For the serious college hockey fan, a trip to upstate New York and Colgate University for a weekend hockey trip should be on your checklist. Being from Minnesota, the travel arrangements are easy – a quick 2 hour direct flight to Syracuse from MSP. Heck, by the time you read a couple newspapers on your Kindle or Ipad you’re landing and ready for the one hour drive to Colgate University and Starr Rink.
But, to really do the trip right you should make a long weekend out of it. A suggestion is to fly into Albany, NY and take the 100 mile drive through scenic upstate New York (as opposed to I-90) with stops in Utica, Clinton (Home of Hamilton College) and ultimately Hamilton, NY. A highly agricultural area on the outskirts of Hamilton, there’s also sparkling lakes, mountain views and numerous pubs, restaurants and Inns to satisfy even the most discrimminating taste buds. Or, you could take it a step further and spend a day in the Fingerlakes wine country – primarily unknown to midwesterners and underrated in the world of US wine production.
In addition to highly acclaimed educational institutions like Colgate University and Hamilton College (in nearby Clinton, NY) this area is reasonably affordable from a cost of living standpoint and flush with the cultural amenities available due to the proximity of the colleges. Both schools have a long tradition of college hockey with Colgate in the ECAC and Hamilton College in the renowned NESCAC Division III conference with other schools such as Williams College, Middlebury, Amherst and Bowdoin. As a result, you could have college hockey on your plate nearly every weekend from October to March.
Once on campus, you’ll find Starr rink located in the William Reid Athletic Center. The rink which was opened in 1959 is named after long-time Colgate hockey coach John Howard Starr. This is an airplane hangar type of structure very common from this era with a ice rink measuring 200 X 85. This well maintained building brings you back to another era of college hockey quickly disappearing these days in exchange for multi-use structures with an emphasis on revenue per square foot. You’ll find a 2500 capacity rink with limited sight lines and generally uncomfortable bench seating on two sides and seats on the other. But, you don’t mind it as it brings the serious hockey fan back to another time in college hockey. An oddity is the common concession area which requires you to exit the rink ticketing area for a snack or beverage. And, oh by the way, portions of hockey cult movie “Slap Shot” were filmed both at Starr Rink and in nearby Uitica, NY at the Utica Auditorium, the “AUD”.
I was told Starr Rink will be replaced soon with a new $33 million facility including a hockey hockey rink with a seating capacity of about 2500. In a way it’s sad to see these structures disappear making it even more satisfying to make the trip for a weekend of hockey and a visit to upstate New York.
Thanks Hamilton and Colgate for your hospitality and a great hockey weekend.