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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Haymarket IcePlex – James Madison Dukes

Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43

Haymarket IcePlex 15155 Washington Street Haymarket, VA 20169

Year Opened: 2011


Hey, Hey, Haymarket

The James Madison University club ice hockey team represents the school and competes in Division 2 of ACHA. Through 2018, the team played their home games at Main Street Arena in Charlottesville, about an hour’s drive from campus, but the arena closed over that summer, forcing the team to find a new home.

Now, the Dukes play their home games at the Haymarket IcePlex, about an hour and a half from campus. The IcePlex is a small municipal rink located about 45 minutes outside Washington, D.C. There are two rinks in the IcePlex, the North Rink and the South Rink. When we visited, the Dukes were playing in the North Rink, but they play in the South Rink sometimes as well. There are minor differences between the two, but none that would impact our review significantly.

Food & Beverage 1

There are vending machines in the IcePlex which sell snacks plus hot and cold drinks. Many fans can be seen sipping on coffee and hot chocolate during the game. However, that’s all there is here.

Atmosphere 2

There isn’t much going on here other than the game itself. There aren’t even seats. Rather, fans stand on the other side of the glass from the ice. The good news is you get to be close to the action at all times, though some fans were flinching or even turning and running a few steps away every time a puck or player bounced off the boards. It can also be kind of tiring to be on your feet for hours at a time.

There is a scoreboard and a public address announcer, but that’s about it otherwise. What you think of the atmosphere will very much vary depending on whether you’re a hockey purist or looking for a more intricate experience.

Neighborhood 3

Haymarket is a typical suburban town and the area around the IcePlex tends to reflect that. Giuseppe’s is a popular Italian restaurant right across the street, and after you eat you can head down the street to Cookies & Cream for some fantastic homemade ice cream. You can also head down Route 55 to Lee Highway where you will find some more shops.

History buffs may also want to make the short drive up the road to tour the Civil War battlefields in Manassas. The First and Second Battles of Bull Run were fought here and were two of the major battles during the war.

Fans 3

The fans at JMU games tend to be mostly family and friends, but those who do show up are active and know their stuff. They know all the players by name and cheer them on throughout the night. Unfortunately, IcePlex policy prohibits “excessively” banging on the glass, so fans who are looking to pound the boards will be out of luck here.

Access 3

The Haymarket IcePlex is located right off Interstate 66. There are several exits for Haymarket, and any one of them will eventually get you to the arena. The parking lot is small but sufficient for the crowds. However, the entrance is not marked. Confusingly, you do not enter through the door by the giant sign that says “Haymarket IcePlex.” This leads to a private office that is not accessible to the public. Instead, you will use the only door that is not explicitly marked as not being an entrance, which will put you in the small lobby of the rink.

Once there, be sure to check the whiteboard to see if the Dukes will be playing in the North or South Rink. The South Rink is directly through a set of glass doors, but to get to the North Rink, you will have to walk through part of the South Rink, then turn right and go through a door marked only by a small overhead sign.

There is no place to sit during the game, so expect to be on your feet for several hours. There is also no point in getting here early to watch the players warm up, as another group will have the ice until only a few minutes before this game starts, so you might as well wait in your warm car where you are capable of sitting down.

Return on Investment 4

Admission is free, parking is free, and you will not pay much if anything for food as there is not much here to buy. However, there is not enough offered here to merit the top ranking.

Extras 1

There are dozens of banners on the walls of the IcePlex honoring the myriad of teams that call it home. That’s about the only extra here.

Final Thoughts

Club hockey usually does not draw huge crowds, to begin with, and even less so when it’s being played an hour and a half from campus in a municipal rink with no seating. However, James Madison has managed to make the most of that experience here at the Haymarket IcePlex.

While some may not like standing on their feet for hours just to watch a low-level hockey game, there are others out there who feel the hockey experience is at its best when standing right up against the boards.

This is hockey at its purest right here – no distractions, just the action on the ice up close and personal. For a hockey purist, this is a dream come true. On the other hand, casual fans expecting all the sideshows they’d get at a professional rink may wonder why they even bothered to come out. It will all depend on their perspective.

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