February 2, 2013 - Lewiston, New York
The last stop on our 5-games-in-3-nights trip ended where it began. You see we stopped at Dwyer Arena before heading into Ontario to secure a ticket for this Saturday night matchup as well as get some photos. At game time we would find heavy lake effect snow conditions, so we are glad we stopped to check this place out earlier. Dwyer Arena sits on the campus of Niagara University, and was constructed in 1996. It is flanked by a large parking lot and has a modern look, with an entrance made up of an atrium featuring an entirely glass facade. Looking closer at the building you will find that the main arena structure itself has a metal pole barn type shape, with a steeply peaked roof. Some gray brickwork accents the front entrance, and there is a simple sign near the road indicating the arena's presence among the other campus buildings. We purchased out ticket at the box office, and had a rather drawn-out experience at the box office window, with it taking almost 15 minutes to secure a ticket, despite paying cash for our $12 ticket, and not being specific with our seat location choice. Nonetheless, Dwyer is a nice building which still feels new, and the Niagara Purple Eagles have been having some success here as they were ranked 17th nationally on the date of this game against Bentley. Aside from college hockey action this arena also hosted games during the 2011 World Juniors, which was primarily housed in nearby Buffalo. A large banner atop the stairway which leads to the seating area commemorates this event. The lower level of the lobby also features a merchandise shop, food concessions, and a seating area. There is a second ice pad within the building which can be accessed from the lower level as well.
To enter the actual arena on game night you proceed up a set of stairs from the lobby and pass a set of trophy cases which pay tribute the success of former Eagles alumni as well as teams of the past. The arena itself, although modern, is rather basic. After entering atop the seating area onto a wide concrete slab which serves as the concourse you find an ice pad which has 15 rows of seats on one side. We are not a fan of aluminum bleachers, and that is exactly what you will find at Dwyer Arena. Not only are the bleacher benches themselves aluminum, but the risers which make up the bleacher structure are also aluminum. This makes the seats rather cold and uncomfortable, and the structure rather noisy when folks walk up and down the aisles. The team benches are across the ice from the stands, and there is also a club section which features 4 rows of purple plastic chairback seats and a glassed-in lounge area behind it. This section was added in 2007. The basic amenities of the building seem a bit of a contrast from what, from the outside, appears to be a modern arena built to stand up to the current standards of newer arenas. The pressbox sits at center ice along the upper concourse and also has that "temporary construction" look to it as it appears to be some scaffolding set up with purple curtains draped below it to hide the structure. It does the trick however, and offers a good view I am sure. Various banners hang in the arena celebrating past team success, including a banner commemorating the team's 22 game home win streak from 2006 and 2007. The on-campus location of the arena is certainly a positive, and gives the students at Niagara U. something to do on cold, snowy nights like frequently experienced in this region.
The game experience at this Niagara game was not remarkable in itself, but did have some positives. The PA system is crystal clear, and the presentation includes intermission contests and giveaways. The student section, although small, does a great job of heckling opponents, and seems united in their cheers. The mascot spent a good amount time standing with the student fans, cheering on the Eagles. Purple painted hard hats, megaphones, and signs can be found among the crowd, and as the visiting team exits the ice at the far end of the arena hecklers gather along the railing to poke fun at the opponents. The horrid Bentley jerseys seemed to be the center of much of the jeers on this evening. There are some drawbacks to taking in a game here which we must mention. The slope of the seats is not nearly steep enough, thus making sight lines rather poor. In addition to the metal bleachers the place just has a cheap look to it, with chain link fence and railings on the end of the bleacher structure. Attendance for this game was listed at 824, but the crowd seemed to fill up much more than half of the arena, which has a listed capacity of 2,100 but only 1,400 seats and no actual standing room (we'll get into that in a moment). We are sure games against rival Canisius would be entertaining due to the rivalry. One other note if you attend a game at Dwyer Arena- be prepared for lots of rules and security. There were armed cops "guarding" the entrance to the club seat area, and although there as security, anyone who tried to pass through the lower entrance to the lobby to get a snack was turned away by the guard. Also there were at least a half dozen announcements over the PA indicating that "standing on the concourse was prohibited". It seems like they want everyone to have an equally poor view from the improperly sloped grandstand. Nonetheless it was a fun day of hockey with our second new arena of the day in the books, a 6-4 win for the Purple Eagles, and the lake effect snow still piling outside.
A box score of the game can be found Here
Additional information about the Niagara University Purple Eagles can be found at: Niagara Hockey Home
Additional information about Dwyer Arena can be found at: Arena Home
More photos of Dwyer Arena are available Here