November 16, 2013 - Burlington, Vermont
The T-shirt slogan states "what happens in Vermont stays in Vermont...but nothing ever happens in Vermont". Although this may be largely true as a whole there is certainly one thing that is a "happening" in Vermont, and that is UVM hockey, which has a large following not only in the Burlington area, but statewide as well. Named for 1912 Olympic track and field gold medal winner, and UVM alum Albert Gutterson, Gutterson Fieldhouse sits on the edge of campus near other athletic fields and facilities, and has a recognizable, arching hangar shape. The arena opened in 1963, and has been packed every hockey season since with rabid followers of Catamounts hockey, clad in green and gold. The focal point of the building is the black metal roof, which also serves as the side walls of the arching arena. Renovations in 1991 added additional seating and brought upgrades to the building, which now boasts a capacity of 4035. The entrance lobby is a sharp looking brick and glass structure added onto the end of the arena, and sports green tinted glass, the name of the arena, and a simple Catamounts "V" logo at one side. The fascia of the entrance end is a tan and brown concrete, and the brick structure squares off the area where the arching roof would meet the end wall. Although not the only arena with this profile and silhouette, "The Gut" as the arena is known, has a distinct look to it. There is an adjacent parking deck just steps away from the main entrance, and a second entryway to the building juts off of the side of the arena. The overall view of the arena is simple, yet well kept, and screams of old time hockey. Just inside the main entrance is an old fashioned box office area. A reserved seat for this televised matchup with Providence College cost $22. The UVM campus clearly seems to be the hub of the Burlington area, and college athletics, especially hockey, are the main attraction in these parts.
The parking lot and lobby filled up well before gametime with fans waiting for the doors to open. Once inside the arena itself the simple design finds doors opening up to the seating area, just past the main concession stand, which sits directly inside the main entrance. The is also a pair of stairways which lead to the landing on the grandstand on one end of the arena. There is a very nicely stocked team store which is run as an extension of the campus bookstore, and sits in the corner of the lower lobby providing a great selection of Catamounts gear. Once you pass into the arena itself you take a step back in time to a large degree. Wood in the prominent feature of the arena, with the entire arching ceiling being made up of wooden planks. Large metal support rafters are all painted green, but with the shape of the ceiling the wood extends down to the back of the seating area. Seating on the sides is made up of wooden bleachers, with 11 rows on each side of the ice. One side of the arena has an upper concourse aisle as the ice surface is offset within the building somewhat, allowing for fans to pass behind the upper row of seat on one side. The other side features seating that backs right up to the arching ceiling, and is accessed from an aisleway in front of the seats. The seats on the near end of the arena are chairback seats reserved for season ticket holders, and made up of 16 steeply pitched rows. The far end of the arena has wooden bleachers and is mainly reserved as the student section, and made up of 19 rows. The student section was quite full, and is properly positioned to allow merciless heckling of the opposing goalie for 2 periods. The Catamounts pep band occupies the corner section next to the student section and was rocking all night long. The ice surface is a touch wider than regulation size, at 90 feet wide. The glass surrounding the arena is very high all the way around, and is seemingly the only feature which can't claim the "old time hockey" tag. A simple center ice scoreclock has a message board at the bottom, but seems to fit nicely with the stylings of the arena. Banners commemorating the time that John LeClair and Tim Thomas spent in a Catamounts uniform are also prominently displayed. Gutterson Fieldhouse has a classic setup which fits perfectly with not only the college hockey atmosphere, but with the rural, small town images which one pictures when Vermont comes to mind. It may not be the newest or biggest arena in Hockey East, but with a full, boisterous crowd, and a throwback type of architecture it is certainly hard to argue that it provides one of the best settings to showcase the game.
Although "nothing ever happens in Vermont" a UVM hockey game is not merely a game, but an event. The atmosphere and gameday experience are top notch. The pep band is fantastic, and the crowd into the game and loud. The student section clearly leads the cheers, but the rest of the arena seems to follow suit. All of this takes place in a setting that is clearly the Catamounts own. Small touches like nearly every rafter, or piece of trim in the arena being colored green or gold adds to the united feel of the arena. Another nice touch is the upper lobby area which sits behind the end grandstand above the main lobby. This area is designated as the UVM Hockey Hall of Honor, and is chock full of memorabilia from past Catamounts teams, including murals of NHL jerseys of UVM alum including Thomas, LeClair, and Martin St.Louis, as well as many others. Many fans gather here between periods. The intermission atmosphere, although not as commercialized as most minor league games, has the minor league fan participation feel to it. There were push car races during intermission, as well as a fan favorite t-shirt toss, only it was the zamboni drivers doing the tossing. The PA is a bit muffled, the seats a bit cramped, and the sight lines having most of the seating on the ends are not ideal, but The Gut seems to have a personality of its own, and just feels like a special place to watch hockey. The fans and staff are also quite friendly and ready to strike up a conversation at any time. Providence ended up spoiling the night for the locals, taking a 3-0 win. The only downer to the atmosphere was that a large percentage of the crowd called it quits after Providence scored its third goal with five minutes left, leaving only half of the crowd of 3900 on hand for the last couple minute of play. This season marks the 50th season of Catamounts hockey at Gutterson Fieldhouse, and we hope that the desire to build a new arena is put off for a while so many more fans can enjoy a game in the arching confines of this fine, although intimate arena. As long as Gutterson Fieldhouse is the Catamounts home there will at least be something "happening" in Vermont.
A box score of the game can be found Here
Other information about University of Vermont hockey can be found at: Catamounts Hockey Home
Other information about Gutterson Fieldhouse can be found at: Arena Home
More photos of Gutterson Fieldhouse can be found Here