While Iowa doesn’t get the same recognition for hockey as its northern neighbor, the Hawkeye State’s connections to the game are deep. Iowa is also home to a number of professional and semi-pro teams and you can catch a game in just about any corner of the state.
So allow me to tell you about some of Iowa’s cool hockey teams and to answer the question on everyone’s mind: Could I beat that team’s mascot in a 100-meter dash? (Note: I have never skated, which is why we’re doing a foot race. Also, I love the variety of mascots in lower-level sports leagues!)
Founded in 1962, the Waterloo Black Hawks play in the US Hockey League (USHL), the highest junior hockey league. In the UHL, the Black Hawks face off with several Iowa rivals like the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Dubuque Fighting Saints, and the Des Moines Buccaneers for a chance at the Dupaco Community Credit Union Cowbell Cup. The Black Hawks have had 36 former players play in the NHL. This talented team has won the Clark Cup, the playoff title, and three Anderson Cups, the regular season title.
The Black Hawks play home games at Waterloo’s Young Arena and some great upcoming promotions include Superhero Night on Jan. 6, Star Wars Night on Jan. 28, and Black Hawks Dog Bandana Night Giveaway on February 25.
100-Meter Dash: Easily. Tommy Hawk is a bird. No chance with those puny legs.
The Musketeers have played in Sioux City since 1972 and call the Tyson Events Center home. The franchise has won three Anderson Cups and four Clark Cups in the USHL including in 2022. The Musketeers have made the playoffs more times than not throughout its history. This success has led to more than 30 players reaching the NHL according to Austin Davis, the Musketeers game night operations manager.
Its promotion nights include the Teddy Bear Toss and Boy Scout Night, both on Dec. 10, and celebrate New Year’s Eve with the Musketeers on Dec. 31.
100-Meter Dash: Absolutely. Charlie Battle’s thick beard would slow him down.
North Iowa Bulls/Mason City Toros
Take a trip to Mason City to watch not one but two junior teams, the North Iowa Bulls of the North American Hockey League, and the Mason City Toros of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). Both teams play in the Mason City Arena.
The Toros used to go by the Bulls until the Amarillo Bulls relocated to Mason City in 2021. The Toros have dominated the NA3HL by winning the league four times and were division champions eight times during its presence in the league.
The Bulls have a variety of upcoming promotions including New Year’s Eve Rock the Arena on Dec. 31, Pets and Pucks Night on Feb. 11, and Rodeo Night: Battle of the Horns on March 24. The Toros also have promotions such as Marvel-ous Hockey on Jan. 22, School Spirit Day on Feb. 19, and Toros Tell a Tale – Disney Day on Feb. 26.
100-Meter Dash: Neither one. Not because I will lose, but for my fear of being thrown in the air by Brutus the Bull or Bruiser the Bull.
Founded in 2021, this Coralville-based ECHL team is affiliated with the Minnesota Wild and Iowa Wild. Playing at Xtream Arena which is less than three years old, the Heartlanders ended its first season with a record of 29-33. Despite the losing record, the Heartlanders have one of the crispest logos in minor league sports. Former Heartlander Hunter Jones made the Minnesota Wild tax squad last season. Jones is currently with the Iowa Wild, according to David Fine, Heartlanders broadcaster and director of communications.
The Heartlanders also have fun promotions including Matchup, where the first 500 fans receive a pack of trading cards on Dec. 16, Faith & Family Night on Jan. 21 presented by Pizza Ranch, everyone’s favorite religious pizza chain, and Star Trek Night on March 24.
100-Meter Dash: Not at all. With a name like Dash, I have no chance in a 100-meter dash.
Originally known as the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, the Iowa Wild moved to Iowa at the beginning of the 2013 season. Since then, the Wild have provided Central Iowa fans with a chance to see the best minor league players. Iowa Wild Media Relations Manager Alec Lessner noted there are, currently, nine players from the Iowa Wild on the Minnesota Wild.
For promotions, the Iowa Wild have Hawkeye Night on Jan. 21, Pride Night on Feb. 24, and April 1 is Let’s Get Tropical Night where the first 1,500 fans get a beach towel. The Iowa Wild also have daily specials including $1 hot dogs on Monday and $2 beers and Fireball drink specials on Fridays. For those ambitious fans, the Wild provide a chance to be the Zamboni Rider of the Game.
100-Meter Dash: Nope. Crash has those athletic feline characteristics that will put me to shame.
The Des Moines Buccaneers were founded in 1980. Throughout its successful USHL history, the Buccaneers have won four Clark Cups and four Anderson Cups. The Bucs have sent more than 35 players to the NHL and more when including coaches and support staff, according to Media Relation Director Ashley Chase. While recent years have been tough, the Buccaneers did advance to the conference semifinals during the 2018-19 season.
The Buccaneers’ notable promotions include the Broadlawns Ugly Sweater Jersey Auction on Dec. 17, Princess and Superhero Night on Jan. 28, and ’80s Night on April 1. They also have a weekly promotion of Fareway Friday Night which is a buy one, get one for arena-level tickets.
100-Meter Dash: I would win effortlessly. Winger is a one-eyed parrot. That is a cakewalk.
Founded in 2010, the current iteration of the Dubuque Fighting Saints has made quick work in its brief history securing one Anderson Cup and two Clark Cups. The USHL team is also the defending back-to-back-to-back champion of the Dupaco Community Credit Union Cowbell Cup. Eight former Fighting Saints played in NHL games during the 2022-23 season, according to Blake Theisen, broadcasting and media relations manager.
The Fighting Saints also have great promotions such as Stick it to Cancer and Pink the Rink on Jan. 7, Celebrate National Bagel Day on Jan. 13, and Mascot Mania Night on Feb. 24.
100-Meter Dash: Fur sure. Bernie the St. Bernard would easily get distracted.
Playing in Cedar Rapids as the RoughRiders since 1999, this USHL team has won three Anderson Cups and one Clark Cup. The RoughRiders have had 28 former players play in the NHL. The RoughRiders play at the ImOn Ice Arena, informally known as the The Stable, which is the coolest nickname.
Cedar Rapids promotions include Skate in the New Year with a post-game skate with the players on Dec. 30, College Night! Cornhole Tournament on Feb. 3, and a birthday party for Ricochet, the team’s mascot, on March 18.
100-Meter Dash: Speaking of Ricochet, under no circumstances would I win a race against him. Ricochet is a horse!
by Sean Dengler
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