Hockey is really North America’s sport, and you can see it in the coast to coast pride. For hockey lovers, there are a few cities that should be must-visits for top teams, enthusiastic fans, and unique memorabilia. Make sure you lean into the hometown pride, chat up the locals, and bring your hockey spirit.
Windsor, Nova Scotia
Windsor is known as ‘the birthplace of hockey’, though it’s hotly contested within Canada. You can trace the written hockey story back to a pick up game on a frozen pond there in 1800, and the town holds a lot of pride around its hockey-centric past. Make sure to visit the Hockey Heritage Museum, or head to the Long Pond Heritage Hockey Classic. Local team the Valley Maple Leafs play regularly at the Hant County Arena. Catch a game with the townsfolk, and make sure to show your Windsor pride.
Self described Hockeytown, Detroit carries that handle seriously. A legacy city, the Detroit Red Wings have the third-highest number of Stanley Cup victories in the league. Named one of the best cities for hockey fans, Detroit really loves its sport. If you’re looking for a pint and a place to catch the game head to Ciccarelli’s 22, owned by Hall of Famer Dino Ciccarelli and boasting over 40 big screens.
Did you know that Saskatchewan has produced more NHL hockey players than any other province in Canada? Including Gordie Howe, nicknamed Mr. Hockey. Saskatoon is enthusiastic about its sport, and its young athletes. Head to a Saskatoon Blades game to see the crop of fresh, excited talent, followed by a visit to the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame.
Described as the ‘Best Hockey City in North America,’ Montreal was home to the first indoor hockey game in March 1875. Hockey as we know it today originated in the city in 1877. Needless to say, Montrealers love hockey, and the sport is deeply rooted to the city. Don’t miss a Habs game while you’re in town, or head to one of the over 200 public rinks in the city for a round of pick-up.
Thunder Bay, Ontario
A small town in Northern Ontario, Thunder Bay has produced approximately 100 professional hockey players. Pack your skates and make sure to chat up locals about the sport. Thunder Bay is home to an impressive number of junior teams, including Thunder Bay Kings, Thunder Bay North Stars junior hockey team, Lakehead University Thunderwolves, and Thunder Bay Women’s Hockey League. And they love to celebrate their teams’ successes. Look out for the many championship banners hanging in arenas across town.
Buffalo, New York
Major and minor teams alike get a lot of love and support in Buffalo. Home to the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, as well as the AA Cup North American Championship tournament, Buffalo is a city that is enthusiastic about hockey. HarborCenter is a unique waterfront building in the city that celebrates amateur hockey specifically, it includes two rinks, a hockey academy, training center and sports bar.
Flin Flon, Manitoba
A mining town in Northern Manitoba, Flin Flon is the hometown of Bobby Clarke and a dozen other NHL players. Junior team The Flin Flon Bombers are a fiercely competitive and energetic group to watch, and have produced a number of top players. The city was also recently the subject of documentary Flin Flon: A Hockey Town, which explores the city’s supportive hockey community, and their unique fixation on the Bombers.
Pittsburgh prides itself on being a blue-collar, working town. Steeltown is also known for its devotion to hockey, specifically to its Pittsburgh Penguins, who most recently won the cup back to back in 2016 and 2017. Big on street cred, Pittsburgh didn’t open its first indoor rink until 1899. Make sure to catch a Penguins game, and to take in history and memorabilia at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. Have kids? Carnegie Science Center’s Highmark SportsWorks hosts interactive hockey experiences, while the Pittsburgh zoo is home to literal penguins named after famed Penguins players.
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