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Official Review by Joshua Guiher, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Mercyhurst plays hockey in the American Hockey Association, against teams from across the country. Conference foes range from Air Force to UConn. The program is very good despite competing against much larger schools while being a small private school from Erie, PA with an enrollment of just 3,500 students.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The menu is small. They offer hot dogs ($2), hot dog and cheese ($2.50), pretzel ($2), pretzel and cheese ($2.50), nachos ($2), nachos and cheese ($2.50), popcorn ($1), chips ($1) and candy ($1).
The drink menu had coffee and hot chocolate for $1 each, and Pepsi products were $2. Cappuccino, Gatorade, water and energy drinks were also $2 each.
That’s it, just a single small concession stand with two or three workers.
The atmosphere was nice and welcoming. Nothing extraordinary to write about, but nothing bad either, just average. The best part was the piped in music, keeping the fans into the game during stoppages.
A few chants, but the smaller crowd made it hard for me to say it rocked the building or anything. It was spirited for the number of people there though.
The Mercyhurst Ice Rink is located in a hard to find location on campus and the signs are not very helpful. It took me a while, but I was able to locate the building eventually about a block from where it is marked on Google maps.
There is not much of a neighborhood around the arena. A small, private religious college and some houses is all the immediate area really offers. Businesses are further up the road and not easy to get to due to an excessive amount of stop lights. I wound up eating at Wendy’s because I couldn’t find the type of local restaurant I was looking for.
The fans that were in attendance were fine, there just were not very many of them. The college students had some sort of formal dance later in the evening. They were all dressed up in prom style dresses and tuxedos and left part way through the third period with the score still tied 0-0.
I thought it was good dedication to show support for the team despite another big event going on that evening. Perhaps better planning by the school would have helped the fans be able to stay until the end.
Adults made up less than 50 people in the stands, which I thought was a bit disappointing. The adults were also very quiet and children, often a staple at sporting events, were nearly non-existent.
As I stated above, finding the arena wasn’t the easiest, but parking was free and there was plenty of spots available. You could only walk around the rink on three sides, but each section was well marked and very easy to find.
The seats were well protected from pucks with netting and extended glass. Almost to the point of annoyance if you were trying to take photos (like I was).
The bathroom was extremely clean.
The quality of the game was amazing. High level, division I hockey for $7. One of the best values you will find out there for college hockey. Overall, it is an extremely affordable event for a NCAA tournament level hockey program in a nice arena.
I have to give a point for the free parking, something that is getting harder to find at sporting events these days. A point for the extra wide seats, which offered plenty of room for the fans.
Most people wouldn’t think about taking a trip to Erie, PA for a small college hockey game, but if you are in the area, it is certainly a good option. If I had to choose between Mercyhurst hockey, Erie Otters OHL hockey or the Erie BayHawks NBA D league for a game to attend, I would choose Mercyhurst hockey every time.
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