November 22, 2017 - Binbrook, Ontario
The hockey scene in the Greater Hamilton area is a crowded one, with teams in the OHL, GOJHL, OJHL, and Allan Cup Hockey League all within a half hour's drive form downtown Hamilton. One of the longest standing programs in the region though has flown under the radar a bit, as the Glanbrook Rangers, about 20 minutes to the south and east, have been a stalwart at the Junior C level for over 40 years. Glanbrook Arena sits next to the Glanbrook Township building, and opened in 1975, at which time the Rangers were born. The arena sits back a bit from the road and has a large grassy lawn and some trees separating the building from the road. A marquee sign sits near the road, letting area fans know the next game time and upcoming opponent. The exterior of the arena is vintage 1970's, with a simple utilitarian look and a basic design. A lobby and entrance sits at one end of the arena, and features a brown brick facade with dark metal panels above the brick to add an accent. A large block letter sign bears the venue's name, and the building has a square shape and low profile. Entry into the building is through a small entryway with a metal awning and glass walls that juts out from the brick facade a bit. When walking around the side and rear of the arena you see it looks a bit weathered, and the walls on the rest of the building are gray cinder block walls. The arena has held up well for being over 40 years old however, and is a busy place for locals to enjoy skating and hockey. A large parking lot is on site, and crowds flock to the Rangers games for the traditional Wednesday night games, as all of the Rangers home contests are on Wednesdays. The Glanbrook Rangers are not likely a household name for most hockey fans outside of the area, but they have built a tradition of excellence playing at this simple, and nearly unchanged arena that is a classic example of a community arena constructed in the 1970's.
Upon entering Glanbrook Arena on game night for a Rangers game fans will find themselves in the small outer lobby of the arena. The outer lobby has a ticket and program table immediately inside the door, where tickets can be secured for $7. A few steps past the ticket table is the arena's food concession window, which serves a traditional menu you would expect at a community arena. Fans congregate here on game night waiting for the action to commence in the arena. The outer lobby also features a couple of old school touches, including a dry-erase standings board displaying the divisional standings, of which the Rangers were on top. The opponent for this game, the Simcoe Shamrocks were at the bottom of the pack with only 2 wins on the season so you could expect a rather one-sided game. Next to the standings board is a display of photos of the entire Rangers roster. This is a nice small town touch. Through a doorway is the inner lobby, which features a wall of trophy cases and has glass overlooking the ice where many fans choose to watch the game. A makeshift 2 row bleacher has been constructed in the lobby behind the ramp where disabled fans can watch from their wheelchairs. Community pride is evident here, as the trophy case is filled with not only Junior C trophies, but those of the local minor hockey organization as well. Entry into the arena itself is through another doorway, just past the 50/50 table set up in the inner lobby area. The arena features seating on one side, comprised of a concrete grandstand with blue wooden benches attached. The seating rises 9 rows high and runs the full length of the ice. There is no standing aisle above the stands as the seats extend to the wall of the arena. Large, red metal beams secure the low ceiling above the grandstand, and the beams behind the benches, which are across the ice from the stands, are painted blue. The low ceiling has a gradual arch to it, and is covered by silver insulation panels. The interior walls are white concrete, and the entire setup is basic, but provides for a well laid out venue for Junior C hockey. As in most of Ontario, netting is secured in front of the entire grandstand. An upper lobby on the end of the building serves as a beer garden and provides a place for fans to watch the action through a series of windows overlooking the ice. Really, Glanbrook Arena looks like many other 1970's and 1980's small town arenas, with seating on one side and an upper and lower lobby. It does have a homey feel however, and you can sense the history here as the arena has housed the same team since opening in 1975.
The game day experience for fans attending a Glanbrook Rangers game is an enjoyable one based on tradition. There is no flashy presentation or ancillary activities going on. The game itself takes center stage. The sight lines are decent despite the netting, and the simple scoreclock on one end is sufficient. There is no activity at intermission and fans head to the lobby to warm up and grab a snack and converse with their fellow fans as this is a small town, tight knit crowd who come together on Wednesday nights to cheer on the Rangers. The team does a good job with their sponsors as there are a number of lucky number program giveaways from businesses and restaurants as far away as Hamilton. With a seating capacity of 720 this is an intimate venue where fans are close to the action. The crowd of a couple hundred or so fans was comprised mainly of older folks, and with all games being on Wednesday nights it would be somewhat hard for families to attend with their children on a school night. The Rangers fans certainly support their team however, as a large percentage of the crowd was wearing some sort of team apparel. Announcements are made over a muffled PA system, and there is music during the stoppages, but the presentation is traditional and basic. The banners celebrating the team's successes over its 40-plus year history add character to the arena, and despite being a basic, old-school hockey barn Glanbrook Arena has a special feel to it. The game itself was a snoozer as you would predict when looking at the standings board in the lobby as the Rangers shut out the Simcoe Shamrocks 9-0. Junior C hockey often gets overlooked, but provides an entertaining brand of hockey that is revered is the small towns that host the teams. With midweek games being the norm fans have the opportunity to take in some quality hockey in Glanbrook, while still being able to follow one of the teams in the higher levels on the weekends if they so choose. We enjoyed our stop at this tiny arena and were glad to be able to experience a bit of the tradition that the Glanbrook Rangers have built upon for over 4 decades. .