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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Slush Puppie Place - Carr-Harris Challenge Cup


Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14


Slush Puppie Place

1 Tragically Hip Way

Kingston, ON K7K 0B4



Year Opened: 2008

Capacity: 5,614


The Oldest Rivalry in Hockey


*On February 16th, 2024, the Leon’s Centre was officially renamed Slush Puppie Place, 8 days after the 2024 review of the Carr-Harris Cup


On March 10, 1886, Lennox Irving scored the only goal for Queen’s University against Royal Military College on the frozen Kingston Harbour.  There were few things recognizable in this watershed matchup, recognized as the Oldest Rivalry in Hockey, to the game that is played today.  Fast forward 140 years and Queen’s and RMC still meet on the ice multiple times each year. 


However, since 1986 it has been for the Carr-Harris Challenge Cup.  Beginning in 2012, the game has been played at the neutral site Leon’s Centre, home of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, and a major local event that draws the largest gate by far for either team.  The game is named after Professor Robert Harris, who was the first professor of civil engineering and architecture at the Royal Military College of Canada in 1879. 


He would later become an engineering professor at Queen’s University and would adopt the name Carr-Harris to honour his late mother Sarah Carr.  Over the years, the Carr-Harris name has been prominent in Kingston and associated with railway construction projects, military projects, and sporting events.


The most recent home of the Carr-Harris Cup is the Leon’s Centre.  Set to be renamed Slush Puppie Place sometime in 2024, Leon’s Centre was built to keep the Frontenacs in Kingston in 2008.  It has gone through several different names including the K-Rock Centre and Rogers K-Rock Centre.  At a capacity of 5,614, the Leon’s Centre is a hub for Eastern Ontario’s live entertainment and OHL hockey and is the perfect location for a major university event like the Carr-Harris Cup.


Food & Beverage 3

Being an OHL venue, Leon’s Centre offers the expected OHL concession items at some different stands.  Canada’s own Pizza Pizza offers a variety of pizza options as well as hot dogs and pretzels; Barracks Grill offers burgers, chicken fingers, hot dogs fries and poutine; YGK Eats offers pizza, hot dogs and nachos; and Smoke’s Poutinerie offers a variety of different poutine concoctions. 


The soft drinks of choice at Leon’s Centre are Coca-Cola products.  There are also a few different beer options including Molson Canadian and Heineken.  Look for the Riverbend Brewing stand for a local craft beer option.  The Molson Canadian Brewhouse offers a standup bar area for patrons to gather and get a drink.


Atmosphere 4

Leon’s Centre is an attractive building in a premier location in Kingston.  It is located in the Inner Harbour neighbourhood just steps from the water.  The exterior is a mix of grey brick, silver siding,g, and glass which gives the 2008 building a clean and modern look.  The northeast side of the building is where fans can find the ruins of the original Fort Frontenac, which was originally erected in 1673 and currently has a heritage marker to denote its historic value.


Inside the Leon’s Centre fans enter directly into the main concourse, which is light coloured, clean,n and bright.  It is a horseshoe configuration and does not allow patrons to do a full 360-degree walk.  The pillars in the concourse feature murals of major acts that have played at Leon’s Centre.  Of special note is the pillar with the visage of Gord Downie, lead singer of Kingston’s favourite sons, The Tragically Hip, who died way too young. 


Also of note in the concourse are the members of the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame.  There are always fun nuggets for treasure hunters to find in local halls of fame.  In Kingsto, those include NHL legends Kirk Muller, Doug Gilmou,r and Don Cherry.  Temporary merchandise tables for both Queen’s University and Royal Military College were present in the concourse.


When fans enter the seating bowl from the lower concourse, they will find a single tier of seating with another concourse above the seats.  The ice runs from west to east and fans who wish a picture of the Kingston Frontenacs logo on centre ice should sit on the south side.  The press box is found on the south side above the upper concourse along with suites that form a horseshoe with the west side open.  Frontenacs honoured numbers and other banners hang on the west wall and a large poster hangs at the top of the east side delineating Leon’s Centre as the home of The Tragically Hip.  A decent video board hangs above centre ice.


The gameday production for the Carr-Harris Cup takes a normal OUA hockey production up a notch.  The Queen’s bagpipes and band are found in the upper concourse and west end of the arena and play pre-game, during some stoppages, and after the Queen’s goals.  The RMC band is in an adjacent section in the west end and also plays throughout stoppages. 


The game begins with an old-time crier proclaiming the Carr-Harris Cup open and introducing the teams entering the ice surface.  The crier is very Kingston, however, is required to yell without the aid of a microphone and is therefore difficult to understand.  A member of the Carr-Harris family is also present for the ceremonial first face-off. 


Unfortunately, the PA system at Leon’s Centre is not terrific and it can be difficult to understand announcements.  At the first intermission, the Queen’s Gaels figure skating team performs to the delight of the crowd.  At the end of the game, the MVPs of both teams are presented with their awards, and the Carr-Harris Cup is also presented to the winner.



Neighbourhood 5

The Leon’s Centre is located in the Inner Harbour neighbourhood of Kingston, probably the best place to be in the city.  Just across the harbour, which is where the very first matchup between Queen’s and RMC took place, the picturesque campus of the Royal Military College of Canada can be seen.  Queen’s University campus is a decent walk to the west. 


The heart of the tourist section of Kingston, the Inner Harbour offers a plethora of bars and restaurants for pre or post-game food and drink.  Some of the options include Chez Piggy, Red House, The Toucan, Merchant Taphouse, The Heist, Melt & Grill, Harper’s Burger Bar, Iron Duke on Wellington, and Wooden Heads.


There are also several sporting options available in Kingston.  Leon’s Centre is the primary home of the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL.  The Queen’s Gaels field several athletic teams including hockey at their regular home, the Kingston Memorial Centre, basketball, and football


The RMC Paladins also have hockey at their regular on-campus home, Constantine Arena, among other sports.  Other tourist options in Kingston include Fort Henry, the Canadian Penitentiary Museum, Bellevue House, and the Original Hockey Hall of Fame.  Fans wishing to stay near Leon’s Centre can choose the Delta or Holiday Inn which are steps from the arena.


Fans 5

The Carr-Harris Cup, along with The Frosty Mug and Crowchild Classic, is among the best-attended USports hockey games each year.  The game traditionally draws between 3,500 and 4,000 fans a year.  That is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 17 to 40 times what a normal Queen’s or RMC game will attract.  It is an event with the majority of fans in attendance from one of the two schools. 


This is especially excellent for RMC which has a very small student population of around 1,100.  RMC also uses the Carr-Harris Cup as a big alumni event.  The students in attendance add to the atmosphere and the small but mighty RMC contingent are very loud.  The most popular chant at the Queen’s students from the RMC students is “Daddy’s Money” pointing out the perceived entitled nature of Queen’s students.

 

Access 4

Leon’s Centre is located in the Inner Harbour neighbourhood of Kingston encircled by The Tragically Hip Way, Place D’Armes, King Stree,t and Ontario Street or Highway 2.  The main entry to Kingston is Highway 401, which is significantly north of Leon’s Centre.  Traffic should not be an issue but fans coming from out of town will have a long way to traverse through town. 


An alternate way to Leon’s Centre would be taking the Kingston-LaSalle Causeway, which comes from the opposite side of the harbour.  There are some open parking lots south of the arena, but there is a cost and be warned, they are very messy due to not being paved.  For fans who wish to take public transit, there are bus stops on Barrack Street and Ontario Street.  Fans should check the Kingston Transit website for fares, schedules, and maps.


Getting around the Leon’s Centre is not too difficult, however, fans need to recognize that there are no 360-degree options for walking around the arena.  Washroom facilities are good for the arena. Junior hockey security protocols are changing.  Fans are encouraged to consult the Leon’s Centre website for the latest security protocols including prohibited items and bag policy.



Return on Investment 5

The Carr-Harris Cup is one of the premier events in OUA hockey, yet the price of tickets does not reflect that.  Adult tickets are only $15.  Concession prices are decent and there will be a cost for parking.  That being said, the experience of a Carr-Harris Cup is unlike anything else and worth the small cost.  OUA hockey is already a great value and the Carr-Harris Cup takes that up a notch.


Extras 3

An extra mark for Queen’s and RMC sharing the oldest hockey rivalry in the world.


An extra mark for the connection that the game and schools have kept with the Carr-Harris family.


An extra mark for the Carr-Harris Cup as one of the premier events on the USports calendar.


Final Thoughts

In the sporting landscape where costs are rising exponentially, fans are required to re-evaluate their sporting dollars.  It is especially unique for fans to experience a premier event for such a small investment.  The Carr-Harris Challenge Cup brings just about everything that a fan could want.  The oldest rivalry in hockey with the Queen’s Gaels and RMC Paladins, a great sense of history, a great venue, an excellent city to visit, and a whole lot of fun.


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




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