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Vintage Apparel & Collectibles for Texas Minor League Hockey Teams
Welcome Texas hockey fans; we hope you enjoy exploring our exclusive collection of Texas minor league hockey apparel from over 15 defunct, but never forgotten, minor league hockey franchises across the great state of Texas. From the CHL to the WPHL—and many leagues in between—our retro hockey shirts, jerseys, hats, hoodies, drinkware, and commemorative merchandise pay homage to these special Texas minor league hockey teams that don’t skate anymore but still deserve to be celebrated. We are a family-run, hockey-loving small business dedicated to bringing back the history and designs of fondly remembered and long-lost hockey teams from Texas and across the US and Canada!
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Hockey Teams in Texas
Since Texas is known for its cowboy culture and temperatures, it probably isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of hockey. However, the state has a rich and vibrant history with the sport, spanning from the 1940s to the present day. We'll explore the growth and evolution of hockey in Texas, highlighting some of the memorable professional and minor league teams that have left an indelible mark on the Lone Star State.
The roots of minor professional hockey in Texas can be traced back to 1941 when two teams made their debut in the American Hockey Association (AHA), the pre-cursor to the United States Hockey League (USHL). The Dallas Texans and Forth Worth Rangers both took to the ice. It was short-lived, as both teams would play one season and then go on hiatus due to the US' entrance into WWII. They would both restart in 1945 after the war and played through the 1948-49 season. The Texans and Rangers laid the groundwork for hockey in the state, and you can probably make a direct line through these teams to the Fort Worth Wings and Dallas Black Hawks rivalry of the 1970s and on to the 1990s, with the arrival of the Dallas Stars in the NHL.
The History of Hockey in the Metroplex (Dallas and Forth Worth)
Fort Worth has played a significant role in the history of Texas hockey, hosting a series of teams that have etched their names into the city's sports history. After the Rangers in the '40s, hockey resumed in the city with the Forth Worth Texans and Fort Worth Wings, who took the ice from 1967 to 1982 as part of the Central Hockey League (CHL). The Wings would develop a heated rivalry with the nearby Dallas Black Hawks during this time. In the 1990s, the Fort Worth Fire emerged as a dynamic force in the CHL, capturing the hearts of local fans that is still well known today.
On the other side of the Metroplex, the Dallas Black Hawks and Dallas Freeze took root as direct rivals to the Texans/Wings and Fire franchises. The Dallas Black Hawks, founded in 1967, were part of the Central Hockey League (CHL) and played a crucial role in cultivating hockey fandom in the region during the 1970s with their fierce rivalry with the Texans/Wings. Although both the Black Hawks and Texans/Wings would go out of business in 1982, the legacy of the Black Hawks paved the way for the Dallas Freeze, who played in the CHL in the 1990s.
The Freeze continued the tradition of bringing high-energy hockey to Dallas fans and re-started the local rivalry with the Fort Worth Fire. Despite eventually going out of business, all these teams showed hockey in DFW and Texas could work, influencing the growth of the sport in the region and eventually leading to the arrival of the Dallas Stars from Minnesota.
The History of Hockey in Houston
While Dallas and Fort Worth have a deep hockey history, they aren't the only places in Texas where hockey has thrived. Hockey in Houston dates back to 1946 with the Houston Skippers of the USHL, and despite not having an NHL team today, the city is always rumored to be closing in on having a big league team of their own.
Houston's hockey legacy started to build in the late 1960s with the Houston Apollos, who were an affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. Althought that team only lasted a few years, the next team to take a turn in Houston were the legendary Houston Aeros, who played in the World Hockey Association (WHA) starting in 1972.
The Aeros made a big splash in their second season of 1973-74 by signing Gordie Howe out of retirement. Gordie Howe, often regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, brought his illustrious career to the Houston Aeros in the WHA. Alongside his sons Mark and Marty, Howe became a living legend in Houston and powered the Aeroes to two straight AVCO Trophies in 1973 and 1974.
In the 1973-74 WHA season, Gordie Howe showcased his unbelievable talent by winning the league's MVP award at the age of 45, an unprecedented achievement that solidified his status as a hockey icon. The Howe family's stint with the Houston Aeros included two consecutive AVCO World Trophy championships in 1974 and 1975, further elevating the team's reputation in the hockey world and establishing a lasting legacy in Houston sports history. The three Howes would move to the New England Whalers for the 1977-78 season, and the Aeros would only last one season without them before folding, as they were not able to get into the NHL. In their wake, the Apollos made a short and unsuccessful one-and-a-half season re-appearance in the CHL.
With hockey booming all across Texas and the south in the 1990s, the Aeros name was revived with an AHL franchise that used a much different green color scheme than the WHA Aeros' blue and white. It also featured a B-23 bomber logo. The new Aeros had a great, long run from 1994 through 2013 and won playoff titles in 1999 and 2003. Unfortunately, they moved to Iowa in 2013 and Houston has been without pro hockey since.
Minor League Hockey Teams in Texas
Hockey in texas isn't all about Houston and the Metroplex, though. Outside of the biggest cities there is still tons of hockey action in the lonestar state!
The minor leagues have been a source of entertainment for hockey enthusiasts in Texas for many years with teams across the state from San Angelo to El Paso. These teams have allowed cities across the state to experience the thrill of live hockey, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among fans. Let's delve into some of the minor league teams that have left a mark on Texas' hockey history.
Amarillo: Wranglers, Gorillas, and Rattlers
Amarillo has a storied hockey tradition, starting with the orignial CHL Amarillo Wranglers in the late 1960s. The Wranglers, later succeeded by the Amarillo Gorillas and Amarillo Rattlers, brought fast-paced action to the Texas Panhandle for the first time in 1968. The Rattlers and Gorillas brought hockey back in the 1990s and 2000s. The colorful team names, coupled with the great support of Amarillo residents, showcased the unique charm of minor league hockey.
San Antonio: Iguanas, Dragons, and Rampage:
San Antonio has been no stranger to minor league hockey excitement, hosting teams like the San Antonio Iguanas and Dragons in the 1990s and the Rampage in the 2000s. The Iguanas, with their distinctive logo and and orange and purple colors, captured the attention of San Antonio hockey fans in the 1990s. Oddly enough, the San Antonio Dragons moved in and gave the city two minor league teams for a short time! While those teams didn't last very long, the San Antonio Rampage spent nearly two-decades entertaining fans before moving in 2020.
From Abilene to Waco and everywhere in between:
There have really been so many minor league hockey teams throughout Texas over the years, it's hard to include them all! We'll try our best, though. In Abilene, the Abilene Aviators spent two seasons in the WPHL with a great Aviator logo before folding. From 1996-2008, the Austin Ice Bats had an amazing logo and great fan support in the Texas capital city. Tiny as far as Texas cities go, even Belton got in on the hockey action with the Central Texas Stampede of the WPHL from 1996-2001. To this day the Corpus Christi Ice Rays and Odessa Jackalopes still play, and have been skating in their resepective cities since at least 1998! Way out in west texas there were the El Paso Buzzards and now the El Paso Rhinos. Higaldo was home to the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the CHL for nine years. The CHL's Laredo Bucks played 10 years in the Gateway City. San Angelo played host to the San Angelo Outlaws and the Saints but hasn't had hockey since 2005. And last but not least, the Waco Wizards occupied Chip and Jo's town from 1996-2000 with one of the best logos you'll ever see.
Throughout the years many minor league hockey teams have skated in Texan arenas, and they contributed not only to the growth of the sport but also to the creation of lasting memories for fans across the state. While you might not expect it at first, there is certianly a robust hockey culture in Texas, making the state a a great place for hockey fans.