Vancouver, BC- Canada’s Atlantic provinces have long been heralded as the heartbeat of university hockey, and the seven AUS men’s hockey programs that dot the Maritimes continue to have some of the best support in the whole country. However, although maritime fans are showing up in droves, the facilities they inhabit are not the newest nor flashiest in U SPORTS. Today, 49 Sports is ranking all seven AUS men’s hockey arenas.
7. Prince Edward Island- MacLauchlan Arena
The host of the 2020 women’s U SPORTS national hockey tournament, Maclauchlan Arena is the only arena in the AUS with one-sided seating. There are 13 dressing rooms throughout the facility, making it perfect for a tournament, however, the one-sided seating leaves the arena with little character. There are two ice sheets at the facility, and it is connected to the university’s athletic centre.
The arena has been deemed not large enough for the 2021 men’s University Cup tournament, which will be hosted at the Eastlink Centre, home of the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders.
6. Dalhousie- Halifax Forum
Built in 1927, the Halifax Forum is nearly a century old, but it’s not always been home to the Tigers. The Dalhousie Memorial Arena housed the team for many years, before being demolished in 2012. The off-campus Halifax Forum has an old charm to it, but lacks fan support without being on-campus.
As a facility, the Forum is up to snuff, but the distance from campus means that the school isn’t able to put on intramural hockey or skating, a definite drawback to the arena. In 2017, the CBC reported that a new on-campus arena was near planned, but nothing has happened since.
5. St. Mary’s- The Dauphinee Centre
Capcaity: 875 (seated)
Simple. That’s the word that comes to mind when looking at the home of the SMU Huskies. Opened in 2019, the facility is the newest addition to the AUS hockey circuit, however, there isn’t much special to it. On-Campus is always a benefit, and most students will not care about the rink’s simplicity. The Dauphinee Centre is a major upgrade from sharing the Halifax Forum with Dalhousie, and the 875 people seated capacity has potential for some wild student-based nights.
4. St.FX- Charles V. Keating Centre Arenas
I’m one for colours and the navy blue seats combined with the navy blue X-Men brand makes this arena look really appealing at first sight. The facility has two rinks, but only one serves as the home for the Varisty hockey teams. With a capacity of 1500, it is near perfect for university hockey, and both the men’s and women’s teams have filled the building on occasion.
There are 10 dressing rooms all with separate washrooms, making it an appealing arena for the players, and the 40-person VIP lounge offers a little something extra to select fans. As far as university hockey arenas go, the “clean” looking Moncton arena is pretty good.
3. Moncton- Jean-Louis Lévesque Arena
Capacity: 1339 (seated)
On-campus is always a win and the Moncton arena has got that. It’s certainly quirky looking, but the eight rows of seats do their job. Pictures of the dressing room make the player’s facilities look extremely simple, but there’s only so much one can ask for in an arena.
2. Acadia- Andrew H. McCain Arena
Andrew H. McCain Arena, formerly known as the Acadia Arena has a lot going for it. Built-in 1988, it’s the newest addition to Acadia’s athletic facilities but is still over 30 years old. The Axemen/women are known to have some of the higher attended games in U SPORTS, and the capacity of 1800 makes for a cozy atmosphere each and every night.
There is a running track the goes around the top of the stands, which is odd but doesn’t draw too much away from the game. In the corner, there is a divider between the two stands which has photos of past Acadia events, this adds a unique touch to the barn, but could potentially interfere with spectator sightlines.
1. New Brunswick- Aitken University Centre
Combine one of the best teams in university hockey history with an on-campus arena, and you’ve got the Aitken University Centre. Although on-campus, it serves as the community main arena, and with that, it’s set up is nothing short of elite.
The centre is one of the few areas in all of U SPORTS to have luxury seats, and it boasts 80 of them, all alongside its 3278 person capacity. With all of its likeable characteristics, the Aitken Centre has attracted the University Cup national tournament six times, most recently in 2018. The arena also hosted the Moncton Wildcats in QMJHL playoff action in 2015 and regularly houses the league’s pre-season action.
Overall, I love every bit of this arena. From the colours of the seats, the classic, yet clean look, and the on-campus venue, most if not all of the barn’s characteristics are near perfect.
For the smallest U SPORTS conference, the AUS has a very wide range of arenas, from modern to 90+ years old, from one sided to professional level bowl, Atlantic Canada’s university hockey arenas have something for everybody.