February 1, 2020 - Canton, New York
SUNY Canton is a small public university a stone's throw from the Canadian border which has had amazing hockey success over the years which has largely gone unnoticed. The former junior college was a powerhouse at the Juco level, earning a remarkable 15 national championships over the years. The school is now a 4 year institution, although it largely leans toward technical majors and fields of study. Located in the same town as St. Lawrence University, and a mere couple miles away from the home of the Saints, SUNY Canton has done its best to maintain hockey success since transitioning to the NCAA in 2015, and currently competes as a Division 3 Independent. Roos House Athletic Center opened in 2011, and is a modern multi-purpose building which houses all of the school's indoor athletic facilities. The large building features a sharp looking glass and brick facade, and large windows. The arena is built into a small hill, allowing entry doors at various levels. The ice rink portion of the building is a square shape with a flat roof, and features dark blue metal siding. At the main entrance there is a statue honoring Coach Terry Martin, who led the Canton hockey teams, formerly known as the Northmen until 1996, and later known as the Northstars through 2007, before the teams became known as the Kangaroos, to a dozen national titles. The statue was erected in 2013, and is the first thing attendees notice when approaching the entrance to the arena. Although it is unlikely that you would see a kangaroo hopping around in the snowy North Country during winter, you will find some solid hockey being played here, and the school seems unconcerned that the better known St. Lawrence U. seems to grab the main portion of attention in town. Canton is a small place, but it is indeed big enough for a pair of college hockey teams. This 4pm Saturday game vs Anna Maria College enable an evening double at St. Lawrence to be experienced as well. New fans or attendees to Canton hockey are reminded of the success of the teams junior college days with reminders throughout the building, and, although mainly designed to meet the recreational needs of campus students, Roos House Athletic Center is a decent place to enjoy some hockey.
Fans entering Roos House on game day for a Canton hockey game will head through the main entry doors past the statue, and find themselves in a large open lobby with glass walls and a high ceiling. The venue's food concession stand, known as Joeys Cafe, is situated in the lobby as well. A hallway heads toward the gym and workout room, and the hallway is filled with a large wall-length trophy case featuring multiple NJCAA National Championship trophies. Surprisingly, there was no admission table and no one taking any money for this game, so entry was free, we are not sure if that is the norm. The arena itself features a high ceiling, open ductwork, and mostly white walls, save the large mural behind the benches complete with the Roos logo. Seating is comprised of 9 rows of blue plastic chairback seats, and capacity is listed at 970. There is a section in one corner, which features table seating, and the upper concourse has a Canton Hockey Wall of Fame, honoring players of the past. The end walls each feature a traditional scoreclock, and the upper walls feature skylights of sorts, allowing light into the arena. The entire place has a modern, yet somewhat sterile look, but with the addition of the large team logo and lots of banners honoring past teams it has a bit of character built in for a newer building. The lighting seemed especially bright. While nearby St. Lawrence University's Appleton Arena was undergoing some renovations to their classic barn Roos House Athletic Center hosted a handful of early season games for the Saints, so some people got to experience D1 hockey here, and the setting is not unlike some of the smaller Division 1 arenas such as Dwyer Arena, home of the Niagara University Purple Eagles. This arena is certainly a nice enough venue, and an ample space to host Division 3 hockey, and Roos have truly made it feel like their house.
The game day presentation at Roos House Athletic Center for a hockey game is typical of other Division 3 schools, and is largely focused on the on-ice action. There is no band here, and no formal student section, but the crowd filled more than half of the seats on a cold winter day, and was very vocal and supportive of their team. nothing happens at intermission other than the ice being resurfaced, and fans heading to the lobby to warm up a bit. The goal horn is extremely loud, and booms throughout the building when the Roos score. The sight lines are good, and there is no netting in front of the grandstand despite the arena being fairly new, which improves the viewing. There is an odd notch in the seating in the middle which has room for handicap accessible seating, which obstructs the view from a couple sections a bit, but there are plenty of places to sit to get a great view of the action. The game itself was excellent, with lots of action, a ton of hitting, and a tight finish until the end as Canton took a 2-0 win, but Anna Maria had a 5 on 3 at the end which turned into a 6 on 3 with the extra attacker. Roos House Athletic Center serves its purpose well, housing the Canton Athletic programs including hockey and basketball, and is a modern facility full of everything campus students need to work out, and appropriate accommodations for NCAA level teams. The little touches in keeping the Kangaroo theme throughout the building, such as the logos, cafe name, and others remind you where you are, and the schools focus on its history as a junior college sports power, including a large banner displaying the past logos and nicknames ties everything together in a cohesive way. They may not be the Northmen or Northstars anymore, but the Canton teams all seem to be playing for the same institution despite the changes to the university, campus, and league placement over the years. With free admission and a fun setting this game at Roos House was an enjoyable one to attend.