There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Jim Flannery, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Women’s hockey is a relative newcomer to the Canadian Interuniversity Sports world; it has only been in existence since 1997. But this still-young league provides Canadian hockey fans with one of their best opportunities to see some of the best women players on Earth.
There are just five teams in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the small, but growing women’s pro league. The CIS, by contrast, boasts 33 teams and you’ll also find several members of Canada’s vaunted Olympic gold medal team in the league. So your best chance of seeing top calibre women’s hockey is by visiting your local university to take in their team.
In Lethbridge, that team is the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.
‘Horns hockey is played at the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre, part of the Nicholas Sheran Leisure Centre, which is just a few blocks west of the university campus in West Lethbridge. The Centre services the West Lethbridge community and includes a swimming pool along with the rink.
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".
There is a single concession stand in the lobby of the Ice Centre, to the west of the rink. It's a relatively modest location, providing a handful of typical concession items at pretty reasonable prices. You'll find hot dogs ($2.75), pretzels ($3.25), pop ($2.50) and candy bars ($1.75), but nothing out of the ordinary.
There is an alcohol line as well, offering Canadian and Coors Light ($5.50) as well as Palm Bay spritzers ($5.75).
In an arena that holds less than a thousand people, the Pronghorns typically draw between 100-200 fans. At the game I attended, there were only 105 people in attendance.
It is really tough to build up any energy in the stands when there are so few people in there. Even a place as cozy as the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre seems empty when most of the seats are unoccupied.
Nevertheless, this is easily the best women's hockey you'll find in this city that, all by itself, adds significantly to the atmosphere at the rink.
The men's hockey Pronghorns' championship banners from 1994 are hanging proudly in the middle of the arena and the team logo is painted onto the ice in the centre ice face-off circle. Beyond that, you won't find much in the building to let you know about the team or its history. The walls are largely free of any decoration, aside from advertising on the south side of the rink. As a result, the building seems clean and tidy, but lacks character.
West Lethbridge is mostly a residential area, with a smattering of commercial buildings (especially to the north end) and the university campus situated at about the midpoint and overlooking the coulees that separate West Lethbridge from the rest of the city.
The West Village Mall is right next to the Nicholas Sheran Leisure Centre and features several spots where you can grab some food before or after the game. For conventional fare, there's a joint KFC/Taco Bell on the corner. There are also two pubs in the mall: Pop's Taphouse and Backstreet Pub and Pizza. I recommend trying the Jamie Sandwich at the Backstreet; it's a sandwich made of pizza fixins, and it's delicious.
If you're willing to take a bit of a drive, there are a number of other dining options to the north along University Drive. My favourite is Mojo's Pub and Grill, which has more of a family friendly atmosphere than Pop's or Backstreet. The burgers there are very good and the sports pub atmosphere is comfortable and pleasant.
Something else I appreciate about the immediate vicinity around the Nicholas Sheran Leisure Centre is the network of walking paths that wind through the neighbourhood and on to the large park across the street from the leisure centre.
Overall, there's probably enough local entertainment to meet the needs of the couple hundred people in attendance at Pronghorns games. But ultimately, if you're looking for the heart of Lethbridge's entertainment scene, you'll be taking a drive down Whoop-Up Drive to either the downtown core or all the way out to Mayor Magrath Drive South. While this actually isn't that long a drive in the grand scheme of things, it does mean that you'll be crossing the city to get to other interesting places.
With a relatively small number of people in the stands, you know the fans in attendance are dedicated. You've got friends and family of the team, a smattering of U of L sports fans, some alumni and a few people like me who just enjoy seeing sports played at a high level. As a result, this is a group of people who know the sport, know the team, and are engaged and excited by the game. That's all good news.
I'd just like to see more of them because this truly is some good hockey.
West Lethbridge is a bit of a drive away from the rest of the city, separated as it is by a deep valley of coulees and the Oldman River, but in a city of about 100,000 nothing is really that far away from anything else. I guess it's all relative.
Parking is free outside the Nicholas Sheran Leisure Centre, but sometimes seems busier than it should be. Although I had no trouble finding a spot on this trip, I previously really had to search for one to see the men's hockey team play here in front of roughly the same size crowd. This could be university students parking there and walking the couple blocks to campus, but in any event, it can be a challenge finding a spot.
There is a bus stop around the corner from the Leisure Centre, on Columbia Blvd, so that's also an option for getting to and from the game.
Once inside, the main lobby has plenty of room for the size of crowd and the hall at the back of the stands also has enough room to allow people to move freely.
Tickets to see the Pronghorns play hockey are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors, $7 for youths, and free for kids under four years of age. University students can get in for $3, which is an awfully good deal.
Considering that this is essentially the highest level of women's hockey available for more than a hundred kilometres in any direction, this is a bargain price for top calibre sports.
The U of L has its men's hockey championship banners hanging in the arena, reminding fans and players alike of the team's proud history.
I'm always happy to see recycling bins at a stadium and the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre does just that. You'll find bottle and can recycling throughout the facility, keeping the world a little cleaner and tidier.
Canadians simply do not have a lot of interest in our university sports; they seem to be a consistently tough sell no matter where you go. But CIS athletics is one of the best kept secrets in the nation. In the case of the Pronghorns women's hockey team, their organization is really still in its infancy, with tons of room to grow and develop. Getting out to see that progression, and seeing some of the most talented players in the country, is a pleasure. Hopefully in the coming years more and more people discover the level of competition here and the crowds see some steady growth.
There are no crowd reviews yet. Be the first and help us build with your expertise!
132 Columbia Blvd W
Lethbridge, AB T1K 6X4
There are no local entertainment entries. Help us build with your expertise!
There are no local lodging entries. Help us build with your expertise!