Hockey

SMU women’s hockey fans freeze amid hot season

The SMU women’s hockey team is on fire, but their arena is as cold as ice

Fans at Saturday's hockey game at Alumni Arena bundle up to keep warm in the rink.
Fans at Saturday’s hockey game at Alumni Arena bundle up to keep warm in the rink.   Rebecca Brown

The Saint Mary’s University women’s hockey team is scorching their competition this year, yet fans are complaining the rink is too cold.

The Huskies are leading the pack in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) women’s hockey standings with a total of 20 points this season. After The Signal reported last week about the cold temperatures in Alumni Arena, we decided to attend the team’s game against Mount Allison University on Saturday to check the temperature inside the rink.

According to our Accu-temp thermometer, Alumni Arena was 4 C on game day. That was enough to get some people talking.

“This is our fourth year following the team around the circuit, we’ve been to all the other facilities and this is by far the oldest and coldest in the AUS,” said Mike Bujold, a women’s hockey fan from Rothesay, N.B.

Out of the seven arenas that house AUS varsity women’s hockey teams, only two rinks do not have heating – Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre in Sackville, N.B. and Alumni Arena.

Bujold said there is one place at Alumni Arena where fans can go to warm up.

“If you really get cold, you have to go in the washroom,” he said.

The Huskies ended the first period on Saturday with a 2-0 lead over the Mounties. With the sound of the buzzer, fans shuffled out of the rink to escape the cold. Many people gathered in the main foyer of the arena with their blankets while others went outside to heat up in their cars.

Renée George was one of the few people left in the stands during the first period intermission. She says she does everything she can to fight off the cold when she comes to SMU to watch her girlfriend referee the hockey games.

“I hate the cold,” said George. “But you can’t avoid it when you want to support the referee, so I dress warmly.”

She says Alumni Arena is her least favourite place to watch the games and will sometimes try to find an excuse not to go.