With college hockey so prevalent in my part of the country (the Northeast), I was surprised that it took until Visit #155 for me to see a college hockey venue. Now a decade ago, I spent plenty of time at the old barn (Romney Fieldhouse) watching Oswego State hockey, but that place barely held 1000. What better way to kick off a new genre of venues than at the home of the 2013 National Champions, Yale. The drive to New Haven is always a pain thanks to I-95 and I left work on a Friday, right at 1 PM so I could avoid rush hour and get some outdoor shots. Hoping for a long-term relationship, I would be testing out my new Nikon CoolPix P530 as an upgrade to my Canon Powershot A590 that served me so well over the years.
It was around 3:30 when I reached Yale’s urban campus in New Haven, where parking is sucks. I had to swallow my pride to use a garage that would cost me $9 for just two hours. This was my second venture through the area and what a remarkable campus it is with beautiful buildings and an incredible tree-lined street in the middle of a city. The afternoon sprinkles paused just enough for dry pictures to be taken of Ingalls Rink, an architectural marvel created by Eero Saarinen. His 1950s design is a humpback shape that explains why the rink is called “The Whale”. This is certainly the defining feature of the arena and it gives the building unique character.
With gates not opening for another few hours, there was a little time to kill and somehow in a busy place I found myself alone at each stop. First, I passed the New Haven Museum, where I convinced the front desk to let me in for free with less than an hour until closing time. In a very quiet building, there was time to check out the history of the region, while the other portion of the museum was art (boring). From there, I walked down Whitney Ave for a quick bite, looking specifically for pizza, which is a staple of New Haven. Town Pizza would have to suffice and again there was nobody there (a little concerning at 5 PM, though I know its early). The salad was good and the pizza was ok, but nothing spectacular. Glad I used the bathroom after I ate instead of getting an impression of the place beforehand as yikes was it run down. I knew this was the best option in the walking area and it reluctantly had to do.
Then it was game time and I moved my car to the garage next to the arena for $5. Inside, the seating swails like the outside, where there are a good amount of seats in the middle before lowering around the corners and ends. It’s all wooden benches, so not the most comfortable, but they have been refurbished. Many choose to stand behind the seating bowl and this certainly offers the better view of the ice. That architecture uniqueness shows off inside too, where there seems to be oceanic ebbs and flows to the designs and walkways. The notable roof remains interesting to note throughout. While the surface area of the building is tiny, a recent renovation in 2010 added space and hallways below the seating bowl and Yale did an excellent job of filling this section with history and displays. That’s where you can always suck me in. As we got close to puck drop, the crowd was very slow to arrive, but eventually, they filled about 85% of the seats. While Ingalls is noisy acoustic-wise, it doesn’t really come from the fans, who mostly resign to “ooohs”, “ahhhs” and the occasional roar during a goal. Yale dominated the shot total for the first few periods and they built a 2-0 lead. Each time RPI cut it to one, the Bulldogs were there to push it back to two. In the end, the Elis pulled away 5-2 with the team ending the game saluting the crowd. This was a nice introduction to the college hockey world and I’m looking forward to more in the coming years. Look for a detailed review next week and an updated Stadium Journey entry.