St. Cloud, MN – I’m pleased to present my CenterIceView Road Trip Ranking for 2022-23. The schedule is strikingly similar to that of the 2021-22 season and that’s by design. With the high number of Division I rivalry programs within driving distance, the coaching staff has made a concerted effort to schedule those non-conference rivals. That means the SCSU hockey fans will be entertained with road games vs the University of St. Thomas, Bemidji State University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin.
Fulfilling their non-conference scheduling agreement with the University of Wisconsin, the Huskies will make their first trip to Madison since March of 2013. On the downside, the Huskies do not make a conference road trip to Kalamazoo, MI to face the Broncos and the highly entertaining Lawson Lunatics. However, they’ll be replaced by the UW student section called the Crease Creatures who are likely to be just as entertaining.
The criteria for my rankings are fairly straightforward: ease of travel to the location, venue, and area attractions including hospitality considerations, weather, and opponent.
It’s another high-powered schedule for the Huskies in 2022-23 and with years of experience attending road games at all of these venues I’m presenting my ranking of road trips for the upcoming season:
#1 University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI) | October 14/15, 2022
This series checks all the boxes for the fan and secures its position as the top-ranked destination for a road trip for the 2022-23 season. Travelwise, it couldn’t be any easier. Jump onto I-94 and make a right turn into Madison 5 hours and 25 minutes later.
One of the top college cities in the nation, there are endless things to do in Madison including numerous restaurants and pubs all within walking distance of State Street, a pedestrian zone located in downtown Madison near the Capital. With some pre-planning, there are a number of hotels near the Kohl Center and State Street including Hilton Garden Inn, Doubletree, Hampton Inn and Suites, Graduate Hotel, and Hyatt Place, all within a half-mile of the Kohl Center. Note: This will be UW family weekend. Hotels near the university will have limited availability and will be expensive.
Opened in 1998, the Kohl Center is still an attractive facility located within walking distance of numerous hotels, restaurants, and pubs. The student section which holds 2100 students can be particularly lively and entertaining.
Considering this series takes place in mid-October, the weather could be in the 60s which will be quite favorable for spending time on State Street.
Tickets: University of Wisconsin
Favorite Places to Dine: The Nitty Gritty is very busy for pre-game and one of the closest pubs/ restaurants to the Kohl Center. Buckingham’s Bar and Grill is another popular pre-game location within walking distance of the Kohl Center. Other places to consider are Dottys Dumpling’s Dowry which has been around since 1969 and at one time was named one of the best burgers in the country, Great Dane Pub and Brewing, and the Old Fashioned Restaurant. Of course, your trip might not be complete if you don’t make a stop at State Street Brats for Wisconsin finger food, brats, craft burgers, and beers.
After sweeping the Badgers in St. Cloud by a combined 9-2 score this past season, the Badgers will be primed for some revenge. This should be an entertaining series with a former rival from the WCHA.
#2 University of Minnesota – Duluth (Duluth, MN) | January 27/28, 2023
This is a perennial favorite 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 are 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 January 27/28. It’ll be cold but never fear, the skyway system can get you there without a coat if you are staying downtown.
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 ended up tied in the NCHC standings with both advancing to the NCAA tournament. This is a can’t miss weekend of hockey.
#3 Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO) | November 18/19, 2022
Last year’s top pick drops to #3 this season but is still a consistent favorite. 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.
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 and with the Tiger’s new home, Robson Arena on campus one has a variety of lodging choices in downtown Colorado Springs. 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 can 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 18-19. “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, Golden Bee, Panino’s, Jax Fish and Oyster Bar, Red Gravy, and Jack Quinn’s Pub. For breakfast, check out Urban Egg, one of the best breakfast spots in the city. 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: Robson Arena is a beautiful facility with great sightlines. The fans and arena staff are very accommodating. This has always been one of my favorite road trips.
#4 University of Nebraska Omaha (Omaha, NE) | February 24-25, 2023
Omaha earns my #4 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.
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 $60-70 one way, it’s still 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 24 and 25, you can expect the temperatures to be near 30 degrees. With the Huskies 27-15-2 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 and 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 breakfast Le Peep or 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), 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 I strongly suggest this for a weekend getaway.
#5 University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN) | January 8, 2023
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 the Huskies carry a 7-6-0 advantage over the Gophers. Heading into the 2022-23 season, these teams should be highly ranked and eventual important Pairwise points could be at play in this home and home series.
Granted, many SCSU fans dislike the Gophers and don’t like to step foot in Mariucci Arena. However, the bottom line is this will be a key contest to start the second half of the season 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 pulled off a one-goal win in Minneapolis last season and lost a controversial overtime game the following night in St. Cloud. The atmosphere will be highly charged and this will be an entertaining series.
#6 University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND) | February 17/18, 2022
North Dakota moves up a notch at #6 for the 2022-23 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, parking can be an issue for visiting fans at the Arena. An alternative is to 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 had never heard of someone taking a tumble down the seats – until last season. A well-oiled fan cartwheeled down the seats with a large bucket of nachos and cheese flying everywhere plowing into fans on his way down.
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 Advisor’s 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 mid-February so could we get lucky?
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.
#7 Bemidji State University Beavers (Bemidji, MN) | October 29, 2022
Another affordable road trip on this season’s schedule is a single non-conference game with in-state rival Bemidji. This year’s game is on October 29th (Saturday) and it’s a manageable two-and-a-half-hour drive and could get you back home before midnight if you chose to drive. 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.
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 Slims 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 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.
#8 Denver University (Denver, CO) | November 4-5, 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 (Union Depot) 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 Downtown: Union Station and Civic Center Station, as well as all rail lines. There are a ton of tourist attractions in Denver including catching a football game at Mile High Stadium or a professional hockey game at Pepsi Arena.
The arena is a nice facility with decent concessions. Parking is a 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.
The choice for Huskies fans this season is whether to make the trip to Colorado College or to Denver as the games are two weekends apart. For my money, Colorado Springs is the more desirable destination for a hockey weekend. However, if you like the big city and everything Denver has to offer and have no problem dealing with the logistics of traveling around Denver and to the games you may want to experience Magness Arena.
The Huskies face Denver on November 4-5. The weather is unpredictable this time of year and you could see temperatures into the 70s or 32 degrees with snow. This trip will hit your pocketbook a little harder but is easily manageable logistically. It should be ranked higher but just isn’t as exciting as other venues for a hockey weekend. 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.
#9 University of St. Thomas (Mendota Heights, MN) | October 1, 2022
The Huskies welcomed the Tommies to the ranks of Division I hockey with a home and home series last October and will again usher in the 2022-23 season with a home and home with the Tommies. As opposed to last season (Xcel Energy Center) the game will be at the St. Thomas Ice Arena a 1400-seat facility with limited amenities.
The opening game of the weekend series will be on Saturday, October 1 so one could make a day of it in St. Paul. Ticket availability may be an issue as well.
Mendota Heights is 5 miles from the City of St. Paul so 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. There’s an abundance of nearby establishments for pre and post-game gatherings, but you’ll need an early start for this Saturday contest.
Favorite Places to Dine: If you arrive early in Saint Paul there are a number of options. 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. 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 in 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: The weekend finale will be in St. Cloud at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Saturday.
#10 Miami University (Oxford, OH) | December 9-10, 2022
Miami’s ranking as a road trip destination for SCSU fans suffers due to its location. The 11-hour drive to Oxford pretty much makes this an airline destination. Even so, one has to fly to Cincinnati, not known for competitive airfares from Minneapolis. From there, one has to rent a vehicle and make the hour drive to Oxford. Another option would be to check fares to either Dayton, OH, or Indianapolis, IN. It’s about a two-hour drive from Indy and about an hour from Dayton.
Another issue can be the availability of lodging in Oxford. With a population of about 24,000, there are a limited number of hotels. When there are other major events going on in Oxford or on the Miami campus the availability of lodging becomes scarce. Thus, planning in advance is a must if planning a road trip to Oxford. However, Oxford, OH is a wonderful college town with a beautiful campus and top-notch athletic facilities including the Goggin Ice Center where the Steve Cady Arena is housed. The rink seats 2500 and is generally full to capacity making it a very lively atmosphere. Because this is a recent league competitor, the rivalry has not risen to the level that this is a “must” road trip for SCSU fans. The price tag for the weekend exceeds that of most other locations in the league. SCSU faces Miami on December 9 and 10. The historical average is historically close to 50 degrees so the weather is usually not an issue for this road trip.
Tickets: Miami University
Favorite places to eat: Paesanos Pasta House for good Italian food located near the campus, Patterson’s Cafe, Mac and Joe’s (Oxford’s oldest tavern), and since Cincinnati is known for Chili try Skyline Chili located at 1 East High Street. If you enjoy German food, the Steinkeller is worth a try.
Worth Noting: It’s always a tough battle for the Huskies in Oxford and you’re sure to see two competitive contests. Unfortunately, the logistics will never make this a top-ranked road trip for SCSU fans.