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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Campus Ice Centre - Ontario Tech Ridgebacks

Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey.

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Campus Ice Centre 2200 Simcoe St N Oshawa, ON L1H 7K4

Year Opened: 2005

Capacity: 550

The Dog Pound

In 2006 the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ontario, entered the world of Canadian University sports joining what is now USports and Ontario University Athletics. Their beginning was ice hockey and the UOIT Ridgebacks were born. A small school of around 10,000 students, UOIT went through the expected growing pains of any new team. Success on the ice did not come early or easily, but the Ridgebacks would develop a loyal following, with typical attendance figures for OUA hockey. In 2019, UOIT took to the drawing board and rebranded as Ontario Tech University. The Ridgebacks name remained for the hockey team, but new logos and colours were on the menu and the team continued to truck on.

Home for the Ridgebacks is the Campus Ice Centre. An on campus hockey rink and recreation facility, the Campus Ice Centre is the perfect size for OUA hockey and serves the community as an additional community rink. Most hockey fans would know Oshawa and the home of the very successful junior hockey franchise, the Oshawa Generals, but the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks have carved themselves a nice niche in the crowded hockey market.

Food & Beverage 3

In the hockey arena, there is one main concession stand behind the seating arena. Shagwell’s offers coffee, hot chocolate, water and Coca-Cola products. French fries, hot dogs, nachos, chips and candy are also available. Shagwell’s has your basic snack bar offerings. However, fans have the opportunity to head to the other side of the arena to Simcoe Arms which offers a full array of food and beverages. It is a perfect spot for a snack, drink or meal before or after the game and it’s just steps away from the arena seats.

Atmosphere 3

The Campus Ice Centre is very much a community hub. A pair of ice pads, the Ice Centre attracts plenty of youth hockey players from Oshawa and the surrounding area. The exterior is attractive enough and large windows on the north side of the building offer plenty of natural light to those inside. Entering the Ice Centre draws fans to markings letting all know that this is not just a community rink, but the home of Ontario Tech and the Ridgebacks.

Ascending the stairs will bring fans to the main entry for the ice pad that the Ridgebacks call home. A temporary ticketing table is at the top of the stairs to welcome fans who require tickets. To the right is the entry to the ice pad, which brings fans behind the seating area. There are six sections of seven rows of wide, plastic, stadium seats for a capacity of around 550. The ice surface runs from south to north with all of the seating on the east side. In the northwest corner hangs a banner welcoming all to the “Dog Pound.”

Ontario Tech excels at showcasing their extremely short history. On the wall behind the grandstand hang numerous framed pictures memorializing moments in Ridgeback history, including the first goal, first win, first playoff appearance, and even an appearance for the women’s team at an outdoor game. In the southwest corner hang the banners for the retired numbers of Nathan Spaling and Jill Morillo. Both played huge roles on their respective teams and Spaling has the distinction of being the first captain in Ridgebacks history.

The game day presentation at a Ridgebacks game is simple. Ontario Tech doesn’t try too hard and assault the fan with too much going on and they take advantage of their excellent audio equipment, which is not always the case at university sport in Canada.

Neighbourhood 2

The Ontario Tech Campus Ice Centre is located on campus, which is in the north part of Oshawa, a fair distance from highway 401. The Ice Centre is also at the north end of the shared campus of Ontario Tech and Durham College. In the immediate area, there is not too much that will interest travelers. On Simcoe St, just south of campus, there is a St. Louis Bar and Grill. Fans are better off heading further south on Simcoe Street. Shoeless Joe’s and other chain restaurants can be found at Simcoe and Taunton Road.

Being so close to Toronto, there are not a ton of exciting entertainment options in Oshawa. Hitting Simcoe Blues & Jazz for some live music may be of interest. Checking out the Canadian Automotive Museum might also be of interest. The other sporting option in Oshawa is of course to take in an Oshawa Generals game at Tribute Communities Centre. Ontario Tech has also added a basketball team in 2019 and they play at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre.

There is not much in the way of accommodations near Ontario Tech. The best bet for travelers would be to head to downtown Oshawa where there are a few options, including a Holiday Inn Express.

Fans 3

Ontario Tech has a small but very loyal following of fans. They usually draw between 100 and 250 fans per game, which is pretty common for the second tier of OUA hockey teams. Although the average attendance at the Campus Ice Centre may not be among the best in the conference, Ontario Tech lacks a signature hockey game that can skew the attendance figures in a team’s favour. The small capacity of the Campus Ice Centre is an advantage for the Ridgebacks as it feels just about right for arena attendance.

Access 4

Ontario Tech University is located in the north end of Oshawa. Although the campus is not very large, the Campus Ice Centre is at the north end of campus as well, making it easy to find. Essentially between highway 401 and the express toll road 407, Ontario Tech will require a very significant drive through Oshawa to get to campus. The 407 is a better option, but as far as toll roads go, it is very expensive.

There is plenty of free parking available at the Ice Centre. East of the arena there are large parking lots where fans can park for free. For fans looking to get to the arena with public transit, route 401 of Durham Transit brings patrons to the Ontario Tech campus. Check out the Durham Transit website for maps, fares and schedules.

The Ice Centre can be entered from either the north or south and the atrium is large with plenty of natural light. The stairs to the rink are at the north side of the building and lead to a temporary ticketing table. Make sure you bring cash to purchase tickets as credit cards are not accepted.

Considering the number of fans in attendance, getting around the arena is not a big challenge. The washroom facilities are not huge and can be found behind the seating area in the main arena.

Return on Investment 4

Taking in an Ontario Tech Ridgebacks hockey game is very affordable. Tickets for adults are a mere $10 and seniors, students, staff and alumni are only $5. Ontario Tech students and kids under 14 years of age are free. Parking can be found on campus for free and concession prices are not exorbitant. Although the presentation and venue are not flashy, the quality of play on the ice is solid and the arena is comfortable. This all adds up to some solid entertainment for a few hours at a very low cost. A great return on investment for sure.

Extras 2

An extra mark for the original Ridgebacks name.

An extra mark for the rebranding to Ontario Tech University and the new logos for the Ridgebacks.

Final Thoughts

Ontario Tech has successfully carved out a nice little niche for itself in the Generals-dominant hockey market in Oshawa. Taking in a Ridgebacks game comes with a simple, yet effective presentation and a return on investment which is fantastic. When in Oshawa, a trip to see some OUA hockey is a great idea for the whole family.

Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and on Instagram.

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