I’ve lived in Indianapolis for the majority of my life. My family moved to Indianapolis in 1998, and during that time, the International Hockey League’s Indianapolis Ice were in their last season before rebranding and making the jump to the Central Hockey League.
For as long as I can remember, I have been really interested in uniforms and logos and the design that goes into those specific uniforms. Now that I’m writing here at The Sin Bin, I’ve become the resident Sin Bin Gear Guru.
As an Indianapolis hockey fan, I’ve put together a uniform history of every team that played hockey in the Circle City.
The Indianapolis Capitals were the first semi-pro team in Indianapolis in the American Hockey League from 1939 to 1952. They sported the simplest of uniforms. Blue and white jerseys with brown leather gloves and brown pants. The jerseys had no stripes, but just a simple white capital building, resembling the one downtown Indianapolis. On each arm was the letter “C” with a block letter “I” to represent the Indianapolis Capitals name.
A few years later, the team switched to something even more simple. Keeping with the blue and white theme, the team put the player’s number on the front in large, white font, similar to an NFL jersey. The Capitals won the AHL’s Calder Cup in 1942 and 1950. The Capitals played their games at the old version of the Indianapolis Coliseum.
In 1955, the Indianapolis Chiefs began play in the IHL. The Chiefs’ primary colors were red and white with blue accents. Above is the Chiefs’ white home jerseys. On each jersey were two red stripes with matching socks. To match the logo, the team wore blue gloves and blue helmets, the only blue on the uniforms. The Chiefs were Turner Cup Champions in 1958 and played their games out of the Indianapolis Coliseum.
The Indianapolis Racers came to town in 1974 and played in the World Hockey Association (WHA). Two NHL superstars donned the Racers jersey, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, who only wore the jersey for five games and never played a home game before being moved to Cincinnati to play for the Stingers.
The Racers got a little more complicated with their uniforms compared to their predecessors. The skate logo is one of my favorite logos ever, but I may be biased because I played in the Racers youth organization growing up. That being said, the red, white and blue uniform and logo still lives and youth organizations still rock the beautiful Racers logo.
The Indianapolis Checkers came to town in 1979 and won back-to-back CHL Adams Cups in 1982 and 1983. The Checkers wore uniforms very similar to the current and past New York Islanders uniforms because the Islanders were their NHL affiliate. The lone blue stripe on top of the orange forearms matched the socks. The Checkers rocked a few different logos and played in the IHL after five years in the Central Hockey League. The Checkers played their games out of the Indianapolis Coliseum from 1979 to 1985 and Market Square Arena from 1985 to 1987. Market Square Arena was torn down in 2001.
IHL Indianapolis Ice
In 1988, the Indianapolis Ice came to town and played their games in the IHL. Future Stanley Cup winning coach Darryl Sutter coached the team to a Turner Cup in their second season. The IHL Ice also had National Hockey League Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek on the roster in the early 90’s while the Ice were affiliated with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
The initial Ice jersey was a simple black, grey and white jersey with a not so great logo. The home and away jersey looked very similar to the Wayne Gretzky-era Los Angeles Kings jerseys.
In 1994, the team rebranded to black and purple that many Indianapolis hockey fans fell in love with. The initial jersey had the purple shoulders and the “Ice” logo.
Two years later, the Ice rebranded again and brought in the famous polar bear logo with the Indianapolis skyline in the background. The jersey design remained the same; the only difference was the logo swap on the front of the uniform.
CHL Indianapolis Ice
The Ice moved to the Central Hockey League in 1999 and won Adams Cup in their first season as a team. The CHL Ice had one of my favorite jerseys in Indianapolis hockey history. They smoothed out the polar bear logo and made it a bit less 90’s looking. The purple jersey had cool barbed wire-looking stripes on the arms and waist. The purple uniform resonated with me because it was the first games that I attended while living in Indianapolis.
The CHL Ice had players on their roster that Indianapolis hockey fans came to know and love. Indy Fuel head coach Bernie John is the all-time leading scorer with 91 goals and 262 assists in 301 games for the CHL Ice. Former Ice Assistant Coach Jan Jas is 11th all-time in points for the Ice with 38 goals and 28 assists in 90 games.
USHL Indiana Ice
Sticking with the “Ice” mascot, the Simon/Skjodt family brought the USHL to Indianapolis and called them Indiana Ice. The logo and colors changed to a light blue, navy blue and white yeti. In my self-proclaimed gear guru opinion, there is no better color combination than light blue and navy blue. It just looks sharp. The matching gloves with the Reebok helmet with the grey inserts made the jersey look modern and different, a combination that earns points in my opinion.
The USHL Ice went through SEVERAL different uniform combinations, ranging from light blue and navy blue to orange, light blue and navy blue, then they added a dark green jersey and finished their time in a navy blue and white jersey.
The USHL Ice saw several current NHL players don their uniform as well as current Indy Fuel forward Alex Wideman. Current NHL players John Carlson, Scott Darling and Torey Krug donned the yeti on their chest and played their Junior-A games at Pepsi Coliseum.
The Indy Fuel came to town thanks to the Hallett family. Team owner Jim Hallett wanted to bring professional hockey back to town after a total renovation costing around $63 million. The Fuel have worn several different jerseys through their four seasons. Their current uniforms are nods to their AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs and NHL affiliate Chicago Blackhawks. You can’t get better than the Blackhawks themed jersey; it’s a timeless classic. The black and white stripes on the red jersey look sharp.
The Fuel wore some crazy pennants on their first jersey ever and quickly got rid of those for a simpler and cleaner looking version of the red jersey above. If I had to guess, the Fuel will stick with the Blackhawks themed jersey as long as the affiliation continues. It sells with a city that loves the Blackhawks and resonates with fans that support the Hawks after several recent Stanley Cups.
Indianapolis is no stranger to hockey history. There have been several different teams that wore several different uniforms. If I had the time to find every single uniform that every Indianapolis team wore, none of you would take the time to read this. For my sake and all of the hockey fans in Indianapolis, I hope the jersey history continues because so far, it’s pretty good.