Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Dan Snyder Memorial Arena @ Woolwich Memorial Centre
24 Snyder St. S.
Elmira, ON N3B 1Z1
Year Opened: 2009
How Sweet is Sugar Land?
Founded in 1971, the Elmira Sugar Kings have been stalwarts at the Junior B level, their existence hanging on through several different leagues. Starting in the Western Ontario Junior Hockey League, then moving to the Southwestern Junior B Hockey League, Waterloo-Wellington Junior B Hockey League, Midwestern Junior B Hockey League, and finally, as of 2007, the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Sugar Kings have enjoyed a fair bit of success.
The Sugar Kings are the holders of three league championships, before the consolidation of Junior B hockey in Ontario, and three Sutherland Cups as Ontario Junior B Champions. The name and logo come from Elmira hosting the largest Maple Syrup festival in the world, a staple in Elmira since 1965.
Home for the Elmira Sugar Kings is the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena, named after the late NHL player who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2003. The arena is found in the Woolwich Memorial Centre, owned by the Township of Woolwich and built in 2009. The arena holds 1,300 fans and is part of a larger recreation complex. The Elmira Sugar Kings are the sporting staple in small-town Elmira and have seen future NHL talent like Ric and Rod Seiling, Dan Snyder, Cam Stewart, Dennis Wideman, and Darryl Sittler.
Food & Beverage 3
Concessions at the Woolwich Memorial Centre are what one would expect from a small town arena. On the lower level, there is a small snack bar that provides beverages to the larger Centre. Upstairs, inside the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena, there is a main concession stand that sells the usual arena staples. Hot dogs, popcorn, pizza, nachos, and candy are the main items.
Coffee, hot chocolate, bottled water, and Pepsi products are the soft drinks available. The Blueline Club, a few steps away from the concession area, offers a variety of alcoholic beverages. Local brewery Rural Roots Brewery has a special brew for the Sugar Kings, “Always A King” among beer selections.
Built in 2009, the Woolwich Memorial Centre is one of the more modern buildings in the GOJHL. It boasts an attractive silver siding and glass exterior and serves as a hub for the community of Woolwich Township and as a living memorial for those local veterans who lost their lives in armed conflicts. The Woolwich Memorial Centre acts as a larger recreation facility with two pools, a gym, two ice rinks, an indoor track, and outdoor sports fields. Upon entering the bright and clean facility, fans are greeted with a large display case with a stone statue of a soldier, to remind patrons of the ‘memorial’ part of the Woolwich Memorial Centre.
To get to the main arena, the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena, fans must traverse a set of stairs and are met with temporary tables for ticket sales and a table for merchandise sales. Trophy cases are common and well-maintained at the Woolwich Memorial Centre. A large case sits outside the Dan Snyder Arena and houses awards earned by youth hockey teams and artifacts from local celebrities.
Upon entering the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena, the connection between the community and the Elmira Sugar Kings is immediately apparent. The ice surface runs from north to south with eight rows of seating along the east and west sides of the ice surface. The entrance to the arena is at the concourse level, a walking track behind the seating area. The north side of the building features signage for several teams that call the arena home, including the Sugar Kings, who are proudly trumpeted as a community-owned team.
The north and west sides feature several accolades for youth hockey teams over the years, but it is across centre ice, from north to south, which is reserved for the accomplishments of the Sugar Kings. Of note are the five Cherrey Cup Championships (1974, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002) as the best team in the Midwestern Junior Hockey League, as well as the ultimate prize, four Sutherland Cups (1997, 2001, 2011, 2017) as champions of Junior B hockey in Ontario, across multiple leagues.
Since 2007, Junior B hockey has been consolidated into one league, the GOJHL, where the Sutherland Cup is awarded to the champion. Previously, the winners of various leagues competed against each other for the Sutherland Cup. Two other banners of note include a banner honouring the legacy of Jeff Snyder as a coach, GM, and Director of Hockey Operations. The other is, of course, for Dan Snyder who played for the Sugar Kings and is from Elmira.
The gameday production at a Sugar Kings game is very simple. There is a 50/50 draw and the requisite music during the downtime. The PA system is very good and the announcer is easy to understand. There is not much else to it; just hockey, pure and simple.
Elmira is a town of only around 10,000, but there are a couple of things of note for fans. The Arena is located a block west of Arthur Street, which is the main street in Elmira. However, it is a residential area where the arena is, and a fast trip in the car to a spot for something to eat or drink before or after the game is probably necessary. Other than the expected fast food restaurants, a couple of original spots fans may want to check out include Elmira Donuts & Deli, Arthur Street Kitchen and Bar, and Rural Roots Brewing Company.
For other sporting options, fans will need to head south to Waterloo as the Sugar Kings are the attraction in Elmira. There are some other tourist options, however, including the Waterloo Central Railway, Kissing Bridge Trail, and Elmira Theatre Company. Being in town for the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival would be ideal to get a real sense of the town of Elmira. For fans wishing to stay in town, try Bristow’s Inn or head to Waterloo or St. Jacobs for more accommodation options.
The Elmira Sugar Kings are one of the best-supported teams in the GOJHL. In the 2023-2024 season, at the time of writing, the Sugar Kings are averaging more than 550 fans per game. This is normally where they end up annually. The fans in attendance are smart and supportive of their squad and the Sugar Kings are the sporting draw in Elmira.
Getting to the Woolwich Memorial Centre is not difficult at all. Elmira is in Woolwich Township, at the north corner of Waterloo Region, north of Kitchener-Waterloo. Highway 85, before the Elmira bypass, becomes Arthur Street. Getting through town to the arena is not difficult at all. For fans wanting to take public transit, there are GRT bus stops on Arthur Street. Fans should check out the Grand River Transit website for schedules, fares, and maps.
Getting in and around Woolwich Memorial Centre is not an issue at all. The walking track in the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena makes plenty of space for fans to move around during the game and there are plenty of spots for fans to stand if that is what they enjoy. The washroom facilities are good for the arena also.
Return on Investment 5
GOJHL hockey offers a solid return for little investment. Elmira Sugar Kings tickets cost $12 for an adult, $10 for students/seniors and $5 for children. Parking at the Woolwich Memorial Centre is free and concession prices are decent. The caliber of hockey presented is solid and there is great support for the Sugar Kings, which adds to the atmosphere. Overall, a great night of family fun can be had without breaking the bank.
An extra mark for the Atlanta Thrashers hosting a promotional practice to help open the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena on October 18, 2009. An extra mark for the Sugar Kings Alumni, which included Dan Snyder, Rod Seiling, Ric Seiling, Dennis Wideman, Mackenzie Blackwood, and Darryl Sittler.
With the prices rising across all sporting events, finding something that is fun and not that expensive becomes an increasing challenge. Checking out some Junior B hockey in the GOJHL is a great solution and the Elmira Sugar Kings are one of the premier teams in the league. Fans won’t be disappointed by catching a game.