Wednesday, August 1, 2007

WCHA Arena No. 9 – John MacInnes Student Ice Arena

Last week, the WCHA Blog kicked off its list of which WCHA arenas are the best. I'm basing my list off of three criteria (Arena, Atmosphere, and Crowd). For a detailed list of what these three items mean to me, click here and scroll down a bit.

Here is a list of the arenas that I've already covered:

10. Sullivan Arena - Anchorage, AK

This week, it’s arena No. 9: the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, which is home to the Michigan Tech Huskies


Because this arena is No. 9 on my list, I obviously don’t think too highly of it, but the arena itself isn’t terrible. Much like Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, it’s usually fairly easy to obtain tickets at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, so you can sit in an area with good sitelines. There are some seats on both sides of the arena where you’ll be looking through some handrails for portions of the game.

There is plenty of parking outside the arena, but you do have an above-average walk to get from the main parking area to the arena. Once you get to the arena, you’ll notice that its part of the Student Development Complex, which is home to several offices and other athletic facilities.

Just to your left when walking in the front door of the arena, you'll find a very solid gift shop. They have a nice array of Tech gear, and even offer hockey equipment for purchase.

Once you get in the arena, you’ll see that the two ends – much like the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud – basically are just two concrete walls, with most of the seating coming on the two sides. Most of the seats are wood chairs that you must fold down yourself. However, like I said before, if you’re able to secure good seats – which shouldn’t be a problem for most series – you’ll likely be just fine once the puck drops.

As pretty much any visitor to the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena knows, one must try the ice cream that is sold in the arena. It’s very affordable and really tasty. The lines form quickly after the period ends though, so you better be ready to scoot if you want to get to the front of the line.


The atmosphere in the arena is not too bad because of the fact that it’s clearly a college arena, not a pro arena. Michigan Tech’s pep band has been present at the WCHA Final Five the past few seasons, and they are very good at what they do, although some of their songs can really stick in a person’s head, such as the Copper Country Anthem.

The arena itself holds just over 4,000 people and can get pretty loud if the Huskies get on a roll. The students also do a good job of getting into the game, which isn’t often the case at a smaller school that – in recent years – has struggled to sustain success on the ice.


Aside from the students, the crowd doesn’t bring much to the table. Most of the onlookers are a bit on the older side, which usually doesn’t make for a fun atmosphere.

Like I said though, the students can get into things, and that helps compensate for the lack of participation by some of the other attendees.


In the short-term, Michigan Tech’s improved play on the ice should certainly help the overall experience inside the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. As most sports fans know, when a team is good, the crowds are bigger and more into the game, which can help you forget a building that is a bit outdated and lacking some of the more modern amenities that elevate some of the new rinks throughout the WCHA.

Overall Grade: C