Even though many of the league’s rinks aren’t large enough to be on The List, I still keep taking opportunities to watch the NCAA’s Atlantic Hockey, a conference usually shoved to the back-burner when it comes to national discussion. Yet, it’s an underrated, quality league that I enjoy and I had my best experience yet in the conference with a game at Army. This was my fourth time visiting West Point as I’ve seen games at Michie Stadium and Christl Arena, while the other visit was to bring my Dad to tour the area and campus. It really is a special place and I highly recommend going out of the way to spend a day here so that you can do the Visitors Center, the Camps Tour and the West Point Museum. Autumn is the best time of year as the hilly/leafy scenery is breathtaking. West Point isn’t the actual nearby town as that is Highland Falls and it has an older vibe that is common with other towns in this part of the Hudson Valley. There’s not too many places to eat, so I settled for dinner at The Park, a diner that I’ve been to before. The people are nice, while the basic food can be best described as “ok”.
After dinner, I entered campus through the Stony Lonesome Gate and drove down the hill to the Holleder Center, which contains both the basketball arena and hockey rink. Parking is adequate, but it’s an awkward layout that meant it took a little time exit after the game. It’s also a walk that contains a lot of stairs (there is an area further down where the handicapped can park without trouble). Inside, the shared concourse has a disjointed circular center where food is sold and then it branches off to each arena. There are plenty of displays that honor the great people that went here and played for the program. Tate Rink is simple in seating as only the sides feature places to watch as they are split between bleacher in the top half and chairback in the bottom half. While it was a tight fit, I loved how steep the seating was and this was one of the few places I’ve been to that literally makes it feel like you are right on top of the ice. In addition, to the great sightlines, the first couple rows start higher up as opposed to beginning at ice level. One side features beginning seats that are about 10 feet directly above the players bench.
Fans filled the place up pretty good as it became about 80% full, meaning a crowd of around 2,000 for the final home game. They were into the game and created a decent atmosphere on Senior Day, though regular-season winners AIC spoiled the fun as they skated to a 4-1 win. The Black Knights have never won the post-season tournament (and thus, never been to the NCAAs), however they go in to this year’s event as the #4 seed and will get to host a quarterfinal series in a couple weeks. After the game, seniors were honored with the playing of the Alma Mater and we wish them all the best moving forward and thank them for their future service in this country.