Last year, one of America’s most iconic local community rinks captured the first-ever Kraft Hockeyville title — Johnstown’s Cambria County War Memorial Arena, where the cult classic Slap Shot was filmed.
This year, perhaps another hallowed rink will bring home the award.
And speaking of hallowed rinks, it’s fitting that the winner of this year’s Hockeyville contest will get to host an NHL game during the preseason — because the big leagues have seen their fair share of historic barns, too.
And with those historic barns often come some, ahem, special quirks.
A few examples:
Joe Louis Arena (end boards)
It’s not like The Joe needed anything else to stand out among the 29 other active NHL rinks. Having opened in 1979, it’s one of the oldest arenas currently in use and, along with Madison Square Garden in New York, is one of just two without a corporate sponsor name.
But it’s also got those end boards.
The “exceptionally lively” kick plates gained national exposure during the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, when the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins took notice that the Red Wings were using the sharp, quick bounces to their advantage.
“They know the boards,” forward Max Talbot said, per ESPN. “They were using that for set plays.”
Utilizing those boards has been an ace up Detroit’s sleeve for quite some time — Hall of Fame d-man Nicklas Lidstrom was a master at using them. But over the years, opposing players have figured out how to take advantage, too.
Like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who combined for this highlight-reel tally in 2013:
United Center (noise)
Having attended several Stanley Cup Finals games in Chicago, I can confirm one thing:
The United Center is freakin’ loud.
It’s easy to see why. With a capacity of 20,500 — there were 22,424 people in attendance for last year’s decisive Game 6 win over Tampa Bay — the United Center is one of the NHL’s largest rinks. And when it comes to giving home-ice advantage, the fans, well… the fans know how to take advantage.
The noise begins right at the start of every contest, when Jim Cornelison comes out to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. If there’s a more energetic way to begin a game, I’ve yet to see it:
BB&T Center (rats)
So, the story goes like this.
Prior to Florida’s season-opening game in 1995-96, forward Scott Mellanby killed a rat with his stick in the locker room, then went out and scored two goals with the same stick. The “Rat Trick,” as it was so coined, caught on like wildfire as the Panthers made an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final:
While the building has changed — that phenomenon occurred in the Miami Arena, the Panthers now play at BB&T — the phenomenon continues to this day. The Panthers, on their way back to the playoffs for the first time in four years, had a rat attack on Thursday night against the Devils, which resulted in Florida getting tagged with a delay of game penalty:
A reminder you can check out all the latest from this year’s Hockeyville competition at KraftHockeyville.com. The top 10 finalists will be announced on Apr. 9.