Roaming The Rinks

One hockey fan's journey to the arenas of North America

Plus/Minus Arena Report:  2018-2019 Junior Hockey Part 1

Just like the last couple seasons we will update you on arena and franchise changes so that you can optimize your travels and keep informed on new arena options.  We will start with junior hockey, in what has been a relatively quiet offseason as far as relocations go.  We will cover the 3 leagues in the CHL, the USHL, and include the NAHL in this report.  As always, we hope you will find this information useful and allow you to plan your travels well.

QMJHL - Minus  -  Moncton Coliseum, Moncton, NB

The Q will see the same 18 clubs take the ice as the last few seasons.  Moncton's Wildcats will no longer skate in the Moncton Coliseum, one of the least appealing buildings from an exterior standpoint, but a great place to watch a game with a history filled interior and raucous fans. 

Plus - Moncton Events Centre, Moncton, NB

Moncton will see a new venue open in the downtown area and will hopefully capture a bit of the vibe at the old Coliseum, and will surely contain modern amenities which will be a welcome change for Wildcats fans.  Moncton is a supportive hockey city with passionate fans, and embodies the bi-lingual East Coast of Canada.   

Moncton Coliseum was home of the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats since 1995, and previously hosted the AHL

OHL - Even

In Ontario it will be a season without any changes in arenas or franchises.  There are ramblings of Brantford seeing a team sometime in the future, but for now all 20 teams are relatively stable and will remain in their respective homes for this upcoming season. 

WHL - Even

Out west things will also stay the same as last season, with the same 22 clubs in their same venues.  Overall the entire CHL is in good shape, although it is questionable how the smaller market teams can keep up with the high profile franchises, but each season they do, with last year's Memorial Cup a great example of small market competitiveness.

USHL - Even

America's top junior league continues to be dependable and slow to change, all while offering an excellent level of play.  The league will again field 17 teams in their same respective arenas.

Bonus Plus - UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, Cranberry Township, PA

This newer arena complex in the Pittsburgh area is the practice facility for the NHL's Penguins.  It had previously been used for USHL preseason action, but this year will see the regular season start here with each of the 17 teams taking the ice here in games that count in the standings.  Both rinks will be used for USHL action, known as the Dicks Sporting Good Rink and the FedEx Rink.  The four day showcase kicks off on September 27th and provides eastern fans a great opportunity to see a bunch of games in a league that is a midwestern circuit.   

Northwest Arena in Jamestown, NY will hosts its 6th different franchise since 2003 as the NAHL Rebels have moved here from Philadelphia

NAHL - Minus - Class of 1932 Arena,  Philadelphia, PA
The Philadelphia Rebels made a go of it in the big city and marketed heavily, but the crowds never came, and the team had similar attendance to their previous home in Aston, PA, with a lot more expense and hassle in the city.  The Rebels will be in a new home this season, and Class of 1932 Arena will go back to hosting ACHA club hockey.

Minus - Green Island Ice Arena,  La Crosse, WI

The Coulee Region Chill are moving to Chippewa Falls, WI, and La Crosse will retain the Chill name but at the NA3HL level now, as the La Crosse Freeze will become known as the Coulee Region Chill but stay in the NA3.

Plus - Piney Orchard Ice Arena,  Odenton, MD

The hockey hotbed of Maryland will be the latest area to field a team in the East Division, and an ambitious ownership group has also purchased the Youngstown Phantoms and a Tier 3 team in addition to the NAHL's Black Bears.  Hopefully Maryland will take to having a hockey team in the area besides the Stanley Cup champion Capitals.

Plus - Northwest Arena,  Jamestown, NY

Jamestown has had the NAHL in the past, with the Jamestown Ironmen, but will keep the Rebels name in a relocation from Philly.  They were starting to draw decently in Jamestown with the Tier 3 Southern Tier Xpress, but will have another team name added to the past names of the Titans, Vikings, Jets, Ironmen, and Xpress, all within the last decade or so.  Hopefully Tier 2 hockey can work here, but the track record is not great.

Plus - Chippewa Area Ice Arena,  Chippewa Falls, WI

The Coulee Region Chill have moved and will be named the Steel.  The Upper Midwest is packed with junior teams and hopefully the Steel will be welcomed by large crowds and enthusiastic fans.

Bonus Plus -  The Gardens Ice House,  Laurel, MD

The new Maryland Black Bears will get in on the alternate venue action when they play at the Gardens Ice House on January 11th against Johnstown.  This arena also hosts the Maryland Terrapins ACHA team, and has hosted junior hockey in the past.

Bonus Plus - Essentia Duluth Heritage Center, Duluth, MN

The Minnesota Wilderness will play an alternate venue game here in Duluth on January 5th against the Minot Minotauros instead of at their usual home in Cloquet, Minnesota.

Although the NAHL is at the Tier 2 level we wanted to include it in our first report of the season as the Tier 1 leagues have rather limited opportunities this season for new arena experiences.  Our next report will cover the Tier 2 leagues which make up the CJHL in Canada.  It's time to start planning those hockey road trips and possibly take in some game action at the venues mentioned here.  Happy travels!