Is Omaha a Hockey Town?

When people think of Omaha, they imagine the home of Warren Buffet, farm landscapes, and a quiet lifestyle. But there’s more to this prosperous city than meets the eye. It’s a bustling community with plenty going on and a love for sports. Is Omaha a hockey town? Yes, it is. Thousands of residents love the sport and local teams with a firm place in regional and national competitions. The legendary Gordie Howe began his star-studded career in Omaha in the 1940s, and this momentum carried Omaha’s reputation as a hockey town into the 21st century.

Is Omaha a Hockey Town?

The University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks

UNO is home to the Mavericks, the pride and joy of Nebraska’s NCAA division hockey aspirations. The UNO Mavericks went to the NCAA tournament in 2006, 2011, 2015, and 2021. Their best year was 2015, when they made it to the “Frozen Four.” The team and head coach, Mike Gabinet, take to the ice in Baxter Arena every season and compete in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

This year, the UNO Mavericks played in the NCHA Frozen Faceoff championship and beat North Dakota for the fourth time.

The Omaha Lancers

This junior league hockey team is the pride of Nebraska and is part of the United States Hockey League, USHL Western Conference. The team’s inaugural season was in 1986.

The Lancers have a strong winning history. They have won fourteen championships, the most of any USHL franchise, and include a Junior National Championship. NHL Hall of Famers Luc Robitaille and Mario Lemieux partially own the team.

The team plays at the Liberty First Credit Union Arena in Ralston, Nebraska. The team previously played at Omaha Civic Auditorium. The Lancers moved from the venue in 2012 after the stadium couldn’t meet the $29 million maintenance requirement.

The Omaha Knights

This minor league hockey team played at the Ak-Sar-Ben Arena from 1959 to 1965 and 1966 to 1975. It competed in the International Hockey League (IHL). It moved to Toledo, Ohio, after the 1962-63 season and renamed the franchise The Toledo Blades. Pro hockey returned to Omaha in the 1966-67 season.

The Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc.

The Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1960 by Omaha Knight general manager Ken Wilson and Omaha World-Herald sportswriter Robert Phipps. It received the initial induction of Gordie Howe in 1961 but saw no other players admitted to the organization. Gary Anderson and Jim Semerad re-founded the organization in 2001.

The Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., features non-profit 501(c)3 status, donating more than $43,000 to charitable causes. Thirty players have been induction into the Hall of Fame since its reestablishment in 2001. Greg Zanon and Jeff Hoggan are the latest inductees in 2019.

The Hall of Fame issues the coveted “Motto McLean Service to Hockey Award.” The award is presented to individuals who significantly contribute to the sport of hockey in Nebraska. Jim Kresnik and Mark Hasebroock were the most recent award recipients in 2019.

Will Omaha Ever Get an NHL Team?

According to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Omaha is in the running to receive its own NHL franchise. The announcement came during an All-Star Weekend press conference. Omaha is one of the prospective cities to host an expansion team in the coming seasons.

Bettman listed Omaha and five others who expressed interest in becoming the home of a new NHL franchise. Also in the running for the expansion team is:

  • Atlanta
  • Houston
  • Salt Lake City
  • Kansas City
  • Cincinnati

There has been no official decision on which city will get the nod.

While pundits think Salt Lake is the strongest prospect for the new expansion team, there’s still hope that Omaha may see the unveiling of its first NHL team to grace the ice.

We must wait and see if Utah or Nebraska will get an NHL team. Omaha residents are excited and hopeful they will get a team to represent this jewel of Nebraska.

Recreational Hockey Opportunities in Omaha For Youth and Adults

Omaha is also a great place for recreational hockey for youth and adults. Omaha Hockey Club runs programs to teach those interested in hockey the skills they need to play. The goal is to instill the love of the game and the desire to continue at higher levels.

Currently, teams are available for boys and girls at all levels, starting as young as eight. This includes house teams, travel teams, and High School teams.

Adults in Omaha can enjoy playing hockey as well.  Hockeyfinder and MCHL-Metro Classic Hockey League have teams based on skill level.

In Conclusion- Is Omaha A Hockey Town?

The answer is clear! YES!

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