Are you a hockey fan? If so, have you ever wondered how many D1 hockey teams are out there? Well, wonder no more! We’ve got the answer right here.
If you’re unfamiliar with college sports, D1 refers to the highest level of competition in NCAA athletics. So, when we talk about D1 hockey teams, we’re talking about the cream of the crop.
In this article, we’ll give you a rundown on just how many D1 hockey teams exist in the United States. We’ll also delve into some interesting facts and figures surrounding these elite squads.
“Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like pimps.” -Tiger Woods
The world of D1 hockey is filled with incredible talent, passionate fans, and thrilling games. Whether you’re a diehard follower of the sport or looking to learn something new, this article will provide you with all the information you need.
So strap on your skates, grab your stick, and let’s explore the exciting world of D1 hockey!
The NCAA Division I Hockey Landscape
College sports have become incredibly popular in recent years, as Americans love cheering on their favorite teams and schools. One of the most exciting sports is undoubtedly ice hockey, with its fast-paced gameplay, hard hits, and incredible skill. But how many D1 hockey teams are there? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
The number of D1 Men’s Hockey teams
As of the 2020-2021 season, there are currently 60 men’s Division I ice hockey teams in the United States. These teams are spread out across the country, with schools from Maine to Alaska fielding competitive squads. In addition, there are also six Canadian universities that compete in the NCAA as part of the D1 men’s hockey landscape.
The history of college hockey in America dates back to the early 1900s when Harvard took on Brown in what many consider to be the first intercollegiate game played in the US. Since then, the sport has grown in popularity and prestige, thanks in large part to the success of traditional powerhouses like Boston University, Michigan State, and North Dakota.
But it’s not only these big-name programs that are making an impact in the world of college hockey. Smaller schools like American International College, Bemidji State, and Holy Cross are all competing at a high level and giving fans plenty to cheer about.
The number of D1 Women’s Hockey teams
Women’s college hockey may not get quite as much attention as the men’s game, but it’s every bit as exciting and fun to watch. As of the 2020-2021 season, there are currently 41 women’s Division I ice hockey teams in the United States – not too far behind the men’s number.
The women’s game has had its own legacy of success, with programs like the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin capturing national titles over the years. In recent years, there’s been a surge in interest in women’s hockey, with more and more young girls taking up the sport and aspiring to compete at the Division I level.
D1 Hockey’s impact on college sports
The NCAA Division I hockey landscape may not be as large or well-known as that of football or basketball, but it still plays an important role in the world of college athletics. For one thing, it offers yet another opportunity for schools to attract talented athletes, many of whom might not have considered a particular institution were it not for their competitive ice hockey program.
In addition, D1 hockey gives fans an exciting and unique sporting event to attend. While the NHL is undoubtedly popular across the US and Canada, there’s something special about rooting for your school and watching your favorite players grow and develop over time. This connection to the teams and players can lead to lifelong fandoms and strong emotional ties.
“Collegiate hockey provides a unique experience for student-athletes that’s extremely valuable. The combination of elite-level athletic competition with exceptional academics creates a comprehensive, highly challenging experience emphasizing both success and personal growth.” -Dr. Penny Semaia, Vice President for Athletics, Merrimack College
While D1 hockey may not be as high-profile as some other college sports, it’s still an incredibly exciting and enjoyable part of the NCAA landscape. So next time you’re looking for something fun to do on a chilly winter night, consider heading down to your local college rink and cheering on your favorite team!
The Number of Men’s and Women’s D1 Hockey Teams
D1 hockey teams are considered the cream of the crop in college hockey. In total, there are 60 men’s D1 hockey programs across the United States, with an additional six National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Independent schools that do not play conference schedules. Each team is comprised of roughly 25 players. On the other hand, there are only thirty-five women’s D1 teams by comparison. According to the NCAA, there are just over 1,200 student-athletes playing women’s ice hockey at the Division I level.
The growth of D1 Men’s Hockey teams over time
NCAA men’s ice hockey has grown considerably in recent times. The number of NCAA men’s ice hockey programs rose from a low of 33 before the turn of the century to nearly double that amount today. There has been significant growth since then, with eight new programs joining the NCAA ranks between 2020 and 2022 alone.
“This wave of institutionals adding varsity hockey shows how strong our sport truly is,” said Mike Snee, Executive Director of College Hockey Inc. “It also provides more opportunities for prospective student-athletes and coaches who want to make their careers in college hockey.”
Most recently Long Island University (LIU), LIU Post, Presbyterian College, St. Thomas, Lindenwood-Belleville, and Lawrence Technological University have announced they will add men’s collegiate hockey programs within the next few years.Source
The growth of D1 Women’s Hockey teams over time
The growth of women’s college hockey at the Division I level has been significantly slower than men’s. The first NCAA Women’s Frozen Four was held in 2001, with just eight teams vying for a national title. In the intervening years, there have been ebbs and flows to its popularity across the country. Currently, 33 schools field teams that compete as members of NCAA Division I conferences.
“There are challenges associated with building new programs from scratch,” Harlan Pratt, Colgate Athletic Director said three years ago when discussing a movement by ECAC Hockey member schools adding women’s ice hockey.” “But we strongly believe there will be benefits both for our program and the University as a whole.” Source
The benefits of having both men’s and women’s D1 Hockey teams
Having both men’s and women’s programs brings an array of benefits to colleges’ campuses and beyond. Coaches agree that athletic participation is good for student-athletes regardless of gender or sport. For example, it has proven repeatedly that athletes fare best academically when they have structure and community support provided by their team. Then there’s the economic impact of sports facility construction and game day expenses on local tourism-related businesses.
“It builds this camaraderie among students,” says Massachusetts Democratic Representative Chynah Tyler. “I think anytime you can get school spirit into the equation, our entire educational system improves.”
Athletic competition also fosters potential future professional careers beyond playing themselves; Many who might never play pro go on to become coaches, trainers, agents, broadcasters, analysts, journalists, statisticians, and more. Hence having both men’s and women’s teams creates career pathways directly tied to college hockey.
The growth of NCAA Hockey has undeniably been a significant win for everyone involved. With the continued proliferation of D1 ice hockey programs showing no signs of slowing down, we can only hope that programs will continue to spread throughout North America, giving players even more opportunities to play at this elite level people have grown to love and cheer on!
The Top D1 Hockey Conferences in the Nation
The strongest D1 Hockey conferences in terms of performance
One of the most important factors that determine the competitiveness of a hockey conference is how its teams perform on the ice. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recognizes six Division 1 men’s hockey conferences.
According to the NCAA, the conferences with the strongest average Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) during the 2020-21 season were:
- National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC)
- Big Ten Conference
- Hockey East Association
The RPI measures a team’s winning percentage and strength of schedule, including opponents’ record and opponents’ opponents’ record as well as location of the games played. Therefore, a higher RPI indicates stronger opposition faced by a team.
“Statistically, the NCHC was the toughest league in college hockey despite playing an uneven number of conference games amongst the eight teams.” -Carl Berglind, General Manager at Rink Net
The most competitive D1 Hockey conferences
In addition to performance, parity among teams makes a conference more exciting to watch for fans. A highly competitive conference features several strong teams that can beat each other any given night.
Determining which conference is the most competitive is not always easy since there are different ways to define “competitive.”
One approach could be to look at the number of upsets that occur within the conference. An upset happens when a lower-ranked team defeats a higher-ranked team.
Some of the top underdog victories from the past seasons include:
- 2019-20 season: American International College, seeded 4th in the Atlantic Hockey Conference tournament, won it all by upsetting top-seed Sacred Heart University and ultimately punching its ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.
- 2018-19 season: Robert Morris University defeated Air Force Academy in double overtime of Game 3 of their quarterfinals series to advance to the semifinals. No. 1 seed AIC fell to Rochester Institute of Technology in the semis, and Niagara University upended RIT to claim the Atlantic Hockey championship.
The conferences that have seen the most upsets recently are:
- National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC)
- Hockey East Association
- Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA)
“The NCHC is consistently one of the strongest conferences in college hockey featuring some of the best teams in the country each year.” -Chris Dilks, Senior Writer at SB Nation College Hockey
The conferences with the most D1 Hockey teams
Different factors can influence how many teams are in a conference, such as geography, institutional affiliation, and historical ties. Since more teams mean more games, more rivalries, and more chances to qualify for postseason play, larger conferences tend to be favored over smaller ones.
The conferences that currently have the most D1 men’s hockey programs are:
- Big Ten Conference (7 teams)
- Atlantic Coast Conference (6 teams)
- Hockey East Association (11 teams)
It should be noted that the Ivy League schools–Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, and Yale University–do not participate in postseason tournaments due to their academic policies. Therefore, these schools are called “independents” instead of belonging to a specific conference.
“Having more teams allows for dynamic and exciting schedules with plenty of national-caliber matchups throughout the season.” -Jashvina Shah, Senior Writer at The Ice Garden
The History of D1 Hockey and Its Growth Over Time
D1 hockey is the top level of collegiate hockey in the United States. It’s a division that has roots dating back to the early 20th-century but underwent significant changes that shaped it into what we have today. Let’s take a closer look at how many D1 hockey teams there are, where they came from, their impact on college sports culture, and their role in developing professional hockey players.
The origins of D1 Hockey in the United States
Hockey’s history in the United States dates back to the late 1800s when Canadian immigrants began playing the game while settling in New England. In 1904, seven colleges formed the first-ever collegiate ice hockey league – the Intercollegiate Hockey Association(IHA). Harvard University was crowned as IHA’S inaugural champion in 1905, and other universities slowly started to form their own leagues over time.
It wasn’t until the formation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1910-11 that college hockey officially took off. The NCAA governed all “big-time” intercollegiate athletic competitions, including basketball, football, track, and field, but ice hockey was not included in its initial list of sanctioned sports. Eventually, ice hockey gained recognition and received official support from the NCAA in 1948, giving birth to modern-era of college hockey for Division 1.
The impact of D1 Hockey on college sports culture
The popularity of college hockey has flourished with each passing year, since we see more fans following this sport now than ever before. The enthusiasm and passion exhibited by fans, alumni, students, and athletes, gives credence to the fact that D1 hockey has undeniably become one of the prominent sports that has its own unique culture.
College hockey players also receive unparalleled exposure, especially on campuses where they’re given celebrity treatment and get to interact with fans young and old alike. Furthermore, college hockey tournaments have become an annual prime-time event where national championships are contested between top-ranked teams. The Frozen Four is considered as the biggest stage for D1 Hockey where four final contenders compete to be named NCAA champions.
The role of D1 Hockey in developing professional hockey players
D1 hockey continues to be significant feeder system for professional hockey leagues like the NHL- National Hockey League, ECHL-East Coast Hockey League, AHL-American Hockey League just to mention a few. Over 33% of all NHL players are former collegiate athletes who honed their skills on college ice rinks before ascending to the highest level.
Your path to pro could involve playing junior hockey programs or league teams, but the extra development guaranteed at college level, combined with education provided by university institutions, give these students opportunities beyond the game of hockey. Student-athletes graduating from elite academic institutions around the US help set themselves up for life after sports, creating paths that keep them enriched well into retirement. Players enrolled within these major colleges develop not only their technical ability and athletic potential while gaining networking contacts that can last throughout their career.
“The number of high-level prospects coming out of the NCAA has improved over recent years” – Bob McKenzie, TSN hockey analyst
D1 hockey’s growth is evident when you look at how many people watch and attend games each year compared to decades ago. Players now gain valuable experience every time they step onto the ice, no matter what team they play for. Last but certainly not least, the possibility of being drafted into highly competitive Professional Leagues, whilst enjoying the potential of a top-class education and life prospects – it’s no wonder D1 hockey continues to grow year on year.
How D1 Hockey Teams Are Ranked and Selected for Post-Season Play
The criteria for D1 Hockey team rankings
Each week, the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll ranks the top 20 NCAA ice hockey teams. The poll takes into account a variety of factors, including win-loss records, strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups, and overall performance throughout the season.
In addition to this national ranking system, there are dozens of regional polls that local media outlets use to assess the best teams in their area. These polls help determine the at-large bids for post-season tournaments like the NCAA Championships.
The selection process for the NCAA D1 Hockey Tournament
The NCAA Championship tournament consists of 16 teams, with six conference champions earning automatic bids and ten remaining spots going to at-large teams.
The committee responsible for selecting and seeding these teams uses a complex algorithm that considers everything from RPI (ratings percentage index) to head-to-head results against other potential tournament teams. They also take into account injuries, key roster changes, and individual player performances when making their decisions. It’s important to remember that the selection process is not an exact science, and there is always some level of subjectivity involved.
The role of conference championships in post-season play
Conference championships play a significant role in determining which teams will earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships. If a team wins their conference tournament, they’re guaranteed a spot in the post-season even if they didn’t perform well during the regular season.
Some critics argue that this system unfairly rewards mediocre teams at the expense of more deserving squads who had tough schedules or played in highly competitive conferences. Others believe that the conference championship system makes the season more exciting, with fringe teams battling for their playoff lives each week.
The controversy surrounding D1 Hockey team rankings and selection
“There is no perfect formula for ranking college hockey teams, but RPI is the best objective measure available.” -Greg Wyshynski, ESPN Senior Writer
Despite the efforts of fans and media to simplify the process, there are always debates about which teams should earn at-large bids, who was under-seeded or over-seeded, and whether certain conferences are given preferential treatment by the selection committee. In recent years, the debate has been amplified by social media, with coaches, players, and fans all weighing in on each decision as it’s announced.
The post-season selection process remains an imperfect science, but one that many believe adds excitement and unpredictability to an already thrilling sport.
The Future of D1 Hockey and Its Potential Expansion
Hockey has always been a sport that is highly influenced by tradition. However, as the years go by, many changes have occurred in college hockey that could eventually lead to significant shifts in its landscape. One of these changes is the potential expansion of Division 1 (D1) hockey outside of its current and traditional regions.
The potential for D1 Hockey to expand to new regions and conferences
Currently, there are 60 colleges or universities that are members of the NCAA’s Division 1 men’s ice hockey teams. Most schools are located in the Northeast, Midwest, and some parts of Texas. However, with other parts of the country showing increasing interest in hockey, there is great potential for D1 programs to emerge elsewhere.
The Western Athletic Conference (WAC), which includes several universities from California, New Mexico, and Utah, has started sponsoring men’s and women’s hockey programs, making them one of the only non-traditional regions participating at this level so far. Additionally, Arizona State University has shown sizable progress since joining NCAA Division I men’s hockey after playing as an independent during their first few seasons. Recently, Long Island University launched their men’s and women’s hockey program, becoming the only D1 team based out of New York City. The Atlantic Hockey Association is already taking notice and adding LIU to their expanding conference beginning in the 2020-21 season.
The impact of potential expansion on the D1 Hockey landscape
New programs mean continued growth in the sport, which can enhance the overall fan experience by either attracting new fans or giving existing ones more opportunities to support their favorite teams regionally. It also means additional exposure to communities that typically do not watch live hockey games. There is no doubt that the game would benefit from increased regional stability, as far too many teams now travel hundreds or thousands of miles to play games.
Regional rivalries could form and bring additional revenue to college hockey programs. The Big Ten Hockey Conference has been successful so far in building strong fan bases with easy regional travelling for its members- Ohio State University, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State University, Minnesota, Notre Dame (affiliate member). Likewise, if more conferences and leagues were formed around specific regions of the United States, it is possible the sport can continue to grow not only regionally but nationally.
The challenges facing D1 Hockey expansion efforts
If there is one major challenge D1 Hockey faces when expanding aggressively, it’s that the talent pool among players might not increase at the same rate as the number of new schools emerging. It means each team’s rosters may suffer quality due to restricted recruiting for newer school’s programs, lack of preferable location & facilities choices for incoming student-athletes.
Additionally, founding a men’s hockey program needs big investments. This includes resources, enrolling experienced coaching staff, dedicated training facilities, funding robust scholarships, and meeting Title IX requirements by establishing equitable women’s sports programs. Schools must be selective about jumping to Division I given these hefty expenses and whether they have enough administration support behind the decisions allowing them to execute successfully.
“I think you’re going to start seeing some scattered development,” Mike Snee, Executive Director of College Hockey Inc said in an interview last year published on USCHO. “You’re going to see Arizona State and others outside their footprint. Is LIU sustainable? Can they attract anyone? We need to know those answers before we see sustained growth, though.”
Despite potential obstacles, hockey fans are excited to hear positive discussions of collegiate ice hockey spreading to other parts of the United States beyond traditional areas. Expanding the sport might take trial and error, but there is no doubt that it will contribute to a healthier state of college hockey programs throughout the nation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Division 1 Men’s Ice Hockey Teams Are There?
There are currently 60 Division 1 men’s ice hockey teams in the United States. Teams are divided into conferences based on their geographical location.
How Many Division 1 Women’s Ice Hockey Teams Are There?
There are currently 41 Division 1 women’s ice hockey teams in the United States. These teams are also divided into conferences based on their location.
How Many Division 1 Ice Hockey Conferences Are There?
There are currently 6 Division 1 ice hockey conferences in the United States. These conferences are Atlantic Hockey, Big Ten, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East, NCHC, and WCHA.
How Many NCAA Ice Hockey Championships Have Been Won by Division 1 Teams?
There have been a total of 74 NCAA ice hockey championships won by Division 1 teams. The University of Michigan has won the most championships, with 9 titles.
How Many Division 1 Ice Hockey Teams Are There in Each Conference?
The number of Division 1 ice hockey teams in each conference varies. As of the 2021-2022 season, Atlantic Hockey has 11 teams, Big Ten has 7 teams, ECAC Hockey has 12 teams, Hockey East has 11 teams, NCHC has 8 teams, and WCHA has 10 teams.
How Many Division 1 Ice Hockey Teams Are There in the United States?
There are a total of 101 Division 1 ice hockey teams in the United States, including both men’s and women’s teams. These teams are spread out across 6 different conferences.