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Grand Forks ranked top hockey town in U.S.

A financial planning website has ranked Grand Forks as America's best hockey town for the third year in a row.

The study by SmartAsset ranks 118 towns with NHL, AHL, ECHL or NCAA Division I men's hockey teams by metrics such as average game attendance and per-game attendance as a percentage of the town's total population, as well as quality-of-life measures such as income, living costs and unemployment rates.

Fighting Hawks games bring an average crowd size of more than 11,000 and regularly fill Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"There's nothing like being a hockey fan in Grand Forks, North Dakota," the study said. With the Fighting Hawks bringing home UND's eighth national men's hockey title in 2016, "no wonder Grand Forks consistently ranks as a top hockey town."

Towns with NCAA teams took nine of the top 10 spots in the study. The Vermont Catamounts in Burlington, Vt., landed its town in second place, and the Dartmouth Big Green in Hanover, N.H., ranked third. The AHL's Hershey Bears put Hershey, Pa., in fifth place.

The study's analysis did not include women's college or National Women's Hockey League teams.