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Don’t Forget the other Hockey Leagues

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 21, 2013

Maybe the Marlies are worth a visit as opposed to dropping hundreds of dollars on the Leafs

Maybe the Marlies are worth a visit as opposed to dropping hundreds of dollars on the Leafs

It’s a great time to be a sports fan. We have the NFL playoffs, the heart of college basketball season and of course, Hockey is Back! At least that’s what the NHL tells us. The league’s slogan is incorrect in that hockey has been going in many forms since autumn. Minor, College and Junior all have offered great games, players, teams and of course, arenas to enjoy the action. I am still quite mad at the NHL, however I know I’ll be back and suckered in like everyone else (as evidence by the numerous sellouts this weekend). We just keep feeding the machine and it seems to be a vicious circle with no end. Not saying I won’t be a part of that (TD Garden and the Boston Bruins are a possible stadium trip in March), but there are many other places to spend money and watch hockey. Below is a team/arena per league within an hour drive from an NHL city that is well worth a game:

AHL – Rochester Americans (Blue Cross Arena)……Just over an hour from Buffalo, Blue Cross is a worthy place to check out a game in one of the older buildings that still hosts hockey. Though the old War Memorial was renovated in the late 90s, there are still many reminders of the glory days when Don Cherry barked behind the bench.

ECHL – Colorado Eagles (Budweiser Events Center)……This is a team that has rapidly ascended up the minor-league latter as this is their second season in the AA ECHL. Games have constantly been packed (along with a paid attendance sellout streak ongoing) and the Eagles are doing quite well in Loveland.

CHL – Allen Americans (Allen Event Center)……Allen is only a half-hour outside of downtown Dallas, where the Stars play. The Americans are just a few years old, but they play in a newer building that is quite a treat to visit. Plus the city itself has many nice bars and restaurants.

NCAA – Boston University (Agganis Arena)……The region that best defines college hockey is New England and within a short ride on Boston’s train system (the T), fans can visit Northeastern, Harvard, Boston College or Boston University. I picked the Terriers because I’m hoping to visit in March and also because it provides a remarkable hockey experience.

OHL – Windsor Spitfires (WFCU Centre)……Just hop on the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit and the city of Windsor offers quality junior hockey in the form of the Spitfires. I was saddened to see old Windsor Arena close, but the WFCU Centre is a beautiful new modern building.

QMJHL – Quebec Remparts (Colisee du Pepsi
)……OK, so this one is a little more than an hour away from the nearest NHL city (Montreal). However, the 2.5 hour drive provides the opportunity to check out an old NHL building. This is where the Nordiques played and time may be ticking on the Colisee as the province plans on building a new arena to attract the NHL back.

WHL – Red Deer Rebels (ENMAX Coliseum)……My last recommendation is halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. Ignoring the corporate name for a second, Red Deer is a place to enjoy hockey in it’s finest Canadian roots. That personal, community feel is really what binds hockey and its fans and that is exemplified in this Western Canadian town.

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