About the Guide



Sault


I love hockey rinks. Actually, I love stadia of all descriptions. I love ballparks for their quirky individualism, and I even love the grand scale of a football stadium, even though I am not a fan of football itself. I've often said that I'd love to visit all 30 MLB ballparks, or all 30 NHL arenas, but that is a task for none but the wealthiest and most committed of fans. However, the peculiar Canadian institution of junior hockey is probably my favourite sport of them all, and since the farthest OHL drive from London is the Sault, only 670 KM away, I committed myself in early 2002 to visiting all 20. I finished the league three years later, on January 23, 2005.

Hockey arenas can be as different as night and day. The experience of visiting the old, insane Windsor Arena is entirely different from visiting the mini-NHL arenas in Ottawa or London, which again is different from the middle-aged rinks in Saginaw or Erie. Every one has its own personality, its own style, its own spirit. Travelling to away games is one of the great pleasures of the OHL. I believe most people who have attended sporting events in more than one venue recognize that the personality of sports is different from town to town and venue to venue, and those changes in personality and culture are what still keep me coming back. Yes, the games are important, but when you attend a sport, there are a lot of other factors that make up your evening, and it's those things on the periphery that have always drawn me in.

In small countries like England, there are thousands of soccer fans who travel to every away game because the distances are short. Away fans actually have their own sections set aside in opposing stadiums. That is relatively impossible in North American professional sport, due to the distances, but in the OHL we can travel, and by and large we do. The game is richer for it.

I became convinced of the need for a guide like this in the fall of 2002 by my posting on the New OHL Open Forum. Every week people start threads asking for directions to rinks or information about arenas. I thought a single source would be helpful for OHL fans. The site launched in the fall of 2003, and over time, that original genesis has turned into the sprawling labour of love you see both here and at QMJHLArenaGuide.com, chronicling the history and culture of the game through my travels all over Ontario, Quebec, the U.S., and Atlantic Canada in pursuit of junior hockey. I hope you enjoy it.


What do I Look For in an Arena?

Simply put, atmosphere. Good facilities are a plus, but in order for the arena to attach itself to my heart, it needs to have a little bit of soul. Loud, passionate fans are a must; the place had better not be antiseptic. The corporate NHL is slowly killing off the blue-collar support that teams have traditionally had, and this trend is slowly spreading to the OHL. Whether the arena is new or old, it needs to have a heart.


Sections of the Guide:
What's the Arena Like?

This section will provide basic information about the arena itself: the layout, good and bad seats, architecture, etc.

Future Developments:

This section will tell if there are renovations scheduled for the building, or if it's going to be pulled down and replaced entirely.

What's It Like for Away Fans?

Part of the travelling experience is the way different fans in different cities treat foreign interlopers. Why are fans in one city nice while fans in a different city are hostile? It's good to know if you'll be treated well by the opposing fans or if they'll throw things at you. It's also best to know this before you go, and this will help you know. This section only is accurate, though, assuming you're relatively polite and well-behaved; if you're a jerk on the road you deserve everything you get. Also, be aware that the reception you get in an arena may be different than what I got - be aware of who your local rivals are and act accordingly.

How to Get There:

Simple: Directions to the arena. Most directions are given from the main highways.

Admission Prices:

How much a ticket will set you back.

Franchise History:

This section traces the history of each team, and all the cities through which the team has moved over the years.

Retired Numbers:

The numbers which proudly hang from the rafters of OHL arenas, celebrating the league's rich heritage.

Local Rivals:

If you're interested in going to a game in which your team isn't playing, how do you decide? The best contests are the ones featuring the best rivalries. Watch Gens-Petes instead of Gens-Greyhounds for a sense of the real spirit of the team and their fans.

About the City:

This section is designed to give travelling fans perspective on the communities they're visiting. OHL cities are more than just their arena. Part of the fun of travelling to road games is travelling around the province of Ontario plus two US states, and seeing new places that you might not otherwise have seen. The city guides share information about population, infrastructure, notable sights, and what it's like to live in the city, both good and bad. I tried to provide a "real" perspective that would be different from the standard tourist board "everything is great" view. I am still missing a City Guide from Sudbury and St. Catharines; if you live there and are interested in contributing, please email me at email






Kudos:

Thanks to anyone who has ever contributed to this website, regardless of whether or not I've ultimately used it. Every one is appreciated. It's the fan contributions that make this site great.

Thanks to friends and fellow road warriors, including: Don Aldridge, Josh Anderchek, Brian Barton, RJ Beaumont, Adam & Nick Bruckschwaiger, Jason Cormier, Todd Faber, Peter Farrell, Matt Gallien, Stephen Gardiner, Tyler Hetherington, Jason Hodgson, Craig Howlett, Trevor Jones, Jeff Z. Klein, Scott King, Andrew Kulyk, Eric Lande, John Landers, Rob Matic, Ryan MacDonald, John MacIsaac, Chris Mayberry, Jamie McGhee, Steve McLean, Patrick McNeil, Simon Moroniewicz, Bernie & Guy Payne, Karl-Eric Reif, Andrew Ritter, Neate Sager, Barry Shepherd, Joe Tasca, Richard Taylor, Brian Thompson, Terry Wirick, and anyone who's ever attended a NOOF-a-palooza.

Gigantic thanks to Paul and Benjamin Benkert of Saginaw and their company, Peak Performance PC Services, for providing web hosting. I owe you big-time.

Special thanks to Chris Beach. No one else in the world would have been so willing to go to Val-d'Or (or the abandoned mine) for no good reason.

Finally, thanks to Julie for being possibly the only woman in the world even more into ballparks than I am. We'll hit all 30 someday.





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