St. Cloud, MN – For most hockey fans, it’s been over a year since they’ve had an opportunity to road trip to watch their favorite collegiate hockey team compete. As a result of the pandemic, half of last season’s schedule in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference was off-limits for fans as the teams were quarantined in Omaha. Once the teams were able to travel to a few select locations, state rules and travel restrictions made it nearly impossible for fans to attend road games until the playoffs started.
For the fans of St. Cloud State University, unless you snagged tickets for the NCHC playoffs in Grand Forks last March or were willing to adhere to the stringent protocol required to attend the NCAA playoffs in Albany, NY or Pittsburgh, PA you probably last saw the team on the road in early March of 2020 in Duluth. This was the last series prior to the season being shut down in 2019-20.
We’re far far from solving the COVID crisis but if anything, we’ve learned how to deal with it including mitigating the effects of the virus with vaccinations, anti-body infusions, and in some cases masking up. As a result, venues have opened up and it appears we’ll have a full season of road games to attend in 2021-22.
This season’s schedule is short on long-distance travel for the SCSU Huskies but is loaded with local rivalries from three different conferences making this one of the most demanding schedules in the history of SCSU men’s hockey.
With that said, let’s take a look at this years schedule ranked in terms of interest for the SCSU hockey fan:
#1 Colorado College Tigers (Colorado, Springs, CO) | November 5/6, 2021
Colorado Springs has always been a top road trip destination for this writer. With the grand opening of Robson Arena, the new on-campus home of the Colorado College Tigers, you can be part of college hockey history as the Tigers embark on a new era of hockey in this impressive new facility.
For those of us in Minnesota, traveling to a location with 247 days of at least partial sunshine is just what the doctor ordered. That’s just one of the reasons why hockey trips to Colorado Springs are always at the top of my list. But, it doesn’t stop there. With a flight time of fewer than two hours to Denver or Colorado Springs, one can hardly get settled in before you are at your destination. And, with flights to Denver typically one of the best bargains around it doesn’t bleed the pocket-book to get there. After that, It’s a car rental and an hour and twenty-minute drive to Colorado Springs. For those that wish to pay a little more, you can fly directly into Colorado Springs and shuttle to any of a number of hotels without the need for a car rental. However, that wouldn’t be advised as there is a whole lot of sightseeing to do once you get there. Some of the best attractions include Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, US Air Force Academy, Olympic Training Center, and Old Colorado City Historic District which are all very short drives. For the adventurous ones, a one hour and fifteen-minute drive to see the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, the world’s second-highest is a spectacular 955 feet above the Arkansas River. Or, if you are into wine, a trip to Canon City and The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey is an interesting side trip.
Hotels are abundant and reasonably priced. Or, if you’re into a more luxurious experience spend some of that hard-working money on a weekend at the Broadmoor Hotel, one of the top luxury hotels in the country including a world-class golf course. Although there are interruptions for snow, generally speaking, the Broadmoor golf course is a year-round facility. The Sunday brunch at the Broadmoor has to be experienced to understand how over the deep end it is. Food is set up in a huge ballroom with nearly anything you can imagine for breakfast. Reservations are suggested of course.
Tickets: Note: demand for tickets will be high. Single-game tickets go on sale in late September. Get your tickets early. Colorado College tickets
SCSU travels to Colorado Springs on November 5/6. “November is a tricky month. There is a very good possibility that there could be snow, but, just as good a possibility that it would be wonderful… Very crisp nights and reasonably comfortable days.” (Trip Advisor)
Favorite Places to Dine: Once again, they are too numerous to mention. But suggestions are Phantom Canyon Brewing Company 2 E Pikes Peak Road, Golden Bee 1 Lake Avenue, Paninos, Jack Quinn’s Pub, Fratelli Ristorante Italiani 124 N Nevada Avenue, and Skirted Heifer (touted the best burger in Colorado Springs). I can’t say enough good things about Famous Steak House 31 N Tejon Street. Excellent wine and beer selections, outstanding steaks, and a great “Chicago Steakhouse” type atmosphere. Finally, the Broadmoor Hotel for Sunday brunch is an experience in itself. Reservations required.
Worth Noting: On the ice, the Tigers are in a re-build with a new coaching staff. It will literally be like playing a new team. This has always been one of my favorite road trips.
#2 University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (Duluth, MN) | March 4/5, 2022
This is always one of the top road destinations for fans of SCSU hockey. The reasons are obvious – ease of travel to the port city, overall impact on the pocketbook, and the option to attend just one of the weekend’s contests if desired. This is a beautiful city two and a half hours from St. Cloud with ample lodging and numerous restaurant options. With a little pre-planning, hotel rates are reasonable and the availability of a refurbished skywalk allows you to walk to the game from several downtown hotels with a light pullover. If you’re into craft beer there’s no less than ten on the Duluth Craft Beer Trail to visit. If you are a skier, at the right time you can take in an afternoon of skiing at Spirit Mountain. If you’re into shopping, Canal Park has numerous unique shops and restaurants to kill several hours before game time. An excursion along the north shore of Lake Superior is a beautiful experience in the fall or during the winter months. The University of Minnesota-Duluth campus is in a beautiful setting and worth the visit. You simply can’t go wrong with a trip to Duluth.
As for the hockey, the SCSU / UMD rivalry continues to heat up and the games almost always have you on the edge of your seat. Amsoil Arena is one of the top hockey venues in college hockey with good sightlines and good concessions. As a result, I consistently rank Duluth highly on my list. This year’s schedule has the Huskies traveling to Duluth on March 4/5. This is the last regular-season conference series and there could be some serious consequences on the line. As an added bonus, we could actually get some decent weather as well. Wouldn’t that be great?
Tickets: University of Minnesota-Duluth
Favorite places to dine: Mine are at opposite ends of the dining spectrum. The Cantonese House at 24 W 1st Street has been in business since 1972 serving Americanized Asian cuisine. Let’s just say it’s a little rustic but the owners are very accommodating and the family servings are sizable and reasonably priced. It also gets a four-star ranking from Trip Advisor. This is a post-game dining location as there’s nothing better than food like this after an evening of beverages. For pre-game dining, Bellisio’s at 405 Lake Avenue South in Canal Park is a can’t miss. It’s primarily Italian fare and they have the best wine list in Duluth. The service is excellent, the quality of the food is good and it’s a short walk post-meal to the Amsoil Center. Other suggestions are Va Benne Caffe, Tavern on the Hill, Valentini’s, At Sarah’sTable, Pickwick , Northern Waters Smokehaus and OMC Smokehouse which is only one block from Bent Paddle Brewing. I’m just touching the surface as there are many more.
Worth Noting: This season’s meeting will feature two teams that advanced to the Frozen Four in 2021. This is a can’t miss weekend of hockey.
#3 Minnesota State University Mavericks (Mankato, MN) October 8/9, 2021
The Huskies and Mavericks are sister schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and University System and rivals in many intercollegiate sports. They also engaged in a classic Frozen Four semi-final battle on April 8th in Pittsburgh, PA, a one-goal win by SCSU to send the Huskies to the NCAA national championship game. The non-conference series in Mankato will feature two of the top teams in college hockey and bragging rights for their respective conferences, the newly-formed CCHA and the NCHC.
Much like the Duluth road trip, it’s a short drive from St. Cloud (slightly over 2 hours) and gives one the option to stay for the weekend or make the round-trip to attend one or both games. Lodging, shopping, and eating establishments abound within walking distance of the Mayo Clinic Event Center. Interesting side trips include the Schell’s Brewery in New Ulm with tours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the fall. A trip to nearby Nicollet (13 miles from Mankato) home of the award-winning and largest meat market in southern Minnesota Schmidt’s Meat Market is a very interesting experience. En route to Mankato and if you have a sweet tooth you may wish to stop at Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store, also known as Jim’s Apple Farm, located in Jordan, MN. Open mid-May through November, they offer all sorts of fun products including hard-to-find nostalgic sweets, fresh-baked pies, and strudels, the world’s largest selection of soda’s, a large variety of popcorn, pasta, jams, jellies, pickles products, meats, cheeses, and other products raised or made locally by surrounding farms. Note: they do not accept credit or debit cards or any form of plastic. Cash or checks only.
Favorite Places to Dine: One thing about Mankato is there is plenty of dining within walking distance of the Mayo Clinic Event Center. This includes Olives, (excellent service and food choices), Rounders Sports Bar and Grill, Pub 500 (named one of the 12 best bars outside the Twin Cities), Blue Bricks, (appetizers, burgers, and pizza), Number 4 Gastropub (traditional pub food and one of a kind dishes) and Nolabelle Kitchen + Bar (traditional American cuisine with local ingredients). If it’s just pizza you’re after go for Dino’s Pizzeria (brick oven pizza) or Pagliail’s Pizza described by some as the “Best Pizza in the United States”.
Tickets: Minnesota State University Mankato
Worth Noting: Any way you cut it, former SCSU Husky and head MSU Hockey coach Mike Hastings will have his team primed for this weekend’s rematch between two top-ten teams. Thus will be college hockey at its finest on display.
#4 University of St. Thomas Tommies (St. Paul, MN) October 3, 2021
The Huskies welcome the Tommies to the ranks of Division I hockey with a home and home series on October 2/3. The Tommies have moved their inaugural Sunday home game on October 3rd to the Xcel Energy Center and that’s what has moved this game up the list of attractive road games for the 2021-22 season.
In addition to the intrigue of watching college hockey’s newest Division team play their first weekend of hockey, it’ll be in one of the top hockey venues in the country. What makes this an attractive road trip is all that the city of St. Paul has to offer for the hockey fans in addition to one of the shortest drives on this year’s schedule for the SCSU fan base. With an abundance of nearby lodging and numerous establishments for pre and post-game gatherings, this is another can’t miss road game.
Favorite Places to Dine: The ultimate pub for hockey fans, Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub has been a favorite of hockey fans for years. With great food and drinks surrounded by a vast collection of hockey memorabilia, this is a place to visit if you’ve never been there. Owner and former Minnesota North Star Tom Reid has always been a friend of St. Cloud State University hockey. If you’re looking for an old-fashioned atmosphere, interesting cocktails and menu give Parlour on West 7th a try. If you’re interested in more upscale dining and perhaps the best oyster bar in Minnesota Meritage at 410 Saint Peter Street is the place. They have a great cocktail and wine list and the best house-cut pomme frits anywhere. Mickey’s Diner has been around since 1939 and is classic art deco railcar dining. Whether it’s all-day breakfast, burgers, fried chicken, or old-fashioned franks it’s quite a dining experience. One of St. Paul’s most famous businesses is Cossetta’s Italian restaurant and market. You can dine in or take out and it’s interesting to shop the Italian market. Other places on West 7th to consider are the Downtowner Woodfire Grill, Mancini’s, Burger Moe’s, New Bohemia, DeGidio’s, Bennett’s Chop and Railhouse, and Patrick McGovern’s Pub. Finally, St. Paul Grill may be open by October 3rd if you’re looking for some upscale dining. It’s located in the St. Paul Hotel.
Tickets: University of St. Thomas
Worth Noting: Follow-up the Saturday game in St. Cloud with a Sunday trip to St. Paul and it’ll be a great way to start the 2021-22 college hockey season.
#5 University of Minnesota Gophers (Minneapolis, MN) October 16, 2021
These two teams have never liked each other and despite the rivalry being downplayed by the Gopher faithful, it hurts for each side to lose. There was a time when the upstart Huskies were perennial underdogs to the Gophers. No more. Since both teams departed the WCHA in 2013-14 SCSU has racked up 177 wins and the Gophers 171. Also, since that time, the Huskies carry a 6-5-0 advantage over the Gophers. Heading into the 2021-22 season, these teams will be anointed two of college hockey’s best and lots will be on the line in this home and home series on October 15/16.
I know, I know – many of you dislike the Gophers and don’t like to step foot in Mariucci Arena. However, the bottom line is this will be a key early-season contest with an in-state rival and crucial pairwise points on the line. Look at it this way – you can get a whole lot of hockey entertainment at the lowest cost of any hockey trip this season with a trip to Mariucci Arena. Obviously, you have two choices – drive back and forth or open the pocketbook and stay a night. If you decide to overnight, I’d simply go to Hotwire.com and snag a hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Guaranteed you’ll get a four-star hotel for around $100.
Tickets: University of Minnesota
Favorite Places to Dine: The sky is the limit in Minneapolis. I can offer a few suggestions. Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chao located in the Hennepin Theatre District serves great food and lots of it. They have brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM and dinner is served to start at 5:00 PM. However, be forewarned, you may be sleeping by the second intermission after your feast. Two of my other favorites are Murray’s Restaurant and Manny’s Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis. Murray’s has been around since 1946 and is there isn’t a better steak in Minneapolis than the famous “Silver Butter Knife” steak. Manny’s is another with great steaks and seafood. A couple of other breakfast spots to check out are the very unique and popular Hell’s Kitchen and the Newsroom both in downtown Minneapolis. Closer to Mariucci consider Annie’s Parlour and Stub and Herb’s (if you don’t mind a lot of maroon and gold. If you want to spend the day touring craft breweries in Minneapolis check out this list.
Worth Noting: The Huskies will be facing former SCSU coaches Bob Motzko and Garrett Raboin in this key entertaining series. This will be two of six games in October against teams that could be in the NCAA tournament including Minnesota State University, University of Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Success against these teams will generate crucial pairwise points.
#6 Omaha Mavericks (Omaha, NE) February 18/19, 2022
Omaha earns my #6 ranking this year based on a number of factors including ease of getting to the destination, cost of lodging, weather, attractions, dining, and outstanding hockey venue in Baxter Arena. A case could easily be made to rank it higher. Despite a drive time of just over 6 hours from St. Cloud, it’s very manageable as it’s literally all freeway if taking 35W / I80. With a gas tab between $30-40 one way, it’s fairly painless on the pocketbook. That goes for lodging as well as choices are plentiful including a number within walking distance of Baxter Arena in the newly developed Aksarben Village a retail/student housing/lodging area integrated with the University of Nebraska-Omaha campus. Baxter Arena, completed in 2015 reminds one of Amsoil Arena in Duluth with great sightlines, plentiful concessions, and wide concourses.
The Omaha metropolitan area has a population of approximately 800,000 and along with that comes all the attractions of a larger city with numerous historical sites and a multitude of dining options. For example, it’s home to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium named by Trip Advisor as the best zoo in the world. Omaha boasts four Fortune 500 companies and is the home of Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway empire. And, how can you go wrong with a city that is home to Omaha Steaks and invented the reuben sandwich and raisin bran? The weather is typically fairly mild and with this year’s games on February 18 and 19 you can expect the temperatures to be near 30 degrees. With the Huskies 26-12-2 vs Omaha all-time, odds are you’ll see some road team success as well.
Tickets: University of Nebraska-Omaha
Favorite Places to Dine: If you are staying in the Aksarben Village area (highly recommended) there are numerous choices. If it’s pizza you want I’d suggest Dudley’s Pizza just a short walk from Baxter Arena. If you don’t mind the drive, I’d strongly suggest heading to the Old Market Area, the art and entertainment district. It’s about a 15 minute drive but is a great place to walk around, enjoy the surroundings with lots of shops and galleries and numerous restaurant choices. Some suggestions are M’s Pub, Jackson Street Tavern, Upstream Brewing Company and for breakfast Wheatfield’s. Obviously, Omaha is known for its steaks and two of the best steakhouses are Brother Sebastians and Mahogany Prime Steakhouse. Closer to Baxter Arena is Beacon Hills, DJ’s Dugout (sports bar), Herb Sainte (New Orleans dining and cocktails), Inner Rail Food Hall 10 food vendors), LIV Lounge (classic cocktails) and Oklahoma Joes BBQ.
Worth Noting: The road trip to Omaha is a great venue and worth the six-hour drive. If you haven’t taken in a game at Omaha and flying trips are out of the question this season I strongly suggest this for a weekend getaway.
#7 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (Grand Forks, ND) January 28-29, 2022
North Dakota settles in at #7 for the 2021-22 season. Granted, this is THE finest college hockey venue in the country and it should be at a price tag of $104 million but there are some negatives. Obviously, it’s a reasonable three-hour and forty-five-minute drive up the freeway to Grand Forks which is attractive to SCSU hockey fans.
The North Dakota fans are probably the most fanatical and loyal followers in college hockey. As a result, tickets at times are hard to get and lodging becomes a problem if you do not plan ahead. And, despite the $104 million price tag, no general admission parking is available for visiting fans at the Arena. That means you take a public off-site shuttle or pay a nominal fee to take a bus from one of many restaurants, taverns, or hotels. However, it comes with the price tag of rushing to get out of the arena at the conclusion of the game to find your designated bus and then many times prying yourself into an obviously over-capacity bus filled with throngs of well-lubricated fans that may or may not appreciate the presence of a fan dressed in cardinal and black. Add to this the fact that it is usually brutally cold and windy and well … you get the picture. An alternative is to seek out one of several off-site parking locations located 2-3 blocks from the arena at a typical parking fee of $10.
At the rink, the visiting fans are usually sequestered into an upper-level area with some of the steepest grade seats I’ve ever seen. I’m always amazed that I’ve never heard of someone taking a tumble-down the seats. There are two club lounges in the arena and they are typically a four-hour party and again, packed to capacity. I’m willing to bet they sell more alcohol per square foot than any other venue in college athletics. Don’t get me wrong, if you haven’t been to the “Ralph” you owe it to yourself to go. The big attraction is the games themselves. The North Dakota | St. Cloud State rivalry continues to grow and the games are always entertaining and highly competitive. Some of the most entertaining collegiate games I’ve been to have been at Ralph Engelstad Arena vs UND.
As far as tourist attractions go, they are somewhat limited. Travel Advisors two top attractions are the Ralph Engelstad Arena and the University of North Dakota. And again, I have a hard time recalling any balmy weather on a hockey trip to Grand Forks. This season’s contests are in late January so bundle up.
Tickets: University of North Dakota
Favorite places to eat: The Toasted Frog at 124 N 3rd Avenue is an interesting and eclectic place. The Blue Moose is a popular restaurant located at 507 2nd street NW. The Speedway 805 Grill and Bar 805 North 42nd Street is a can’t miss. Outstanding french fries (probably the best I’ve ever had), parmesan-crusted walleye is delicious as is the shrimp basket. They also serve exotic burgers and ribs. There is also a bar area for pre or post-game libations. Unfortunately, old school classics like the bronze boot have closed leaving a void in some of the legacy steakhouses in the city. Otherwise, there are a lot of chain restaurants in Grand Forks.
Worth Noting: North Dakota continues to be one of SCSU’s top league rivals and it is a reasonably priced weekend for the fan if you do your planning early. The games are always highly entertaining and worth the price of admission. Availability of key seating locations, the weather, city attractions, and the general lack of parking are drawbacks to making this one of the top-ranked road trips for Husky fans. That’s unfortunate as it is an unbelievable venue. On the other hand, if it’s your intention to have a party weekend, it certainly fits the bill both at the “Ralph” and off-site locations.
#8 Bemidji State University Beavers (Bemidji, MN) December 31, 2021
Another affordable road trip on this season’s schedule is a single non-conference game with in-state rival Bemidji. However, this year’s game is on New Year’s Eve which may be a tough sell for some fans. It’s a manageable two-and-a-half-hour drive (unless it’s snowing) and could get you back home in time to make a toast for the New Year. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, Bemidji is the place for you. Here’s a list of attractions from Trip Advisor. The Sanford Center, home of the Beavers is a nice facility with the added feature of lodging attached to the center. Check out the list of lodging locations here. If you get there early enough on Friday, you might want to check out their hockey luncheon. Former SCSU coach Tom Serratore is always entertaining to listen to and it would be worth your time.
Tickets: Bemidji State University
Favorite Places to Dine: Dining is limited but there are a number of places I can suggest. It’s a little rustic but a lot of the hockey locals hang out at Slim’s Bar and Grill. They’ve got a nice selection of burgers, great chili, and pizzas. You’ve gotta like a place that still touts having former SCSU player Joe Motzko bring the Stanley Cup by Slim’s after the 2007 season. Bar 209 has a wide selection of tavern food including poutine, cheese curds, walleye tacos, wings, burgers, and pizza. If it’s just pizza you’re looking for Dave’s Pizza (seems like every city has a Dave’s Pizza) is the place for you. It’s been around since 1958 and still going strong. There are 170 Breweries in Minnesota and in Bemidji, it’s Bemidji Brewing. Like most Brew Pubs they have a limited menu but with beers like Mexican Chocolate Porter, Flanders Sour Red, Jalapeno Blonde and Oud Bruin Kriek does it really matter? Finally, if it’s breakfast in a unique style you may want to try the Red Stu Breakfast Bar. They are located in downtown Bemidji and specialize in breakfast (only open until 3 PM). There are others but this will get you started.
Worth Noting: It’s two in-state rivals and both were in the NCAA tournament last season. It’s another local rivalry and sister Minnesota State Colleges and University System schools with bragging rights on the line. It’s a nice venue and worth the trip. A bonus is to watch former SCSU coach Tom Serratore on the opponent’s bench.
#9 Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI) November 19/20, 2021
I typically rank the trip to Kalamazoo quite high. I always loved the road trip to Houghton MI to play the Michigan Tech Huskies when SCSU was in the WCHA and this has been a good replacement. I’ve made the trip three times – once by vehicle, once via a flight to Chicago, and the balance of the trip by rental car, and once via non-stop flight to Grand Rapids International (GRR). Driving may be at the end of being tolerable at nine hours but, this year’s games are in late November which is typically one of the drier months with temperatures between 20 and 40 degrees. Other options include flying to Chicago a few days early to catch one of Minnesota’s professional sports teams on the road or to do some dining, shopping, or hit some broadway shows. For the adventurous, you can also catch an Amtrak train from St. Cloud and it’ll take you within two blocks of the Radisson Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo – a good central location to stay. Another option is to fly to Grand Rapids, MI, and drive from there. That is my suggested choice if you can get an agreeable airfare. You can catch a non-stop 47-minute flight from MSP, rent a car at the terminal and make an incredibly easy freeway drive to Kalamazoo in 52 minutes (no tolls and little traffic). Hit a Biggby’s Coffee en route or Tim Horton’s as you hit Kalamazoo to start your weekend.
Kalamazoo is a great college town and once you get there there’s a ton of things to do before catching games at Lawson Arena. Once again, if you are into craft beer, the Kalamazoo Craft Beer Trail has 12 breweries on its list including the well-known Bell’s Brewery. Possibly lesser known by most folks, Southeast Michigan is dotted with numerous vineyards and wineries. The Lake Michigan Circle Tour is a huge attraction for those traveling to the area. You can easily kill an entire day visiting tasting rooms at some surprisingly gorgeous wineries. However, again, since the series is in November, many will be closed. Granted, the wine is not going to rival that of California, Oregon, or New York but the tasting rooms are well-run and the owners very accommodating. If you like older rinks, Lawson Arena is great. The Lawson Lunatics are some of the loudest and most boisterous fans in all of college sports and hockey is their favorite sport. The rink brings you back to a simpler time in sports arenas and the fans are welcoming and pleased to have opposing visitors at their games.
Tickets: Western Michigan University
Favorite places to dine: I’m still a neophyte on dining in Kalamazoo after only three trips to the city. However, for breakfast, Sophia’s House of Pancakes 4700 Stadium Drive is a classic place to go to start the day. For fine dining Zazios at 100 W Michigan Avenue and Rustica at 236 S Kalamazoo Drive are good choices. The Olde Peninsula Brew Pub and Restaurant is another safe bet. Specialty locations such as Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken (2 locations) and Sweetwaters Donut Mill (2 locations) are worth checking out. However, I need to explore more places to be of more help.
Tickets: Western Michigan University
Worth Noting: Lawson Arena is usually a lively atmosphere with friendly fans and a genuine college atmosphere. The Huskies and Broncos have developed a healthy rivalry and the games are usually quite entertaining. Personally, I’ll make this trip as often as I can. It’s always enjoyable.
#10 Denver University Pioneers (Denver, CO) January 14/15, 2022
Denver is a great travel destination. Flights to Denver can be downright dirt cheap with proper planning and once you arrive at the airport you can let public transportation take over. Denver has perhaps the finest public transportation system in the country. You can take the light rail for $10.50 from the Denver Airport to downtown Denver and once there you can take the RTD to Magness Arena, home of the Pioneers. There are enough hotels in downtown Denver to fit every preference and using a travel site like Hotwire can normally get you a pretty decent rate.
Once downtown Denver, the options for dining and entertainment are numerous and commuters and visitors can hop on the free 16th Street Mall Shuttle. Running the length of the 16th Street Mall, the shuttle runs at frequent intervals offering convenient connections to all parts of Downtown, from Union Station and LoDo to the Denver Pavilions and Civic Center. The shuttle also connects to the two major transit stations in Downtown: Union Station and Civic Center Station, as well as all rail lines. There’s a ton of tourist attractions in Denver including catching a football game at Mile High Stadium or a professional hockey game at Pepsi Arena.
So, why not a higher road trip attraction? Primarily because of the venue itself. After all, the primary purpose of my trip is to catch two Husky hockey games at Magness Arena. The arena is a nice facility with decent concessions. Parking is a little bit of a hassle if you’re driving. It’s a short walk from the drop-off point if taking the light rail. Once at the game, the visitors are usually seated high at one end of the rink with a large net facing you and thus, not great sightlines. And, despite the fact that the rink is rarely sold out for Husky games, forget about moving to a better seat. The rink staff is overly diligent in my experience about allowing any movement to a vacant seat even if there are 200 of them in a section. It’s about the least fan-friendly rink I’ve ever been to for a college hockey game. As far as atmosphere, it can be a sterile atmosphere and in my experience, if the Avalanche are in town the same night, the attendance can be light. As such, it’s probably my least preferred rink in college hockey.
The Huskies face Denver on January 14/15. This is the second coldest month with average highs of 45 degrees. This trip will hit your pocketbook a little harder but is easily manageable logistically. It should be ranked higher but just isn’t an exciting venue to watch hockey in my opinion. Otherwise, Denver is a great place to visit.
Tickets: Denver University
Favorite places to eat: I haven’t even scratched the surface on my trips to Denver. There is absolutely great dining in Denver and there is a restaurant or tavern that fits your style several times over in downtown Denver.
Worth Noting: Denver University is a perennial contender and the games are typically entertaining. However, the Huskies have not fared well at this rink over the years.
I’m hoping this is of assistance for SCSU hockey fans as you plan your road trips for 2021-22.