Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43
Lawrence Larsen Rink at Mike Eruzione Center
45 Pauline St
Winthrop, MA 02152
Year Opened: 1975
Blades of Glory
The Boston Blades are a professional women’s hockey team that plays in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). Since beginning play in 2010, the Blades have won the Clarkson Cup as league champions twice, in 2013 and 2015. The Blades were the first US-based team in the circuit.
Over the course of their history, the Blades have been nomadic, calling several local rinks home, including Walter Brown Arena at Boston University, the John A. Ryan Arena in Watertown, Veterans Memorial Rink in Somerville, Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, the Bright-Landry Center at Harvard, Boch Ice Center in Dedham, the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, the Milton Academy Ice Rink, Rodman Arena in Walpole, Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington and the Edward T. Barry Ice Rink at UMass Boston. The team was able to find a home for their entire 2017-2018 home schedule at the Lawrence Larsen Rink at the Mike Eruzione Center.
Lawrence Larsen was involved with the town of Winthrop’s Little League and youth hockey programs for over 30 years. The Presidential Unit Citation honoree for his service in World War II would provide the children of Winthrop a place to skate in the winter by flooding the town’s tennis courts.
Mike Eruzione is a Winthrop native who is best known as the captain of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team that defeated the Soviet Union in the legendary “Miracle on Ice” game and went on to win the gold medal in Lake Placid.
Food & Beverage 2
There is a small concession stand in the lobby of the Eruzione Center. The standard snack bar menu won’t wow any visiting fans, but there’s enough here to get any Blades fan with the munchies through the game.
The menu is made up mostly of snack items including churros, fried dough, cotton candy and popcorn. There are assorted candies and sweets available for the many children who utilize the Larsen Rink. Fans looking for something a bit more substantial can select from nachos, hot dogs or pizza slices.
Cans of Pepsi products and bottles of Gatorade are available for thirsty Blades fans. Hot chocolate, tea and coffee are popular items in this chilly facility.
You wouldn’t expect an elaborate game day presentation at a facility like Larsen Rink, and you don’t get one during Blades games. The staff here do what they can, with music during play stoppages, raffles and giveaways throughout the game. It’s an old-school experience, and one that’s most fitting here.
Most of the noise generated here at Larsen Rink come from the many children in attendance. Mixed in with the few diehard fans in attendance, these youths, many decked out in their peewee jerseys, have a great time stomping on the metal bleachers filling up the chilly rink with noise.
Located less than six miles from TD Garden and Boston’s North End, the small town of Winthrop can hardly be considered a destination location. During the summer the beaches and nearby Deer Island are a draw, but during hockey season, there’s not as much to do in town. There are, however, a few good restaurants nearby should visiting fans be looking for a place to eat before or after the game.
Nick’s Place is located virtually across the street from the Eruzione Center, and provides a solid diner menu for patrons. As you would expect from a waterfront town like Winthrop, there are some nice seafood restaurants in town. Locals recommend Belle Isle Seafood.
Most fans going to a Blades game would be better served by heading into nearby Boston and exploring the many dining, entertainment and lodging options there.
The Blades have been overshadowed in the crowded Boston hockey scene by the arrival of the NWHL’s Pride, and their nomadic existence reflects this fact. Still, the team has a dedicated fan base that does a good job of filling the stands at Larsen Rink. A mix of locals, families and youth hockey players give the team a decent crowd. The CWHL does not release attendance figures, but the stands at Larsen Rink are pretty full during Blades games.
Winthrop is a small ocean-side community of 17,500 people in Greater Boston located at the northern entrance to Boston Harbor, close to Logan International Airport. Situated on a peninsula, the entire town occupies only 1.6 square miles. It is connected to Revere by a narrow isthmus and to East Boston by a bridge over the harbor inlet. Settled in 1630, Winthrop is one of the oldest communities in the United States.
Getting to Winthrop is actually easier than you may expect given its location. Located just off of Route 1A, Winthrop is just a few miles from Interstates 90 and 93. Of course, North Shore traffic is never very cooperative, so give yourself some extra time when going to a Blades game. With Winthrop’s location on a peninsula, there are only two ways in and out of town, via Main Street or the Winthrop Parkway (Route 145). Most fans will drive to Larsen Rink, but local residents using public transportation can take the 713 bus, which has a stop on Pauline Street right by the rink.
There’s a small parking lot in front of the Eruzione Center, and you may have to weave through the players warming up outside when you arrive. There is ample on-street parking nearby should late-arriving fans require it.
Upon entering the Eruzione Center, fans will enter into a small lobby where the snack bar, ticket table and merchandise table are located. Memorabilia honoring Winthrop’s most famous hockey son, Mike Eruzione, fill the trophy cases, and are certainly worth a look.
All the seating at Larsen Rink consists of metal bleachers without backs. The seating area starts at the near blue line and runs the length of the rink. Fans are welcome to stand on the boards at the near end, where there are no bleachers. Dress warmly when you visit Larsen Rink, as it’s really cold in there. REALLY cold. Fans will pack the lobby during intermission, or even go outside during the cold Massachusetts winter, to warm up.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets to Blades games cost fifteen dollars. Parking is free in the Eruzione Center parking lot. With reasonably priced concessions, a trip to a Boston Blades game is an affordable entertainment option for Greater Boston hockey fans.
An extra point is awarded for the display of memorabilia featuring Winthrop’s most notable hockey alumnus, Mike Eruzione. Artifacts from the 1980 Olympics fill the lobby’s trophy cases, much of it autographed by the local players who were on the team. Any hockey historian will enjoy looking around here.
As China prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Bejing, they have entered an agreement to sponsor two teams in the CWHL. Each of the five North American teams took a two-week road trip to play their games in China, and the Chinese-based teams do likewise in Canada and the United States. The two Chinese teams are a mix of nationals and CWHL veterans. Seeing the Chinese flag hanging alongside the American and Canadian flags at a hockey rink is a unique sight.
A final point is awarded for the sport of women’s hockey and its growing presence in today’s crowded sports scene. CWHL rosters are full of familiar names from the Olympics and international scene, and showing young female athletes that they can aspire to something greater is inspiring. The presence of so many youth players decked out in their hockey jerseys just reinforces this notion.
Unfortunately, the original professional women’s hockey team in the United States has been overshadowed in Boston since the Boston Pride and the National Women’s Hockey League started up three years ago. Rumors of a merger between the two leagues pop up from time to time, making the future of these franchises a bit murky. Still, a trip out to see the Blades and these pioneering athletes is a worthy and affordable one for hockey fans, no matter what your age or gender may be.