Here in the United States, it’s clear we have a favorite cold-weather pastime. According to current sports streaming trends in the U.S., ice hockey remains one of the most-streamed sports in the U.S. Football may get the bulk of attention during the crisp fall months. Still, sports fans can rest assured that once football season ends, the fun can continue with hours of hockey coverage.
Virginia probably doesn’t even cross your mind when you think about your favorite NHL hockey teams. Even though Virginia doesn’t have a professional hockey team, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy this beloved sport. Here are the local teams that will help you get your hockey fix.
The Norfolk Admirals
In case you don’t already know, the National Hockey League (NHL) isn’t the only league in the game. The Norfolk Admirals, based out of Norfolk, Virginia, is part of what was originally known as the East Coast Hockey League which now, according to the league, goes exclusively by the abbreviation ECHL. Founded in 1988, the ECHL is a mid-tier professional league with teams throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The Norfolk Admirals are relatively new on the scene, making their first appearance in the 2015-2016 season. However, this team has been around in various forms since 1989, making appearances in multiple hockey leagues throughout its history.
For instance, from 2000-2015, the Admirals played out of Norfolk, Virginia, in the American Hockey League (AHL). In 2016, that team moved to California, and the current Norfolk Admirals moved in.
The Norfolk Admirals are affiliated with the Carolina Hurricanes — the seventh affiliation the team has had during its history. This year promises exciting games with new talents like Danny Katic and Kenny Hausinger joining the team for the upcoming season. You can catch the Norfolk Admirals at the start of their season on October 21, 2022, and follow them through the conclusion of their 72-game season in April.
The Washington Capitals
Though technically not in Virginia, the NHL Washington Capitals play out of Washington D.C., right in Virginia’s backyard. Because it’s so close to home, many people in Virginia follow the Capitals and consider them “their” team.
Even the casual hockey follower will likely recognize names like Alexander Ovechkin — one of the greatest goal scorers in the NHL. With nearly 20 years of his career spent with the Caps, he’s a beloved hockey icon who made such an impact during the first few years with the Capitals that he signed a 13-year extension worth $124 million in 2008. In 2021, he signed another 5-year contract with the Capitals.
The last few years have brought many record-setting moments for Ovechkin and the Capitals and some severe disappointments. You can cheer them on and see what the season holds in store for them, with preseason games starting in late September. If this season is like some of their others in recent history, you may just get to follow them to the Stanley Cup.
Virginia Tech Ice Hockey
In Virginia, professional hockey isn’t your only option. Many of the universities in Virginia have established ice hockey teams and clubs. This includes Virginia Tech, which hosts a D2 team with a nearly 40-year history at the university.
Last season, the VT hockey coach logged his 150th win as the Hokies’ head coach. This season, which is already underway, features many younger players in their first or second year. Of course, veteran players are also on the roster, but seeing the new talent develop and blossom with a young team like this is just as much of a draw as seeing who wins the matchups.
And of Course – The Roanoke Yard Dawgs
The Rail Yard Dawgs are the fifth professional hockey team to call the Roanoke Valley home, following the Roanoke Valley Rebels of the Eastern Hockey League and later the Southern Hockey League (1967–1976), the Virginia Lancers/Roanoke Valley Rebels/Rampage (1983–1993) and the Roanoke Express of the East Coast Hockey League (1993–2004), and the Roanoke Valley Vipers of the United Hockey League (2005–2006).
In a manner similar to previous Berglund Center attendants, the Roanoke Express and Roanoke Steam, the Rail Yard Dawgs name and logo pay tribute to the region’s railroad heritage. The city has a long history as a railroad hub and the Berglund Center is in close proximity to the nearby Roanoke Shops and train lines operated by Norfolk Southern Railway, as well as the recently completed Roanoke Amtrak Station. This rail history is further exemplified by the presence of railroad tracks on the team logo.
Hockey Isn’t Just for the Northeast
Ice hockey teams and talent seem to thrive in places where the winters are cold. That doesn’t mean you can’t live in a more temperate climate like Virginia and still enjoy some good hockey games. And, you don’t need a big-time NHL team to get in the zone and watch a killer game of hockey.
You can watch any of these teams live, of course, but with all the streaming platforms available now, you can just as quickly catch those games that used to be hard to find broadcasted from the comfort of your couch — or wherever you happen to be when that next game starts.