Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Hit the Road Jack...


 The Niagara IceDogs 2014 / 2015 OHL regular season opens on Friday September 26, in Sudbury facing the Wolves.  Opening on the road allows an extra week to polish, spiff, buff, shine, and make pretty the IceDogs new downtown St. Catharines home, the Meridian Centre.

Just needs a *tiny* clean up
     Yes, the IceDogs will finally be moving out of the 85 year old Jack Gatecliff Arena. While it has it's quirks, like two person benches, an almost impossible to navigate "concourse" around the top of the seats, a non functioning shot clock and rows that are just a wee bit narrow for modern legs...
Just...just a little cramped
I still love it though, and it's living at least 3 more years.  The St. Catharines Falcons will continue to call it home, and hopefully hang a few more banners up before it's curtains.
They're good at that
But, today we don't mourn The Jack. We welcome the new kid. The Meridian Centre, and a new season of IceDogs hockey.

Just a teensy bit more work to go
Let's take a quick tour, photos are from my city councillor (I supposedly have two but judging by communication.....) Mat Siscoe. I was totally going to sneak in for myself but he saved me the trouble.

A view of the stage end of the building, the stands are in a horseshoe shape, allowing easy transition to a concert or show venue from hockey. There will be temporary seats here.

Concourse view

The south pedestrian bridge.  Since the arena is built in where the old canal was, the top of the rink is leve;l with the rest of downtown.  The bridges link the rink to the parking garages above for easy, quick access and plenty of nearby parking.

A view from the suites. All of the available suites were leased the day they became available.  Also the IceDogs have sold over 3,000 seasons tickets.  The new rink holds 4,500 for hockey and the goal is 3,500 seasons tickets, more tickets than there was capacity in The Jack.  Love the enthusiasm people have for the new building, and faith in the management of the team to build a competitor.  Nice to see competent hockey management. 

Speaking of a competitor, let's dive into an early look at the games you must see next season.

We know there will be one new face on the IceDogs for sure, with Mikkel Aargaard joining Niagara from the Danish League.  No word if he'll be asked not to hog all the A's when camp opens.

Training camp opens August 26, I'll be there with my oldest kid, so if you see a tired looking guy with an overly excited kid, thats me.

So some dates you must see:

Sept. 26 @ Sudbury Wolves

You must see a game in Sudbury.  I love that rink, but I loved The Jack so if you hated The Jack then....well go for a Friday game just for the crowds.
And to see this:

Oh yeah, thats the stuffed.

Oct 2nd vs Mississauga Fake Leafs Steelheads

The opening night of the Meridian Centre we host the team that made the IceDogs ours.  When the St. Michaels Majors moved to Mississauga, they kicked the IceDogs out of the Hershey Centre, and we adopted them.  Our very own rescue dogs.

So let's open the MC with a bang and a win over those frightened fish.

why so scared little fish?
Oct 10 @ Ottawa 67s
Ottawa returns to the Civic Centre from two seasons in the middle of nowhere.  It will be a great homecoming for them.  Until puck drop, then Niagara will ruin their night.


Oct 24, Jan 16, Feb 28 vs North Bay Battallion

North Bay Battalion.  3-1 Series lead lost.  Stan "SHHHHHHH" Butler.  Oh yeah. 
Revenge will be ours.

Jan 16 is also the first game post-trade deadline, so it will be interesting to see how it goes this year. GM/Coach Marty Williamson has said we'll be competing not rebuilding this year.

Nov 6, Nov 14, Mar 22 vs Erie Otters
Connor McDavid. See him one last time in the O.

Dec 4 vs Guelph Storm

The reigning OHL Champs and Memorial Cup runners up come to town for their only visit.
Dec 31 vs Peterborough

The annual New Years Eve game.  
Starts 1 hour early, plenty of time for enjoying a sensible and calm night out afterwards.
Jan 2 @ & Jan 3 vs Kitchener Rangers

My first game at Kitchener Square Gardens this happened in front of me

Always worth seeing the IceDogs and Rangers play a back to back, The Aud is a beautiful rink to watch a game in.

Feb 6 @ and Feb 8 vs London Knights

Fuck London forever.

Mar 22 vs Erie Otters

The last home game of the season.  It will start with a ceremony congratulating the team on winning the Hamilton Spectator Trophy for the best regular season record, and conclude with a lopsided 27-0 win over the Otters (and thats without Erie putting a centre in net), and a 16-0 run to the OHL Championship, giving the boys plenty of rest before the trip to Quebec City for the Memorial Cup.

What a year we have in store for us, eh IceDogs fans?
Our biggest job will be keeping the same awesome atmosphere from The Jack going in the new rink.  Make that noise, drive visiting teams crazy (but don't be a dick to visiting fans), and keep the spirit alive.  

See you in September, and GO DOGS GO!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, those benches are set up perfectly so that when dogs score and you get really excited, you can just hop right on to the shoulders of the guy in front of you and ride him around like at a concert!!