The 2022-23 NCAA Division I men’s hockey season was as compelling as any in recent memory, and that excitement was certainly reflected at the gates. Attendance in NCAA Division I men’s hockey was up 15 percent nationwide from 2021-22 and a whopping 44 of 59 (75 percent) men’s programs that competed in both of those seasons experienced attendance gains in 2022-23.
Arizona State experienced the largest attendance increase, going from an average of 870 fans per game in 2021-22 at Oceanside Arena to 4,791 in 2022-23 at Mullet Arena, which opened in October. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) boasted the largest per-game increase in terms of percentage, with a year-over-year increase of 513 percent.
Largest Attendance Increase (Fans/game)
1. Arizona State (+3,921)
2. Omaha (+2,063)
3. RPI (+1,884)
4. Sacred Heart (+1,849)
5. Minnesota (+1,243)
Largest Attendance Increase (Pct/game)
1. RPI (+513%)
2. Sacred Heart (+493%)
3. Arizona State (+451%)
4. Yale (+136%)
5. Dartmouth (+113%)
The 2022-23 attendance surge can be partially attributed to the removal of COVID-related restrictions that were still in place at some schools, primarily in the ECAC. However, what college hockey experienced in 2022-23 was more than a post-pandemic return to normal; at least nine schools set new single-game attendance records for their current home venues in 2022-23: Arizona State (Jan. 14), Connecticut (multiple), Mercyhurst (Oct. 1), Northeastern (multiple), Northern Michigan (Dec. 2), Omaha (Feb. 10), Penn State (Jan. 21), Sacred Heart (Jan. 21) and St. Thomas (Feb. 4).
Regular-season rivalry matchups also packed a quartet of National Hockey League (NHL) venues in Detroit, Boston, Denver and New York: Michigan and Michigan State clashed in front of 18,325 at Little Caesar’s Arena, the Beanpot averaged 18,258 at TD Garden; Colorado College and Denver played in front of 17,952 at Ball Arena; and Cornell and UConn battled in front of 12,247 at Madison Square Garden.
Fans also turned out in droves for three outdoor games in 2022-23. The Faceoff on the Lake (Feb. 18) between Michigan and Ohio State drew 45,523 fans to Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium, while 22,500 witnessed the Frozen Fenway doubleheader (Jan. 7) featuring UConn vs. Northeastern and Boston College vs. UMass at Fenway Park.
The season culminated at the 2023 NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, where Quinnipiac defeated Minnesota in front of 19,444 at Amalie Arena, the second-largest indoor crowd ever to witness a national title game.