February 18, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 77  

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Hockey to watch with no NHL

Ian Denomme

Sports Editor

Aaron Lynett/Gazette
THE GAME MUST GO ON! Canadian hockey fans may turn to the Western Mustangs or London Knights for entertainment if the NHL strike goes through.

If the NHL’s collective bargaining issues are not resolved by next October, which they almost certainly will not, the league will be left with another damaging, lengthy layoff.

However, hockey fans will not have to look far for high quality, live, affordable, hockey action. London offers two entertaining and inexpensive alternatives to the NHL.

One of the best kept secrets in hockey is right here on campus. The Western Mustangs’ men’s hockey team is always one of the top teams in the country and the level of play in Ontario University Athletics is extremely high.

The only thing missing from OUA hockey is the hype the NHL gets. University hockey gets very little media attention despite the high calibre of play. Arenas are also sparsely filled during these games, but with the right atmosphere, they can be very exciting.

Instead of paying $100 for a seat and dozens more at the concession stands, you can pay about $5 to get into any Western game.

Although there are some games which are not as entertaining, such as the 10-goal victories Western often gets, there are many which are outstanding. Any game against the likes of Brock, York and especially Lakehead are among the best hockey games I have ever seen.

If you’re still not convinced about the quality of OUA hockey, go to a weekend double-header between Lakehead and Western. If two of those games don’t change your mind, then nothing will and you’re not a real hockey fan.

For just a few dollars more and a longer bus ride, you can also see one of the Canadian Hockey League’s best teams, the London Knights. CHL hockey offers another entertaining brand of hockey, with a number of quality teams.

The Knights are one of the top teams and the new John Labatt Centre is one of the best hockey venues in North America. Like the OUA, junior hockey is very fast-paced, action-packed hockey.

A sold out JLC also creates an atmosphere most NHL teams wish they had. The Knights attendance is usually around 8,000, which isn’t too far off from the average attendance of the Florida Panthers or Carolina Hurricanes.

If you are truly a hockey purist you would also like walking into a arena on a Saturday morning and watching five-year-olds play. They are there for the right reasons.

While no one wants an NHL lockout, it is bound to happen. Consider these alternatives to get your fill of hockey. You will need to get it somehow.



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