College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #30–#21

By JVDW
In College Hockey
Oct 2nd, 2017
0 Comments

Ed. note: This is a continuation of a special series here on HbD with a guest contributor: Mark Majewski, a professional designer with Boston College. He knows college hockey and he knows design, so he’s ranking all the college hockey uniforms in a series of posts, from #60 to #1. We’re damn excited to have him on the site, and hope you like our dive into college hockey aesthetics!

Mark’s brief intro and a full description of how he analyzed each school’s uniform is on Part 1 of this series, and we’ll pick it up here by giving a brief summation of that. Enjoy!

The things I look for most in my analyses are:

•  Does it look like a college hockey uniform? Does it immediately give off a collegiate feel or is there something else about the aesthetic that makes you say “Man that’s a sweet-lookin’ get up.”

•  Is the uniform identifiable? Who am I watching?  Does the brand immediately captivate you?

•  Lastly, just overall look and feel: How does this color combo mesh with this set or is the shoulder patch too bunched up to the number on the sleeve…just picky little things like that.

Please bear in mind, that the rules of college hockey uniforms don’t apply like they do in the NHL. Some schools get new uniforms every year. Some haven’t changed since the 1970s. Some have more combinations and offerings (Michigan State with six!) than some that just have a traditional home set and road set. To start, we are going to focus on the Division I men’s offerings.

So sit back and enjoy and let the debate begin as we do our best analyzing all 60 college hockey uniforms!

(Note: Because some programs have more uniform options than others, rankings are based off of a collective assessment and not just one individual uniform. For instance, just because Northeastern might have an incredible third jersey – which it does – the overall ranking is based off all three of its uniform choices.)

• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #60–51
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #50–41
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #40–31
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #30–21
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #20–11
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #10–6
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #5–1

 

#30. MASSACHUSETTS

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We’ve finally reached the upper half of the college hockey uniform rankings! We head to Amherst where the Minutemen of UMass claim the No. 30 spot with their extremely well-branded look.

What I like most about UMass’ overall look and feel is that it’s a good example of less is more, but a lot of the details in the uniform are what go a long way for me.

Let’s start with the front: It’s not easy fitting a 13-letter state on the front of the jersey. The Minutemen pull it off! Barely…but they do. It’s arched well and is just big enough to be legible not so wide that it cuts off at the arms so you can’t see the entire marking.

The piping is very unique and also prominent, as the four-stripe look, two thin – space – two thin look is consistent on the sleeves, bottom of sweater and socks and I think it looks great. Few teams are bold enough to pull this off but I think UMass knocks it out of the park with this.

If I’m not mistaken, we’ve finally gotten our first contrasting nameplate and font color on the back of the uniform. This will win me over nearly every. single. time. The font of the last name, much like the front of the uniform, matches the numeral font and is unique to the entire Minutemen branding effort. Anytime a program can incorporate the consistent look of specific branding entities, specifically fonts, that is very important and UMass does it well as anyone else in the nation.

Two quick notes on these uniforms: I love the two-tone look and I also appreciate the Massachusetts state seal on the left shoulder.

I think that the shoulder area should remain somewhat unfettered and be reserved for unique aspects to that team or program and UMass does just that.

 

#29. ALASKA FAIRBANKS

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We head to the other program of the Last Frontier where Alaska Fairbanks offers up three very different looks, with its third jersey being one of the best of in all the land, even amongst the contiguous 48.

Let’s speak briefly on the home whites and road yellows. The home white look is very collegiate and has a different kind of piping than most that I think works very well here. It’s a two-tone look where the bottom portion extends longer than the top with a yellow separator. I have not seen that yet in my research and this is something that’s unique to the Nanooks. The main logo is one that’s probably better served for a secondary marking on the shoulder, but since this is the only sweater they blow the logo up on, it works okay here for a home look. UAF goes with the traditional, two-color oval yoke on the shoulder with an ‘Alaska’ patch on the shoulder. My favorite element of the white uniform is the yellow triangle on the neck where the hockey lace is situated. It makes for a different little detail I like.

The yellow threads do not look anything like the whites, with different piping, a different front and a blue helmet. The helmet looks great as a complementary color to the rest of the uniform. I’m not crazy about the size and look of the Alaska font on the front, but it’s not too damning here. The shoulder look is different as well, with a solid blue block that abruptly stops just above the number with a secondary white piping along the bottom. The actual collar is unique as it offers the two-tone look with the blue-yellow-blue striping going all the way around. I like that look despite it clashing a bit with the rest of that area.

Now onto the crème de la crème of what Fairbanks has to offer. The Nanooks made their claim to fame when their videoboard struck fear into their visiting opponents when a Nanook, fully equipped with a fighter jet, launched missiles at opposing teams’ facilities, blowing them up in front of opposing skaters very eyes at the Carlson Center (eventually, the Nanook took out mother Earth – It’s true).

Alaska Fairbanks alternate sweater has its proud Nanook, front and center, with the word ‘Fairbanks’ boldly strewn a top of it. Accompanied by a two full sleeves of blue-yellow striping all the way down, you’re not going to find another college hockey jersey quite like this one. It embodies the uniqueness of the program and the state and is executed beautifully. The only white on the jersey being represented by the Nanook displays great attention to detail. So long as the Nanook stays on the sweater and doesn’t blow up any other planets, this is a top-10 jersey in all of college hockey.

 

#28. WISCONSIN

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Because we are now in the upper tier of college hockey uniforms, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to nitpick and find flaws. I will continue to do so when I feel it’s necessary, but it’s certainly hard to find any in this college hockey classic.

Before the Badgers fully switched to Under Armour, Wisconsin possessed a much more basic look. Not in a bad way, in fact, it had the embodiment of a college hockey sweater, but I feel as if Under Armour perfected that look.

Any markings on the shoulders? Nope. Wisconsin doesn’t need it. All the Badgers  need to is proudly etch the state of which they represent horizontally across the jersey, as just saying the name ‘Wisconsin’ gives you a feeling of nostalgia and college hockey history.

The simplicity in these uniforms is what is so beautiful about them, but more importantly, the brand Under Armour instilled the Badgers with across the board is well represented here, both in the wordmark font and number font. It’s not shown here, but the player name atop the number on the back is also the same font, presenting a well-branded, unified look that embodies the spirit of college hockey.

 

 

#27. FERRIS STATE

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We’re back to the three-uniform offering with Ferris State as the Bulldogs trot out three very different looks from the 2016-17 season. Different piping, different shoulders, different fonts – different everything!

Let’s start with the home whites. I have Ferris State up so high on this list because that distinct-looking Bulldog, which I’d have to imagine has not been updated since the late 80s or early 90s, is the definition what I think a collegiate logo, front and center, on a uniform should look like. It’s almost a little tacky, but it works for a place out of Big Rapids, Michigan. It’s been a distinctive mark of the program for some time and I think it compliments the rest of the uniform nicely. The three-color striping, consistent on the sleeve and sock, is a bold-looking pattern while the plain red shoulder yoke is a nice contrast with the crisp, white jersey. The number on the sleeve is very legible as well and looks sharp.

The redish-maroon uniform is certainly my least favorite of the three as the front presents a relatively uninspired-looking font. It basically says, “hey, we’re Ferris State, and we’re here” and it doesn’t offer much character.

That’s okay, though – because Ferris State’s yellow uniform is a thing of beauty. Consistent, bold piping on sleeve, jersey and socks, the main logo being used as an accompanying logo on the shoulder and a beautifully stroked Ferris State wordmark has this getup looking fresh. The red collar and hockey lace compliments everything with this look as well.

The final component of these uniforms I enjoy is the red helmet, particularly with the ‘Bulldogs’ script on the side. I think it’s a subtle, yet elegant touch to cap these off.

 

#26. NEW HAMPSHIRE

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I’m not sure what kind of response we’ll get here with New Hampshire weighing in at No. 26, because I fear that some might think these are too simple a uniform of the ‘UNH’ markings is too bubbly or obnoxious. Maybe I’m just biased I see these uniforms at least twice a season or that my mother went to UNH for a short period of time, but something about the Wildcats’ overall look screams college hockey to me.

The home and away uniforms are an identical two-tone flip of one another while the third uniform they have presented here is, from what I believe, a one-time wear against Maine at Fenway Park in 2016-17.

The branding element and ‘knowing who’s on the ice’ are two extremely important factors for me, and UNH checks both of those marks heavily on my list. There’s nothing to write home about regarding lining or piping or any unique markings. But, the UNH brand in its wordmark on the front with a well-placed primary logo on the shoulders (without any piping, I might add) is a strong, unified look for the Durham, N.H. faithful. The numeral font, in addition to the names on the back of the uniform, correlate with this font as well and it just presents an entire, clean package that looks great when all six skaters are on the ice at once.

 

#25. LAKE SUPERIOR STATE

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Go ahead…throw eggs at me. Boo me. I don’t care. This is my list, damn it! The Lake Superior State uniform is a guilty pleasure of mine and I have it much, much higher than it probably should be.

Why are the Lakers so high on this list? The three-time national champions (three times!) have one of the most collegiate-looking uniforms in college hockey, if not the most. Do I think that Lakers logo, with a clipart-looking anchor and some sort of Times New Roman font, horizontally-skewed ‘Lakers’ wordmark looks good? I mean, no – not really! But I give LSSU a ton of credit for sticking with its guns. This is the look the Lakers have possessed for some time now and this is what got them this far. The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan-based institution is essentially in Canada, a stone’s throw away Ontario and I respect the hell out of this mid 1970s look.

As a whole, the cream-colored home uniforms are actually really sharp. Consistent three-pronged piping on the sleeve and socks, but void of the bottom of the jersey which I appreciate. It lets that whimsical logo breath on an empty canvas. Lake State slaps that marking on both the pants and inside a blue shoulder yoke as well and all joking aside, I like this whole get up. I mean, come on – how can you not think that logo is kitschy and endearing!? It’s the embodiment of college hockey!

The blue uniform isn’t exactly an inverted swap, particularly noted on the front of the uniform. You know the logo was designed eons ago when you have to put a patchy white backdrop on it to make sure it can stand out from a dark background. Like I said, I respect it, though. No one tells LSSU what it can and cannot do! The all white shoulder yoke isn’t my favorite, but I’m not going to crush them for it.

Those third uniforms? Yes, it’s a script marking which I’m a sucker for and it says ‘Soo’ in the underlined portion, which I think is pretty cool, but when I think Lake Superior State, I think the anchor. The 50th anniversary patch of the program on these getups is a nice bonus, though. More anchors!

 

#24. Boston College

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Oh boy. I’m going to get destroyed by student-athletes, coaches and just about everyone else I work with that sees these rankings as I’m currently sitting at my desk on a Sunday afternoon, reviewing the very school I work for – good old Boston College.

But to show people I’m not a homer (and you’ll see why even more so ahead in the rankings), I have the Eagles exactly where I think they should be. Is this a bad uniform?! Not at all. I love our uniforms (except the golds, which I’ll get to). The problem I have is that I know too much about our hockey history here at BC and when I walk down to the hockey office and look at our old composite photos, Boston College possessed some of the nicest, classiest and coolest uniforms you could ever dream of in the 1960s and 1970s. Even though I’m in my fifth year with the hockey program at BC, I still think of the Eagles with those dark, mustard yellow helmets in the early to mid 1990s, which they have traded out for maroon buckets.

But enough for saving my ass with the explanations – on with the review!

Just like Wisconsin, Under Armour is our uniform provider and they have done a marvelous job of incorporating our brand into these uniforms, particularly in the wordmarking. Under Armour developed this wordmark on the front of our sweaters specifically for hockey and I think it looks great. It’s a little different than the markings of some of BC’s others uniforms, but still falls in line with the standards of our department’s branding guide, both with the lettering and numbering.

One tidbit of information I can offer that few can is that pattern inside the maroon and gold piping on the sleeve? That is supposed to represent the stained glass windows of Boston College’s famous Gasson Hall, the campus’s most identifiable building. Pretty cool, huh?

Our main logo, the slanted BC with the Eagle in it, works perfectly for an accompanying mark on the pants and shoulder, like we have here. I’m very happy it’s not strewn across a sweater on its own because it’s too intricate and unsymmetrical to have that done.

I’m not the biggest fan of our gold uniforms for a few reasons. I don’t like how much space is left in the middle of the uniform between the Eagle’s wings. When the guys sit down, sometimes you can’t even see the Eagle logo because it folds underneath their stomach and all you can see is the gold portion. I do like the maroon yoke stroked in white, just wish the gold BC logo was a bit smaller.

All in all, I very much enjoy our set of uniforms – I’m just hoping we can get a true throwback mocked up very soon because there are so many great ones to choose from.

(PS – Sorry Coach York – the program, as a whole, is obviously No. 1 on this list!)

 

 

#23. Saint Lawrence

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Do you remember when I asked, does anyone know what program utilizes the red and brown color scheme? Well here you have it – the Saints of Canton, N.Y. fall in at No. 23 with this clean, collegiate looking attire.

St. Lawrence gives us three offerings, albeit all different, from the 2016-17 season and all three have some strong aspects.

The first on the left stands out to me with its unique piping, going with a pair of intricate stripes that technically could shake out to 10 lines on each sleeve with 10 more on the bottom of the jersey for a whopping 30 stripes! Best part about them is that you’d never be able to tell, though. The plain red shoulder yoke for some reason works well with these. It takes your eyes off of all the piping and offers a nice balance.

The main white uniform, the one depicted with both the front and the back, is just an absolutely clean offering from top to bottom. My favorite part of these might actually be the back of the uniform. A bold, stroked number with a collegiate feel and very legible lettering just above it. The brown – white – red sleeve and bottom of the sweater piping looks good. It’s a bit too thick for my taste but I think works well with these. Saint Lawrence might have one of the coolest school markings / logos out there as its shoulder patch is an awesome spot for that placement.

I also love the three-striped color and enjoy how it’s interrupted at the base by the hockey lace.

The red uniform has the same layout of the whites, but only has two thick stripes (brown and white) that you unfortunately cannot see here too well and is an awesome look. I wish they did the same with the whites, just offering a brown and red swatch for the piping instead of adding white in the middle.

All in all, a classic looking college hockey uniform for a classic college hockey program in Appleton Arena.

 

#22. Western Michigan

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I know I said a little while back it was getting harder and harder to critique, but I will go back on that statement here for our friends in Kalamazoo.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really like two of the Broncos’ three uniforms. In fact, their black one might be one of the worst on the whole lot but the white sweater? That uniform has me swooning and is WMU’s saving grace as the home of the Lawson Lunatics come in at No. 22.

Let’s get the bad out of the way. The dark jerseys have too blocky of a shoulder palette and the way Western Michigan is outlined on the uniform just doesn’t look great. I think it would be okay if it was a different font, but it’s not and the aesthetic of that front sweater is pretty yucky to me.

The gold uniform isn’t bad at all but pales in comparison to the whites. I’m not the biggest fan of that logo blown up on the front but I love love love the shoulder patch on these. The state of Michigan with a ‘W’ marking Kalamazoo are things I love on college hockey uniforms.

On to the crowned jewel of Western Michigan, though.

One aspect of these rankings I have not delved into too deeply yet is how a uniform looks, as a whole, on the ice. How intimidating does a team look when they’re all next to one another or three of them are rushing at you to block a shot?

This kit is the first one the really jumped off the page to me that embodied that thought process of mine. The black and white color swatch accented by the beautiful gold trimmings with the number on the side of a horizontal wordmarking is a thing of beauty. I’m obsessed with the striping on the sleeve (and on the socks, but you cannot see it here) and a different kind of piping on the bottom of the sweater that works well collectively. It’s a sharp, intimidating look that would look incredible if simply the white and the black elements of this uniform inverted.

 

 

#21. Northeastern

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Once again, the bias might come out here because before I head into my fifth season at Boston College, I put in a four-year stint down the street in Boston at Northeastern University. There’s always a special place in my heart for the Huntington Hounds, but even more so, the Huskies’ red sweaters. Fi-re.

We’ll get to those gems in a moment, but for now, let’s focus on the red and black uniforms.

I’ll be the first to admit, there a lot going on here. Northeastern is a 12-lettered word that has a two-toned drop shadow to it accompanied with the program’s signature Husky head. Toss in a two-striped color and three stripes on the sleeve, jersey and socks, and there’s a good amount for your eyeballs to lock in on. It’s a look I’m accustomed to, but some others might not care for it. I’ve always thought the black uniforms outshined the whites, giving a little more pop to those red accents.

Northeastern also displays its two others athletics department’s logos on those uniforms, including the split paw logo on the shoulder and the split Block ‘N’ on the helmet. If this is all the Huskies had to offer, I’d have them much lower.

But it’s not. They added a third, red uniform a couple years back. The uniform is an ode to Northeastern’s mid 1980s teams, when the program was in its heyday as the Huskies captured four Beanpot trophies in 1980, 1984, 1985 and 1988 (their only four…) NU donned these red uniforms then and they’ve been perfected in this go around.

I love everything about them. The sleeves may be my favorite part because I have not seen any other program emulate this look. The old school ‘Northeastern’ wording, emphatically arched over the Husky head with extremely easy to read names and numbers in white on the back. It’s beautiful.

I get sweaty thinking about what these uniforms would look like in a white and black model…get it on it, Huskies!

 

• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #60–51
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #50–41
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #40–31
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #30–21
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #20–11
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #10–6
• More: College Hockey Uniform Rankings: #5–1

 

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