Hoosier State: A State-by-State Hockey History by Hockey Joe

Hoosier State: A State-by-State Hockey History by Hockey Joe

Posted by Hockey Joe on

My Own Indiana Hockey History

My upbringing in Indiana was defined by hockey. From playing youth and high school hockey to attending hockey camps at Notre Dame, I was fortunate to have a multitude of experiences that helped me develop a deep appreciation for the sport and a unique understanding of Indiana's hockey history. It was at Notre Dame where I had the chance to learn from skilled coaches and players, who imparted valuable skills and techniques that I continue to use to this day. Now, as the founder of HockeyJoe.com, I am overjoyed to be able to operate our website out of the Hoosier State. Our mission is to share our love for hockey with our customers and to contribute to the thriving hockey community in Indiana. We take immense pride in being a part of this community and look forward to continuing to serve it through our products and resources.

Indiana has a rich history of ice hockey, with the sport gaining popularity in the 20th century. In this blog post, the second in my state by state hockey history series, we will explore the history of ice hockey in Indiana, including the time when Wayne Gretzky played for the Indianapolis Racers.

Early History of Ice Hockey in Indiana

Ice hockey has been played in Indiana since the early 20th century. The first ice hockey team in the state was the Indianapolis Capitals, which was established in 1939. The team played in the International Hockey League (IHL) and had a successful run, winning several championships over the years.

In the 1950s and 60s, ice hockey became increasingly popular in Indiana. The state was home to several amateur and professional ice hockey teams, including the Fort Wayne Komets, which is still active today. The Komets were established in 1952 and have won nine championships in their history.

Expansion of Ice Hockey in Indiana

The 1970s saw a significant expansion of ice hockey in Indiana. The state was awarded a franchise in the World Hockey Association (WHA), a professional ice hockey league that existed from 1972 to 1979. The team was named the Indianapolis Racers and played their home games at the Market Square Arena.

The Indianapolis Racers were owned by Nelson Skalbania, a Canadian businessman who was also the owner of the Vancouver Canucks in the National Hockey League (NHL). Skalbania's goal was to create a successful ice hockey franchise in Indiana and to bring in top talent from around the world.

Wayne Gretzky Plays for the Indianapolis Racers

One of Skalbania's biggest acquisitions for the Indianapolis Racers was Wayne Gretzky, who was just 17 years old at the time. Gretzky was already a highly skilled ice hockey player, and Skalbania saw him as the future of the sport.

Gretzky played for the Indianapolis Racers for a brief period in the 1978-79 season. He played in eight games and scored three goals, but the team struggled financially, and Skalbania was forced to sell Gretzky to the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.

Despite Gretzky's short stint with the Indianapolis Racers, his time with the team is still remembered by ice hockey fans in Indiana. His brief time in the state helped to put Indiana on the map as a destination for top-level ice hockey talent.


Ice hockey has a long and rich history in Indiana, dating back to the early 20th century. The state has been home to several successful amateur and professional teams, including the Indianapolis Racers, who were part of the WHA in the 1970s. Wayne Gretzky's time with the Indianapolis Racers was short, but it had a significant impact on the sport in the state. Today, ice hockey continues to be a popular sport in Indiana, with several active teams and a dedicated fan base.

Attention all Indiana hockey players and fans! I want to hear from you! Share your love of the sport and connect with other members of the Indiana hockey community by commenting below. I encourage you to include links to your team's website or social media pages so that I can learn more about your involvement in the sport. Additionally, if you notice any errors or omissions in my coverage of Indiana hockey, please let me know so that I can continue to improve my content. Thank you for visiting, and let's come together to support the thriving hockey culture in the Hoosier state!

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