 48 times the size of North Dakota).
North Dakotans typically cheer for the Minnesota Wild in the NHL since they’re the closest American team (just neighboring them to the east).
What NHL Team Does North Dakota Root For?
North Dakota doesn’t have a team in the National Hockey League (NHL). But, that’s no reason to stop cheering for an NHL team.
So, what NHL team is popular in North Dakota?
It’s simple: The Minnesota Wild.
They’re the closest geographical team to North Dakota (in America). The runner-up here would be the Winnipeg Jets in Manitoba (just northwest of the Canada/U.S. border).
However, most NHL fans in the Flickertail State would be loyal to the Wild over the Jets.
What Hockey Teams Are in North Dakota?
So, what hockey teams are in Indiana? The Hoosier State has three professional hockey teams and several junior and college teams as listed below:
Unfortunately, North Dakota doesn’t have an NHL team. NHL fans in North Dakota typically cheer for the Minnesota Wild since Minnesota is their neighbor state to the East.
D1, D2, D3 College Hockey
Of all hockey, North Dakota’s college hockey offers the most variety to watch. The state has a variety of college hockey teams within D1 and D2 levels that compete within the NCAA and ACHA:
- University of North Dakota Grand Forks (NCAA Men’s D1)
- Minot State University (ACHA Men’s D1)
- University of Jamestown (ACHA Men’s D1)
- Dakota College (ACHA Men’s D2)
- University of Mary (ACHA Men’s D2)
- North Dakota State University (ACHA Men’s D2)
- Minnesota State University Moorhead (ACHA Men’s D2)
There are a total of three junior ice hockey team in North Dakota: The three teams compete within different leagues including the United States Hockey League (USHL) and the North American Hockey League (NAHL):
- Fargo Force (USHL Tier I)
- Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL Tier II)
- Minot Minotauros (NAHL Tier II)
Is There High School Hockey in North Dakota?
Yes, North Dakota’s primary high school hockey system is the North Dakota High School Boys Hockey program. North Dakota’s high school hockey program first began in 1966. The first team to win was Grand Forks Central High School. They still hold the most championships to this day with a total of 29 North Dakota high school hockey titles.
There are 19 high school hockey clubs broken up into two regions: West and East.
- Bismarck High
- Bismarck Legacy
- Bismarck Century
- Grand Forks Central
- Grand Forks Red River
- Fargo North
- Fargo Davies
- West Fargo
- Grafton/Park River
- Fargo South/ Shanley
- West Fargo Sheyenne
- Devils Lake
Is Hockey Popular in North Dakota?
Curious whether or not North Dakota is a big hockey state?
Well, overall, it can be easy to think hockey isn’t that big in North Dakota since they don’t have a single pro hockey team (while other states like California and New York have three NHL teams each).
But, the truth is that North Dakota is a huge hockey state. The problem compared to places like Florida (which has two NHL teams) is that these other states are massive compared to North Dakota.
North Dakota is ranked 47th in population among U.S. states, only ahead of Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. So, there’s no big surprise that they don’t have a pro ice hockey team, let alone any major sports team. Their population is only 811,000!
However, when ranking the best cities in America for a hockey fan, North Dakota is still up there!
In 2022, WalletHub crunched the numbers to determine which hockey cities were best for ice hockey fans. In the study, WalletHub ranked the top 72 cities in America. They used 21 key indicators of what made a city a “good” hockey city. Some indicators included ticket prices, stadium capacity, and the performance of major teams, among many other things.
North Dakota had one city that ranked in the top 72. Grand Forks, North Dakota came in at number 25!
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).