After spending a relaxing week in Havana, Cuba, I returned to chilly Canada and paid a visit to my parents' new home in Belleville, Ontario. Coincidentally, the OHL's Belleville Bulls had a rare 4:05 start on the day I arrived, so I took my girlfriend and her new Canon camera over to Yardmen Arena to watch the action.
Built in 1978, Yardmen Arena is another old-style rink that has endured rather well over the years. Located just south of Highway 401 (exit 544), the arena has several large parking lots that are free and easy to enter and exit.
The seating bowl is quite unique with almost no seats at the ends of the rink. There is a single row of seats at either end that provide an interesting view (above) from midway up the bowl, and a few seats right on the glass that we used late in the game. Otherwise, all seats are along the sides, with 15 rows in the lower bowl and a small balcony of two or three rows above that, as you can see below. These balcony seats are excellent, providing a view almost directly above the ice, and subsequently go for $19.50, a bit more than the regular seats at $17. The upper rows of the bowl seats are not blocked by the glass, so if you can't get a balcony seat, I would suggest sitting there. We managed to get a pair of freebies from the lady having a party in the suite, although we couldn't join her party, we managed to find a couple of good seats right along the concourse.
After entering by the main door, you then get into the arena proper by walking up a set of stairs that doubles as the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame, with pictures of notable local athletes. Very few recognizable names here for me, as I'm not from the area, but it is always good to see the past properly recognized. For example, back in 1958, the Belleville McFarlands won the Allan Cup (awarded to Canada's top senior amateur team) and went on to win the World Championship in 1959. These accomplishments are duly noted on the back wall of the rink.
Walking around the narrow concourse, you will see a number of other banners and displays honouring Belleville's hockey history; my favourite is the NHL honour roll below.
There's also a bull's head affixed to the wall which I found to be a nice touch.
Food here is typical with nothing of note. If you need to eat, buy before the game as there are not many concession stands and it could be busy during intermissions.
There is a video scoreboard but it wasn't used, which annoyed me because I wanted to see the replays of some goals. The ice surface is Olympic sized, which you might be able to ascertain from the view below, which is quite rare among North American rinks. It didn't affect the quality of the game though, it was still pretty sloppy, although not as physical as I expected.
Overall, this is an excellent place to catch a junior hockey game. The fans were good despite a poor performance by the home team, and I was able to walk around and take pictures from a number of places without any hassle. I highly recommend a trip to Belleville to check out the Bulls if you are a hockey fan.
Both teams are near the bottom of the standings and both are challenged in the scoring department. As a sign of the dearth of top-level talent here, neither team had a player in the World Junior Championships.
The crowd was energetic early, but their team didn't respond at all. The Bulls were lackadaisical from the opening face-off, at one point being outshot 10-0, and relying on goalie Tyson Teichmann to keep them in it. Peterborough finally beat him but I didn't see the goal as some moron was returning to his seat during play and blocked my view of the net. Aargh!!!! Sit down while the game is on!!!
Anyway, the Petes finished the period with a 22-6 advantage in shots but only the single marker to show for it. Belleville tightened up in the 2nd, but Teichmann fell apart, allowing 3 weak goals in just 1:34 (that's one of them above), and the game was essentially decided.
Peterborough went defensive after that and coasted to an easy 6-1 win. Nashville's 1st rounder Austin Watson had a hat trick (he's celebrating his third goal above) to lead the winners while Andrew D'Agostini (below) saved 26 of 27 shots in the Peterborough net. Nobody on Belleville deserves any recognition.
With the game being rather unexciting, it gave us a chance to try out my girlfriend's new camera, which is fantastic and much better than my little point-and-shoot. Some of the better action pictures here are from her. Sadly, I've been banned from using the camera on my own (rightly so as I have a tendency to break things) so for the most part, the pictures on the blog will continue to be pretty crappy, as below.
P.K. Subban's younger brother Malcolm is a goalie for Belleville and was coming off OHL Goaltender of the Week honours. He was the backup for the game, but must have wondered if he'd be brought in. That's him below checking the scoreboard after the fifth Pete goal.
I was planning to start another trip from December 29th, but my girlfriend decided to fly over for her year-end holidays which resulted in the trip to Cuba and me canceling the drive to Pittsburgh for the Winter Classic. With tickets to that game unreasonably overpriced and the game delayed due to rainy conditions, it might have been a lucky break after all.
The girlfriend is going back to Japan shortly though, which gives me a few days to enjoy a short trip along with my friend Sharpie. We start with an OHL tilt on January 2nd between the top two teams in the league, Saginaw and Mississauga. The following day has the two World Junior Semi-Finals in Buffalo, with a potential Canada/USA game in the evening. Tuesday and Wednesday will see us in Cleveland for the AHL and then the Raptors/Cavaliers. We return to Canada on Thursday to watch the Blues/Leafs and after a brief stop at the parents, I'll return to Toronto to watch the NLL season opener between the Edmonton Rush and Toronto Rock on January 8th. After that, it will be very quiet as there's not much to see for the next few months. But I'll be commenting on a variety of topics in the meantime, so check back regularly.
Happy New Year everyone!