When it comes to the best place for a hockey fan to live — whether it be college, the NHL or the minor leagues — nowhere in America is it better than in Grand Forks, N.D.
That's the conclusion of a newly released ranking conducted by a New York City-based company that crunches data across a broad spectrum of personal finance decisionmaking.
The home of the University of North Dakota topped all other communities in SmartAsset's ranking that combines scores for "fan intensity" with "quality of life."
Fan intensity was measured by looking at per-game hockey attendance as a percentage of total population and Google search traffic that includes the word "hockey." Quality of life took into account crime, disposable income, unemployment, and dining and entertainment.
Rounding out the top 10, in order and with their primary hockey attraction in parentheses, are Hanover, N.H. (Dartmouth, NCAA); Lewiston, N.Y. (Niagara, NCAA); Glen Falls, N.Y. (Adirondack Flames, AHL); Houghton, Mich. (Michigan Tech, NCAA); Hershey, Pa. (Hershey Bears, AHL); Fairbanks, Alaska (Alaska-Fairbanks, NCAA); Marquette, Mich. (Northern Michigan, NCAA); Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL); and Duluth (Minnesota, Duluth, NCAA).
"Judging by their Google search traffic, they care more about hockey then they do about food," SmartAsset said in releasing its findings online. "Grand Forks was one of just four cities in which residents clocked more Internet searches for hockey than for food."
With the 12,000-seat Ralph Engelstad Arena routinely packed in a city of 55,000, Grand Forks also scored well in SmartAsset's analysis of attendance in comparison to population.
UND is "one of college hockey's true powerhouse programs," SmartAsset continued in its report, pointing out the school's many conference titles, NCAA championships and Frozen Four appearances. "Add to that list of accolades some of the most faithful fans in the country and a lovely (if cold) college town setting, and you have America's Best Hockey Town."
Two other Minnesota cities sneaked into the top 20. Bemidji (Bemidji State, NCAA) was 18th, and St. Paul (Minnesota Wild, NHL) ranked 20th. Absent was Minneapolis (Minnesota, NCAA), St. Cloud (St. Cloud State, NCAA) and Mankato (Minnesota State, Mankato, NCAA).
To read the complete rundown, visit https://smartasset.com/insights/americas-best-hockey-towns.