Arena Iamgold du Centre Dave Keon - Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Aréna Iamgold du Centre Dave-Keon
218 Avenue Murdoch
Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X 1E6, Canada
Year Opened: 1951
Les Cors des Huskies (avec Dave-Keon)
The horns, oh the horns! They may not be the horns of justice or the horns of victory. They may only be made of plastic and cardboard, but the horns are a staple of Aréna Iamgold du Centre Dave-Keon. Home for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL, Aréna Iamgold was built in 1951 and formerly named after the favorite son of the area and former Toronto Maple Leafs legend, Dave Keon. The building is as old school as they come and totally fits the Northern Québec area. However, if there is one thing that the hockey experience in this mining town of 41,000 should be known for, it is the horns the fans play throughout the game.
The Huskies originally began their existence all the way back in 1933 as the legendary Montreal Junior Canadiens. In 1982 the team moved to Verdun as the Verdun Juniors before moving again to Saint-Hyacinthe in 1989 to become the Laser. The final move for this franchise was in 1996 when they moved north to become the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The team is currently owned by 16 local shareholders and decisions are made through a Board of Directors structure. The area is known for copper mining as they claim to be the Copper Capital of Canada, and hockey players Dave Keon and Jacques Laperriere. When naming rights were purchased by the Iamgold Corporation, a Toronto-based, international gold producer, the arena was renamed Aréna Iamgold but the entire building retained the moniker of the legendary Leaf.
Food & Beverage 3
Concessions at Aréna Iamgold are a bit of an adventure. Although there is a decent variety of items that you would expect at a hockey arena of this calibre, there is a distinct lack of modern amenities. Concessions require cash purchases and a clear price list or menu is replaced with piecemeal hand printed and computer printed sheets of paper. Combine this with a distinctly French culture and those already intimidated by the language, will probably steer clear of concessions all together. The north side of the arena has the major concession area, entitled “restaurant.” Poutine remains probably the most popular selection.
Soft drink options feature Pepsi products as well as other items. What is of significant surprise is the variety of alcoholic items available. Although the beer selection is of typical nature including Molson Canadian, Molson Export and Coors Light, other alcoholic options are plentiful. Practically a full bar is available including rum, vodka and cognac. What bumps up the food score higher than expected is the absolutely terrific pricing in Rouyn-Noranda. Fans that venture into the concessions will not be upset by high prices.
Aréna Iamgold is a classic, Northern Québec, hockey barn, plain and simple. The exterior of the building evokes thoughts of the fifties when it was originally built. The exterior is covered in brown brick with the exception of the top part of the north side of the building which is clearly a renovation and covered in various colours of brown siding. Both the north and south ends of the arena received additions to build up capacity and slightly modernize the arena.
Upon entering the arena, fans are greeted by a very small entryway which houses the ticketing windows. A step in past the ticketing area opens to the lower concourse, a decent meeting area for the pre-game which includes a small bar where fans can purchase drinks. There are a couple of interesting displays to keep the interest of fans while waiting for the doors to open one hour before the puck drops. One of which explains the connection between hockey and the area of Rouyn-Noranda. Once the doors open, fans are required to ascend the staircase to where tickets are scanned and fans are welcomed into the arena proper.
Inside, the arena oozes charisma and history. All around the main concourses, which are behind the seating, are photos of NHL players from the area or who played for the Huskies. Other photos include Huskies team photos as well as team photos from the area that go all the way back to the fifties. Above the ice are three banners honouring former Huskies. Mike Ribeiro and Jérôme Tremblay have their numbers retired and former coach André Tourigny has a banner honoring his ten years in Rouyn-Noranda. On the opposite side of the video board are the seven banners honouring the Huskies for their successes in the QMJHL, culminating in their 2016 season where they took home the President’s Cup, Jean Rougeau Trophy and were finalists in the Memorial Cup. The perfect accent for the arena hangs at the south end at the top of the arena. It is the Dave Keon number 14 banner directly from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
The seating area is quite small with seven rows of spacious, plastic stadium seats, on the east and west sides. The north and south ends have more seating as a result of additions in 2011. The roof is white painted hardwood and is arched as opposed to peaked. However, some of the seating is curious and requires some expertise to manoeuvre. There are box seats which hang above the east and west seating ends which obstruct the views of the scoreboard from at least the top row of seating. Also, there are seats right under the diagonal I-beams, which could cause some serious headaches for fans who tend to jump out of their seats. The perfect centre ice photo will be from the west side of the arena.
The game day experience in Rouyn-Noranda is fairly simple. Game day lineup sheets are free and hockey cards are often handed out at the door. The music is about what you would expect from a junior game and the PA system is remarkably clear. Upon a Huskies goal, an original Huskies goal song is played. The fans also participate in their own post-goal rituals with their horns. The mascot, Lappy, heads around the arena, greeting fans and making noise by banging two empty plastic jugs together.
Centre Dave-Keon is located just off the path of downtown Rouyn-Noranda. There is a small retail area around the arena and there are a couple of options for pre or post game food and drink. Chez Morasse offers a massive variety of the Québec staple, poutine, but only accepts cash as payment. Other options would be better found in downtown, including Pizzé.
Rouyn-Noranda is an outdoor, winter enthusiast playground. Popular activities in the winter include ice fishing, snowshoeing and skiing. It is also very common to see snowmobiles around town and even in the downtown. The theatre may be a consideration while in the area. Cabaret de la Derniere Chance could be considered.
For fans staying in the area, the best idea is to head downtown for accommodations. The Best Western Albert Hotel is a good option.
The Huskies draw slightly below average for the QMJHL. In the 2018, 2017 and 2016 seasons the Huskies have averaged 2,015, 2,228 and 2,161 fans per game respectively. This has ranked the Huskies between 13th and 15th in the league. Attendance in Rouyn-Noranda is pretty steady and ebbs and flows as any average team would. What bumps the score to the next level for the Huskies is how the fans that are in the stands act. Fans are loud and proud. Home goals get a massive pop and away goals are met with silence. After scoring and the goal announcement, fans take to the horns. One fan leads and others follow with a whole prepped routine for goals. It is something that is definitely unique to Rouyn-Noranda.
Aréna Iamgold is located east of the main highways 101 and 117. Getting in by car, fans will have to manoeuvre through the streets of Rouyn-Noranda, although that should not be a big issue. Getting out of the area can be a bit challenging after the game, but it is not that big a deal. Parking can be found around the area in local lots or on the streets and is free on Sundays. Fans who desire public transit can check the Ville Rouyn-Noranda website for fares, maps and schedules.
The ticketing windows are in the entryway at the north side of the building. There is a self-service, automated machine for printing will call tickets directly across from the ticket window.
Getting around the arena can be extremely challenging. Concourses are very narrow and crowded. Washrooms are also pretty small.
Return on Investment 4
QMJHL hockey continues to offer great value for the dollar. Huskies tickets go for $18.75 per game with no other discounts. Parking is often free and concession prices are excellent. The product on the ice is excellent. The Q usually plays with smaller players, is faster and has higher scoring. Overall, the return is excellent. The only drop in return is a result of the challenges of getting around the arena and finding a good seat. Also, for fans who do not like the shrillness of the horns, it will be a long game.
Extra marks for clinging to Northern Québec hockey history at all levels as well as their favorite son, Dave Keon.
An extra mark for the creativity of the fans and their horn sequence.
An extra mark for the Huskies’ heated rivalry with the Val-d’Or Foreurs. Just 100 km apart, those are the best games to go to and the house is always packed and loud.
Touring through the QMJHL will bring a diverse group of arena experiences. Aréna Iamgold du Centre Dave-Keon is definitely an older venue that has its quirks. That being said, it is a great experience and totally worth checking out. Maybe even “Les cors des Huskies” will play often for a home win.