Boston University- I don't care if the Canadiens are playing the Bruins at the Garden-if you get a chance to go to Agganis to see BC-BU, you better go. These are the type of games that make college hockey what it is- the place is bumping, the building is beautiful, and you can sense the disdain both teams have for each other just by watching the on ice product. Parking can be difficult, I usually go to Walter Brown Arena and look for a spot around there. The food is the best in the league but also the most expensive.
Lowell- Definitely one of the top rinks in Hockey East. Like BU and UNH, Tsongas is a "pro" rink but it lacks a rowdy crowd the Wildcats and Terriers. Food isn't bad but the only place to park is in the garage and it can take a long time to get out. I'd definitely try to make the trip if you have the chance but be sure to leave early as the traffic getting up there can be real bad.
Providence- The new additions at Schneider Arena are spectacular and the hype surrounding the program is tremendous not only for their school but for the league. About an hour before game time, there were at least 300 students wrapped around the building waiting in line for a ticket. They have great seating, solid concessions, and easy parking, making it a great forty five minute trip from Chestnut Hill. Highly recommended.
UNH-Another fantastic rink. BC and UNH have had a pretty good rivalry going lately so the fans in Durham are very into the games. The cooliest part of The Whit is when they throw the fish onto the ice when UNH scores. BC usually plays very well here so when your taking the long walk to parking lot make sure you keep near the Eagle crowd because the Wildcat faithful will be all over you. Durham House of Pizza is the place to be before any game. Just two minutes from the Whit.
Merrimack- Much better rink then I was expecting. Yes, the rink itself is a dump but the crowd is great. Not really any food here so make sure you eat before the game. Parking here is OK, make sure you get there early to ensure a good slot. I enjoyed watching the games here because the crowd is very into the games, Fudruckers right across the street make sure you stop in
Northeastern- OK, anyone would pick a BU BC game over a BC NU game, but seriously if you get a chance to watch the Eagles play here you better go. Matthews is such a historic place, you feel special just being there. There are a couple of downsides to the place, though. Number one is its very hard to get tickets as it is always sold out for the Eagles. Number two is the crowd can be nasty so keep your distance. If you have the chance to, make sure you go up to the balcony because the view from up there is cool. Winning in this building is always tough but it doesn't get much better than walking out on top.
UMass- Just a whole lot of "Ehh". It's a large arena (sits more than anywhere else in Hockey East). The student section is pretty into the game but the top half of the seating bowl is pretty empty (at least it was last year). BC has played well here in the past but last year was just a disaster as the Eagles played their worst two games of the year in the building. I've got nothing for food.
Maine- Awesome. The best college hockey atmosphere I have ever been a part of. The fans make the BU fans look nice and smart. I have never seen a crazier bunch of "maniacs" in my life. Every person there just loves the Black Bears and is not afraid to show it. Their hall of fame there is also very cool to look at. They have a great history at that program and it is all shown in the hall of fame. It is an EXTREMELY long and dark ride but if you are that crazy (like me) I would definitely recommend traveling up to "The Alfond". Keep your distance though, these fans are insane.
Vermont- "The Gut" is a pretty cool place to watch a hockey game. The trip up to Burlington is rather long, much like Maine, but is worth the trip. It is pretty similar to Matthews and Alfond in the sense that it's a pretty small barn but has a great atmosphere. I got to sit in the press box which is really cool because it hangs right over the ice and you can see everything very well. The fans @ UVM are very good and the food is also very good compared to other Hockey East rinks. In terms of things to see, they have pretty cool banners in rink commemorating some of their Stanley Cup winners. It has been a tough year for UVM so on a good year, I think the crowd would be much more electric than it was on Friday.
UConn- I may be in the minority on this one but for an opposing fan, the XL Center is one of the top venues in Hockey East. It offers terrific sight lines from the balcony, quality food, the place is always buzzing for BC, and the parking is easy. Hartford offers a ton of high food options if you're into that sort of thing. The only downside is that the internet is horrible. If UConn wants to become one of the top programs in the league, they're going to need a place close to campus because no other team in the league plays 45 minutes away from campus.
Other Rinks where I have seen the Eagles play
Harvard- To be perfectly honest, I love seeing BC play at the Bright Center. When you take a seat, you are right up near the ice and can even hear the players talking to each other. The crowd at Harvard is always bad, and the food isn't great but it is cool being right up near the action and the parking isn't to bad.
Dartmouth- Thompson Arena is a pretty nice and spacious arena I thought. It has a bunch of seats so it is pretty hard to fill them all up but it is a pretty nice rink, very much like UNH. The campus of Dartmouth is spectacular, and is definitely worth taking time looking around. Downsides are the food is terrible and there is really no crowd.
Yale- Known as "The Whale", Ingallis Rink is definitely a must visit. Like Harvard, you are right up near the ice so you can hear the action and it is quite a sight on the outside with it's unique shape. If you get a chance, take a walk around campus because it is very nice with it's gothic structures. Make sure to stop at York St Pizza. Great place to watch a game.
Joe Louis Arena- Going to "The Joe" for the GLI was quite a blast. The rink itself is pretty old inside and out but is very historical due to all the success of the Detroit Red Wings. Compared to The Garden, it is smaller and not as nice but is still a very cool place to watch a hockey game. I thought the BU faithful was the craziest, well then I ran into Michigan fans. Overall, really enjoyable experience even though Detroit is not the nicest city in the world. Would definitely recommend taking a trip if BC or the Bruins were going out there.
Yost Arena. I have never watched a game here but man would it be cool to. It is kind of an old fashion rink, kind of like Alfond Arena only bigger. UM is an awesome place to walk around take a tour. Would recommend going to "The Big House" as Well.
TD Garden- You know every game @ the Garden is going to have huge implications. Whether it's NCAA, Hockey East, or Beanpot, it seems like every game we play here comes down to the final minutes of regulation. I think it's the venue is perfect for a big time tournament, especially when BC and BU get together. It's not as nice as Tampa Bay or Pittsburgh but it's certainly one of top sporting venues in the nation/
Tampa Bay Times Forum- Just a beautiful place. I thought that since it was Florida, it would not be such a great place to have the Frozen Four. I was dead wrong. I loved Tampa for multiple reasons whether it was the food, golf, hockey rink, or just the fact that you're in Florida. Great idea by the NCAA to have the event there. Hope to see it there again soon. The rink is also awesome. Very similar to the Garden.
Mariucci Arena- By far the best college hockey venue I have ever been in. Hockey in Minnesota is a religion and the people there sure love their Gophers. Food is as good as you'd have in an NHL rink, the seats are tilted towards the ice, the fan experience is awesome, and it's just an overall great rink. Would love to see BC try and design a rink like this someday. Only downside is the weather. Highly recommend going out if BC plays two.
CONSOL Energy Center/Pittsburgh- I went to the Steel City with relatively low expectations considering the fact everyone was telling me the city wasn't worth the visit. After a couple days in the Burgh, I can tell you it's actually a city worth visiting for a Bruins/Patriots/BC Football game. The people are extremely generous, the food is phenomenal (Primanti Brothers for the win), and every citizen of the city walks around with either a Steeler or Penguin jacket on. They love their sports and take great pride in their city. I recommend visiting Heinz Field and PNC Park. Both are beautiful sporting venus.
Meehan Auditorium- Just a forty five minute drive from Kelly Rink, Meehan isn't a a half bad place to watch a hockey game, at least from it's center ice press box. The rink itself is very old and is not as spacious as some of the rinks in Hockey East but it's what you would expect for a program like Brown. I would expect them to make some updates to it soon because parts of it are deteriorating. The worst part about it is the parking. We had to park a long ways away from the rink itself. There is no parking garage or lot, just have to find a spot on the street. It's in the nice section of Providence, food is OK, not great.
Philly- Overall, my visit to the Wells Fargo Center was short and disappointing. The venue itself seems extremely large and very high from the bottom seating bowl but for the Frozen Four, it was not a tremendous venue mainly because Philadelphia is not a college hockey town. Sure, Philly is a hockey crazed city but I would not like to see another Frozen Four here simply because it is not rich in college puck tradition. The city isn't really worth the visit in my opinion, it's pretty boring and dirty but I am a biased Penguins fan talking about the city the arch rival plays for so take it for what it's worth.
RIT- Since the Eagles and Tigers did not play @ RIT's on campus rink, I can only offer my opinions on Blue Cross Arena, Rochester's equivalent to the DCU Center. I thought the atmosphere and noise were both unreal and it's certainly a city that has great roots when it comes to hockey. On the negative side, it's on the other side of New York and it's not the nicest city but it was better than I expected. I don't know if BC will schedule a game there very often but I would only go out if it were two games.
Denver- Magness Arena is a bit of an average rink for a top end program like DU but the city of Denver is certainly the nicest I have ever visited. The views of the Mountains are tremendous and there a dozens of picturesque national parks you can pick from. In terms of the arena and the atmosphere, they were both pretty average to be honest. The student section isn't into it and thus it's a relatively quiet place for a road game. All in all, it is a terrific city and I would recommend attending a Broncos game if they're in town while your there.
Notre Dame- It's almost a right of passage for any BC alum/student/fan to make the hike to South Bend because of the long standing rivalry between the only two catholic schools in the FBS but even if the football squad isn't playing, make the trip out here for hockey. Compton Family Ice Arena is a terrific model that BC could try and build a rink off of someday. Not only is it beautiful on the inside but it's gothic architecture makes it blend right in with the rest of the campus. The obvious downside when it comes to Notre Dame is the travel. It's an absolute hike and when they say it's in the middle of nowhere, they were not lying. In the end, next time BC football and hockey and are playing out here, make the trip. If you're a lunatic like me, you can always come out just for the hockey.
Army- I've been fortunate to visit some of the nicest campuses in the country throughout my time writing this blog but none compares to West Point. I am not sure if BC is going to schedule this game again but if they do, make sure you go. The campus is full of history at every corner, it runs parallel to the Hudson River, and is home to some of the nicest people you will ever meet. We saw the Cadets march on the commons in the middle of campus, something they do every Saturday, and it was truly one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. We stayed at the Thayer Hotel which is about a half mile away from the rink and the rest of campus. Tate Rink is certainly the nicest Atlantic Hockey rink I have been to. The seats are positioned so that you feel like you are looking down on the ice from high above the surface. Credit to Army for building such nice facilities, both for hockey and other sports.
RPI- A program full of rich tradition, RPI's Houston Field House is, in my estimation, an average hockey rink. The seats were made of wood, you can't really walk around the rink, heck it looked like the visiting locker rooms were a mile away from the playing surface. I did not get to see the campus but from what I hear, it's not bad at all. The parking in Troy is horrible. Unless you have a season ticket holders pass, you have to park about a half mile from the rink, up a daunting hill. It's not the most visually appealing rink as they had a giant blue curtain all across the north end. Not sure if I would recommend this one but others certainly find it a fun road trip.
Colorado College- To put it nicely, Colorado Springs isn't Chestnut Hill. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find two more different cities in this country. If BC is playing in Colorado and you want to go, make sure the games are against Denver, not CC. Visiting Pikes Peak was a cool experience but the longer you're in Colorado Springs, the more you realize there isn't much to do. Colorado World Springs Arena is a nice venue that I am sure gets loud when packed but unfortunately, CC has fallen on some tough times and the atmosphere was not top notch.
How I rank the Hockey East road trips-
2. Notre Dame