Welcome to JakeH28’s uniform hour, the series where I, local jersey designer JakeH28, talk about the aesthetics of sports! This edition is all about the ECHL, a minor hockey league with loads of personality. Me and a fellow jersey designer TJ each made a tier list for this league (minus the numerous specialty nights), and this article will discuss our thoughts. Without further ado, let’s get into the ranking!
Breaking down the ECHL tier list
The tier list has 5 tiers. S tier is the greatest. This is where the least amount of flawed designs are located, and the best of the best of the ECHL are here. A tier features jerseys that while nice to look at, need some minor tweaks to become truly great. B tier is plain average, without anything truly special. C tier is where the mediocrity lies. D tier is the worst of the bunch, with some truly bad looks.
The Adirondack Thunder revealed new jerseys for this upcoming season (the white and black sets on the right) but TJ and I decided against ranking them on the tier lists as we haven’t seen the full uniform yet, or any potential alternate sets either. TJ put both of the red and gray sets in A tier, while I put them in C tier. I see these as bland and below average, but they are clean and free of any extra junk which might be why TJ put them higher up. Perhaps the new set will be in the B tier in the next ranking, but as of now we still haven’t seen it.
The Allen Americans have some jerseys that are just plain mediocre. The red set gets a B from TJ and a C from me. The lack of navy blue just makes this look simple and incomplete. The white set gets a solid C from TJ while I put it in A tier. I like the full shoulder yolk design with subtle navy, but the whole thing looks somewhat bland. The alternate is perhaps one of the ECHL’s worst offerings according to TJ. My rankings have them as an average, forgettable jersey, but TJ says “There’s too much red, and the design looks weird. Why have 3 red, blocky stripes on the arms then have a white one?”
The Gladiators have some jerseys that a painfully average. I believe some of their older sets are a lot more interesting. The blue set got a B from both of us, and the white set managed to get a C from the both of us as well. The blue set has the unique design down one arm making it asymmetrical, but otherwise just is there to look good. The white set looks a lot more empty, and features no navy blue at all. Overall, this is a pretty good look, but it could use some updating.
The Cincinnati Cyclones have some fine offerings in the uniform department, but nothing is super special. The home doesn’t go with a full blackout/two-tone look and that just isn’t good, as well, it looks too similar to the actual blackout set they have. TJ put it in D tier, and I put it in B. The white set also isn’t special. I wish there was at least some black outlining to break up the red and white. It got the same rankings from me and TJ as the home. As for the alternate, TJ put in in D as he hates it, but I put it in A tier as I find it to be a solid blackout option.
The Florida Everblades got B’s all across the board, except for the gray set which got a C on TJ’s ranking. These are some average uniforms that succeed in not looking horrible, but fail at looking cool or amazing. The gray is a unique choice for the lighter color sweater, but it’s very simple with the design. The navy jersey is also fine, but has another simple design that isn’t outstanding. Nothing is special or unique, unlike the old green sweater which had teeth patterns and an overall better look. The green sweater is an S tier jersey in my opinion.
Fort Wayne Komets
The Fort Wayne Komets jerseys have always been in the upper echelon of ECHL sweaters. The black and white sets they currently wear are some of the more mediocre ones in franchise history. Diagonal text looks have to be executed almost perfectly to not be bad, and these ones are just fine. TJ and I put them both in B tier. The orange alternate is perfect. The mix of colors with a classic logo and incredibly solid design makes this an easy S tier jersey. The older home and away designs were much better than their current looks.
Greenville Swamp Rabbits
The Swamp Rabbits look is quite mediocre. The navy set got a C from TJ and a D from me. The logo isn’t consistent and the jersey design is plain and boring.The white set got the same rankings. Without any orange, another inconsistent logo and a bad design, this one is just bad. The orange set got an A from both of us. It’s a solid but simple design that uses the team colors well, but is not a top look in the ECHL which keeps it from being S tier. Note to the Swamp Rabbits: Consistency helps!
TJ and I agreed on the Idaho Steelheads rankings, putting the home and away uniforms in C tier while the alternate gets A tier. I feel like the main home and away should’ve picked a design to go with rather than mash up the stripes and trees. Not only do they look busier than they need to be, but there’s hardly any color on them at all. The blue alternate is a much better design. There’s color and typical stripes that make it look good. If it have a simple shoulder yolk to balance it all out, I may have put it in S tier.
The Indy Fuel have some average jerseys with nothing that’s amazing but nothing that’s horrible. The Home set is a blackout uniform. Usually, I’d like something like this, but this shouldn’t be the home uniform. It gets put in the C tier by both of us. The white set is fine but isn’t anything exciting. It gets a B, as it’s a solid uniform, but nothing truly great. The alternate gets an A from TJ and a B from me. The off white is fine, but I would’ve preferred a red set instead. I just see it as unnecessary, and it looks just fine.
The Iowa Heartlanders have some pretty average uniforms. The home set managed to get a B ranking from me and an A from TJ, while the away got a B from me, and a C from TJ. I find the design to be quite nice, but it lacks color. The yellow striping isn’t enough to stop this from looking too grayscale. I do like the away set’s shoulder yolk, as it keeps everything balanced, but it’s still a fairly bland jersey. The alternate is a different design suffering from the same problems. It’s average all around, and got a B from both of us.
The Jacksonville Icemen have a varying look, and this is reflected in a varying score. The home uniform gets an A from both of us. Not only is the design pretty slick, the jersey uses a pretty neat color scheme. The away set manages to get a D ranking, as it looks old and outdated, as well as having a very bottom heavy black and navy striping design. The black alternate isn’t a true blackout uniform with diagonal text. It looks fine enough for both of us to put it in B tier.
Kansas City Mavericks
The Mavericks’ uniforms are quite mediocre. The home and away got C’s all around, except the home, which got a B from TJ. The center stripe looks is just fine, but the lack of a real logo is weird to me.They look so bland. I quite like their orange alternate, although TJ put it in C tier. I find the silver to be out of place, but otherwise this is a great alternate set that should be the main set for the Mavericks.
The Kalamazoo Wings have a simple jersey design that looks so good. While it’s not a very unique design like the old home, away and alternate, it’s still a very solid look. The home got A’s all around while the away got a B from me, and an A from TJ. I just like the color scheme, but even a simple shoulder yolk would raise both to S tier for me. As well, I’d appreciate a consistent blue alternate design.
The Maine Mariners jerseys are quite solid looks, at least the home and away. The home uniform got an A from both of us, but if it had more white it could be an S tier set. The away got a C from TJ and a B from me. It’s nothing special, but the arm stripes could’ve used some green in the center. The alternate just looks weird with the different color scheme. This makes it good for a C tier ranking from me and TJ.
The Newfoundland growlers have a very solid look. The black and gold works well, similar to the New Orleans Saints. The home uniform gets an A from both of us, as it’s a clean look. Perhaps a false shoulder yolk like the away jersey has would make it an S tier set. The away got a B from both of us. It’s simple, but the false shoulder yolk doesn’t look as good as it might with the home set. The alternate got A’s all around. It’s a solid blackout that full of detail and nods to the history of Newfoundland. TJ finds it poorly contrasted, but I find it to be a solid blackout look, which I always dig.
Norfolk has some jerseys that have a solid foundation, but are mediocre at best. The home and away got a B from me, while the away got a C from TJ. I think it’s a solid look, nothing exceptional, nothing horrible. Sometimes that’s better than the alternative or being awful trash. Speaking of, the alternate has a case to be made as one of the worse looks in the ECHL, as evidenced by my D tier ranking and TJ’s C ranking. I find the yellow to be ugly, and the blue doesn’t exactly mesh well for a two-tone jersey, as well as the slightly unconventional striping pattern.
Orlando Solar Bears
Not only do the Orlando Solar Bears have one of the coolest names, they also have some very cool looks to go along with. The purple and orange is a solid combo, and the Solar Bears do it quite well. The purple home jersey gets an S tier from both of us, due to cool colors and a nice looking jersey pattern. The away placed in A for me, and B for TJ. It’s a lesser design, but still an awesome one. The gray alternate is fairly forgettable. The jersey crest is boring and none of the unique colors make their way onto the set. It ranks in C tier for both of us.
Rapid City Rush
The Rapid City Rush have a fairly solid look. The home uniform got an A from me but a C from TJ. I think it’s a solid blackout that looks good, but fails as a typical home jersey. It would belong as an alternate. The away gets A’s all around. I think that it does enough to look interesting while not being busy, something many away jerseys fail to do. The red alternate gets B’s from both of us. I find it to be a forgettable look that just doesn’t do much for me. Do away with the diagonal text and it’s a solid A tier.
In my opinion, the Reading Royals have some of the most boring looks in the ECHL. I put both sweaters in C tier, while TJ put the home in A tier. I find the striping pattern to be boring and the colors to overall be a worse version of Orlando’s. The logo on the away jersey doesn’t even look all that good, and there’s no dark color at all. A blackout alternate jersey would at least make the look a tad more interesting.
Savannah Ghost Pirates
Me and TJ have been able to agree on a lot of things, but when every jersey gets into the same tier all around, you know that this must be a special look. Every jersey from the Ghost Pirates got an A tier ranking. The home look is solid with a solid mix of green and white, and the black is used quite well to break up the large colors. The away sweater is a solid chest stripe look that could use a little more black to balance it all out. The lime green might be an unpopular color, but I find it works very well with the stripes.
South Carolina Stingrays
Dear South Carolina: Being creative and unique is a positive trait that leads to positive rankings. Being lazy and copying some of the most ugly sweaters in the ECHL, will net you all D’s (except the alternate, which got a C from TJ.) Of all the NHL looks to copy, the Capitals outdated design is not one to copy. The logo is cool, but it’s stuck on this. As for the alternate, it fails at looking good with that crest, which belongs on bad basketball jerseys.
Holy Toledo, you have some great jerseys! Poor joke aside, I really do like what Toledo has going on here. The main home uses a popular shade of blue called powder blue, and while I don’t always like it, it’s done very well here and gets an S tier from both of us. The away is a great look, with the unique template making things interesting. It gets A’s all around. the yellow alternate is a solid look, getting an S from TJ and an A from me. I feel with white in the striping, it would be great.
The other uniform is the blackout uniform. It gets an S tier from me for using the cool template while also being a true alternate look. I really like most blackout looks in sports, and this one is one of my favorites. TJ put it in A tier, which is still solid. Good job to the Walleye.
Trois Rivieres Lions
Someone designed these. The “Three-Rivers Lions” are a new team to the ECHL, as they played their first season in 2021. Their uniforms have stunk so bad ever since. They are very plain, but what little striping there is is weird and horrible. It starts suddenly and then gets halted by a perpendicular stripe than just looks bad. the sudden start also happens with the stripe under the sleeves. This gets D’s all around.
The Tulsa Oilers have a boring look that just isn’t good. The home got a C from me and a D from TJ, while the away got a D from both of us. It looks bland and outdated, with a color scheme and a template coming from an era far different than the present. That color scheme and piping on the front show it. The alternate is a prime example of why pinstripes don’t belong in hockey, getting a D from Tj and a C from me. The white and green look is largely forgettable, but it is the best sweater in the set. It gets a B from TJ and a C from me.
Speaking of outdated looks that sit in the bottom of the barrel, the Utah Grizzlies are just that. The home and away sit in D tier for both of us. There’s no green jersey and the design feels very disjointed. This design just doesn’t look good at all. The blackout alternate gets a C from both of us as well. I like two-tone blackouts more than TJ, but we can both agree that this one doesn’t do it very well. The third alternate should’ve been a green jersey, but instead it’s a mediocre “affiliation” sweater. It only gets a C from me for not looking horrible, but it earned a D from TJ.
The Wheeling Nailers seem weirdly average with their uniform set. I like the home, but it feels like a busier version of the Penguins jersey so it sits in B for me, A for TJ. The away set has little yellow, but is a solid look. I put in in B tier as well as TJ. It could be so much better with some of the yellow. The red alternate is a fine look, but I find it forgettable in the grand scheme of things. It gets B’s all around.
The Wichita Thunder are an average, well rounded team when it comes to their looks. Each and every uniform got a B from both of us, marking another time where we agreed on everything. The home and away look like carbon copies of the Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys (which is odd considering how they aren’t affiliated) and that’s not really good. Older looks featured multiple colors and different striping designs. The blackout is cool, and I was tempted to put it in A tier, but ultimately decided against it as the numbers ruin the two tone look.
Despite a simple color scheme featuring only black silver and gray, Worcester manages to make it work. The home and away uniforms got A’s all around, as it’s a solid center stripe look that just looks clean and solid. It does everything that it needs to do to avoid looking bad and boring. The alternate is just different enough, using an orange color scheme and a different logo, but isn’t anything too crazy. It gets an A from me, and a B from TJ.
Final thoughts on the ECHL uniform tier list
Making this was a fun journey as I discovered sweaters I didn’t even know existed. TJ being a big ECHL fan made this list pretty special and awesome. I hope you enjoyed reading and seeing it as much as we did making it, and we hope you’ll stay tuned to Shady Sports for all things sports.
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