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12 Best Hockey Colleges To Shape Your Career

By Biraj Khanal / 29 November 2023 10:01 AM

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Choosing the right hockey colleges is a crucial milestone for shaping the aspiring player's career as a hockey student-athlete.

More than 150 institutions provide varsity hockey programs for the students as it is in the student's hands to decide, how they want to take their athletic career in the near future.

The NCAA is divided into several divisions, with NCAA D1 schools being ranked higher. Universities like Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Denver, and Ohio State compete every year in the NCAA D1 tournaments.

The rankings are based on the proprietary analysis of NCSA data obtained from search activity among 5 million student-athletes on its recruiting network.

Factors like its achievements, recruiting networks, and success rate are also considered in order to choose among the best-ranked ones.

Princeton University

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  • Year Founded - 1746
  • Conference - ECAC Hockey
  • Head Coach - Ron Fogarty
  • Arena - Hobey Baker Memorial Rink

Princeton University was founded in 1746 and is one of the top Universities in D1 ice hockey rankings with its ice hockey program.

It is a private and suburban type of college and participates in the NCAA D1 championships including ECAC hockey and The Ivy League.

The University ice hockey team has won two ECAC championships and has reached two Frozen Fours with its charming and historic facility at Hobey Baker with 2,092 seatings.

Almost 8325 positions are open for enrollment for full-time undergraduates in an ice hockey program. 

The hockey team has also appeared in the NCAA tournament on three occasions. It received the automatic qualifying spot in 1998 ECAC, 2008, and 2018.

It has produced NHL players like Jeff Halpern, Kevin Westgarth, and Mike Condon and has a strong alumni network that helps you find your career path.

Harvard University

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  • Year Founded - 1636
  • Ice Hockey Team - Harvard Crimson Men's Hockey 
  • Conference - ECAC 
  • Head Coach - Ted Donato
  • Arena - Bright Landry Hockey Center

Harvard is one of the prestigious Universities with its 25,266 undergraduate and graduate students, 19,639 faculty and staff, and 400k alumni worldwide.

The Crimson hockey team participates in the ECAC hockey conference and has an enrollment seat of 21,090 for full-time undergraduates.

With its wider recruiting network, you can have exposure to several college programs including ice hockey where you get discovered and recruited after your performance analysis and capability.

The University's hockey team is considered one of the oldest college ice hockey teams in the US. The team has won 1 NCAA Tournament, 13 Frozen Four, and 29 NCAA tournament appearances.

It has also produced NHL players like Nick Abruzzese, Craig Adams, Alex Biega, and Colin Blackwell.

Harvard Alumni, Adam Fox started his NHL career as a Defenseman in 2019 with the New York Rangers.

University Of Denver

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  • Year Founded - 1864
  • Ice Hockey Team - Denver Pioneers
  • Conference - NCHC
  • Head Coach - David Carle
  • Arena - Magness Arena

Founded in 1864, Denver is ranked the third-best hockey college in the United States. They are the members of National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

The team also called the Pioneers, are tied with the Michigan Wolverines for the most all-time NCAA National Hockey Championship titles with nine.

Other championships include 15 Regular season champions and 14 Conference playoff Championships( 12 WCHA, 2NCHC).

The University program enrolls 5700 full-time undergrads through a wide range of recruiting procedures and networks. 

Alumni like Glenn Anderson, Danton Heinen, Cole Guttman, Dylan Gambrell, and Henrik Borgstrom are active NHL players who graduated from Denver.

University Of Michigan

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  • Year Founded - 1817
  • Ice Hockey Team - Michigan Wolverines
  • Conference - Big Ten
  • Head Coach - Brandon Naurato
  • Arena - Yost Ice Arena

The University Of Michigan is one of the oldest and the largest universities in Michigan and also a founding Association of American Universities member.

It consists of 19 colleges and degree programs at undergrad and graduate levels in almost 250 disciplines.

With 45,510 enrollment for full-time grads, the college desires to recruit one of the best hockey talents into its programs with its exclusive athletic recruiting network.

Meanwhile. the Wolverines are also the nine-time NCAA Tournament Champions and have more than 40 tournament appearances till 2023. They also have a total of 27 Frozen Four titles and 3 Big Ten titles with the latest coming in 2023.

NHL players including Matty Beniers, Red Berenson, Nick Blankenberg, Thomas Bordeleau, Kyle Conor, and Carl Hagelin are some of the former alumni who studied at Michigan.

Brown University

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  • Year Founded - 1764
  • Ice Hockey Team - Brown Bears Ice Hockey
  • Conference - Ivy League
  • Head Coach - Brendan Whittet
  • Arena - Meehan Auditorium Providence

Brown University ice hockey team is counted as the fifth-best D1 hockey college in the rankings. Its team participates in the NCAA and is a member of the ECAC Hockey Conference and Ivy League.

The Bears have won 3 Frozen Four titles, and four NCAA tournament appearances and are yet to win the major NCAA tournament trophy.

The University enrolls 9740 full-time undergrads into its 38 varsity intercollegiate teams competing in NCAA including ice hockey. 

Active NHL players like Garnet Hathaway, Sam Lafferty, and Mark Willman are also among the former Brown alumni who were recruited in college hockey programs.

University Of Notre Dame

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  • Year Founded - 1842
  • Ice Hockey Team - Notre Dame Fighting Irish Men's Ice Hockey
  • Conference - Big Ten, ACC
  • Head Coach - Jeff Jackson
  • Arena - Compton Family Ice Arena

The University Of Notre Dame stands sixth in the ice hockey college rankings. It is a catholic research university located in Notre Dame, Indiana, and is organized into 7 schools and colleges. 

The athletic teams including the ice hockey team the members of the NCAA D1 tournaments hosted across several sports.

Notre Dame further provides 8557 enrollments for full-time undergraduates in the ice hockey program.

Furthermore, the Fighting Irish team has won four Frozen Four, two times NCAA tournament runner-up, and 13 NCAA tournament appearances. They also have 2 Big Ten titles.

With the wide range of their recruiting network, they can connect to young talents and get effectively hired to their athletic programs. 

Players like Anders Bjork, Callahan Burke, Ian Cole, Jake Evans, and Steven Fogarty are among the NHL active players to have joined Notre Dame.

University Of Wisconsin

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  • Year Founded - 1848
  • Ice Hockey Team -Wisconsin Badgers
  • Conference - Big Ten
  • Head Coach - Mike Hastings
  • Arena - Kohl Center

Wisconsin stands at the sixth position based on the college hockey recruiting rankings and is one of the most prestigious institutions and also the largest public university in the state.

The Badgers have won 3 WCHA regular season conference titles and 11 tournament titles and have made 24 appearances in the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. They have also advanced to the Frozen Four 12 times.

Wisconsin has added Quinn Finley, who gets taken in the 3rd round by NY Islanders in 2022. 

Active NHL players, including Cole Caufield, Brian Elliot, and Trent Frederic, are some of the former alumni of Wisconsin.

Cornell University

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  • Year Founded - 1865
  • Ice Hockey Team - Cornell Big Red 
  • Conference - ECAC
  • Head Coach - Mike Schafer
  • Arena - Lynah Rink

Cornell University is organized into seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions with each defining its specific admission standards and academic programs.

Their ice hockey team is a member of the NCAA D1 college ice hockey program and competes in the ECAC hockey conference. They have 23 NCAA tournament appearances and have two NCAA tournament championship titles. 

The Big Red has a class that can rival Denver in terms of its depth with a class of 11 new joinings.

Standing in the top 10 in College ice hockey rankings recruits like Jonathan Castagna, Ryan Walsh, and Hoyt Stanley were drafted by the NHL team.

Other notable alumni include Cole Bardreau, Morgan Barron, Sean Collins, and Brian Hayward who joined NHL after their graduation.

Ohio State University

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  • Year Founded - 1870
  • Ice Hockey Team - Ohio State Buckeyes
  • Conference - Big Ten
  • Head Coach - Steve Rohlik
  • Arena - Value City Arena 

Ohio State University is counted as one of the largest in the world with an endowment gained over $7.4 billion in 2023.

It has over 1000 student organizations, intercollegiate, club, and recreational sports programs, and other athletic teams like football, basketball including ice hockey.

Their ice hockey division is a member of the Big Ten and have 10 NCAA tournament appearances so far. Around 42003 full-time undergrad enrollment seats are there regarding scholarships for ice hockey players as per NCSAsports.

Notable alumni include Zac Dalpe, Dave Gust, Dakota Joshua, and Tanner Laczynski who are now the active NHL players playing in the 2023-24 season.

Dartmouth College

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  • Year Founded - 1769
  • Ice Hockey Team - Dartmouth Big Green 
  • Conference - ECAC Hockey 
  • Head Coach - Reid Cashman
  • Arena - Thompson Arena

Dartmouth College is one of the nine colonial colleges and is the most prestigious undergraduate college in the United States.

With student enrollment of about 6700, the college stands as the smallest university in the Ivy League where undergrad admitants have a higher acceptance rate of 6% for the 2027 class including 4.5% for regular decision applicants.

The college further has fielded 30 intercollegiate varsity teams, 15 for men and 17 for women for NCAA tournaments across several sports.

The Ice hockey team won the ECAC regular season title in 2006 and the Ivy League 15 times.

Former Dartmouth players who played NHL include Drew O'Connor, Lee Stempniak, Carey Wilson, and J.T Wyman.

Michigan State University

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  • Year Founded - 1855
  • Ice Hockey Team - Michigan State Spartans Ice Hockey
  • Conference - Big Ten
  • Head Coach - Adam Nightingale
  • Arena - Munn Ice Arena

Michigan State University is one of the first land-grant colleges in the United States with the largest collegiate alumni network with 634,000 members.

The athletic teams compete in the NCAA Big Ten Conference in several sports including football, basketball, baseball, and ice hockey. 

The Spartans ice hockey has won 3 National titles in 1966,1986, and 2007 and have made 27 appearances. 

With a strong recruiting network and alumni members, the college succeeds in recruiting the best prospects for the high school helping to shape their career. 

NHL players including Torey Krug, John Michael Liles, Taro Hirose, Adam Hall, and Mason Appleton are some of the notable alumni of the University. 

Boston University

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  • Year Founded - 1839
  • Ice Hockey Team - Boston University Terriers
  • Conference - Hockey East
  • Head Coach - Jay Pandolfo
  • Arena - Agganis Arena

Boston College hockey rankings are 10th on the list with more than 4000 faculty members and nearly 34000 students.

BU athletic teams compete in the Patriot League and the Hockey East conference in the NCAA Division 1 tournaments. 

The ice hockey team has won five national championships while making 22 Frozen Four appearances.

They have also won 12 major conference tournament championships as well as 31 titles in the historic Beanpot tournament.

NHL players like Kieffer Bellows, Nick Bonino, Alex Chiasson, and Charlie Coyle are some of the alumni of the Boston currently playing in NHL 2023-24.

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