While the original home of ice hockey was well north of the border in Canada, it didn’t take very long for the sport to take off in the US. So, by 1894 the country’s very first artificial rink was opened in Baltimore.
Since then, the sport has hardly looked back. Today there are no less than 25 teams based in the country where it continues to hold its place as the fourth most popular sport after football, basketball, and netball.
The trophy that every team wants to claim as its own at the end of each season is the prestigious Stanley Cup whose current holders, the Vegas Golden Knights, come from a state where you might expect ice to be the last substance you’d find.
So it’s obvious that the sport has also developed away from its Mid-West and North West heartlands to embrace all areas of the country.
It’s Minnesota that is said to be the country’s capital of the sport, not least for its famous development program that has led to over 50,000 Minnesotans playing the sport regularly.
Many states have a team but there are some notable exceptions such as Wyoming, Vermont, and Virginia.
The latter does have a team that has its training facilities in the state, the Washington Capitals, and hockey fans can also take advantage of the fact that sports betting is available in Virginia. As to which US teams to bet on, there are five that immediately catch the eye.
Vegas Golden Knights
Let’s start with the current holders of the Stanley Cup. This season they continue to lead the way in the Western Conference. All the signs are looking good that this could be a season when they pull of the ultimate victory again.
With leading players like Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson their squad has real strength in depth. What’s all the more remarkable is that they were only formed in 2017 as an expansion team so, in just six years, they have certainly come a long, long way.
Coming fairly hot on their heels in the Western Conference are the team for the state that’s well known for its winter sports. Originally based in Quebec, it wasn’t until 1995 that the Avalanche headed down south. Since then, they have had many ups and downs.
But in 2022 they became the Stanley Cup champions, beating Tampa Bay Lightning and they continue to be on a high. Last season they were rather plagued by injuries, but the arrival of players like Ryan Johansen and Tomas Tatar has put them in a strong position once again, much to the delight of fans.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils enjoyed their best season ever over 2022–23 winning 52 games, a franchise record, and notching up 112 points. Considering that the previous season they had only mustered 63 this went down as a the most impressive improvement by any team in the history of the NHL.
There is a great reliance on young players, and it certainly seems to be paying off. Great things are predicted for names like Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and Nico Hisch who go to make one of the most effective offense units in the entire NHL.
No US-based NHL team has quite as long and distinguished history as the Boston Bruins. That’s because, back in 1924, they became the very first of the country’s teams to join the league. Today they still score very highly in the popularity poll of hockey teams thanks to their highly entertaining style of play.
Team stars include David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand while in defence Charlie McAvoy, Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark make them a team that is exceptionally hard to score against. This season they’re fighting for dominance of the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers and have to be a near dead-cert for the playoffs.
In the Central Division, the Dallas Stars are battling it out with the Colorado Avalanche to be top dogs, and they’re certainly nipping at their heels. Jason Robertson is the team’s big star and a real goal-scoring machine.
But at the other end of the rink, the goalie Jake Oettinger makes sure that the difference between goals scored and those conceded remains wide. They were looking exceptionally good in last season’s playoffs until the Golden Knights stopped them in their tracks. So they’ll be even more hungry for success this season.
Of course, this isn’t to disregard the 20 other MHL teams based in the US. Most have their strong points, and all have their devoted followers. But for sheer ability and potential, these are the five that few could deny standing head and shoulders above the rest.