The Springs trip

Ahhh…. Colorado Springs…. my favorite WCHA destination.

The weather always seems to be outstanding (65 and sunny on my last two trips… which were in December and January). The scenery is wonderful with the mountains in the background and Pikes Peak towering above the rest of them. The area around the rink is loaded with places to eat and sleep. And the arena itself is solid.

My latest trip to the Springs didn’t disappoint. It was my seventh trip there and I haven’t had a bad experience yet.

THE CITY

Colorado Springs feels a bit like Fargo, but it is very sprawling. It actually covers more square miles than the city of Denver. To get from the Springs airport (south end) to the Air Force Academy (north end) takes almost 40 minutes. The backdrop of the city is beautiful. You have Cheyenne Mountain (home of NORAD) on the south end and Pike’s Peak on the north end.

Within walking distance of the arena, you have a Buffalo Wild Wings, an Outback, an Italian place and a Chili’s, which always tests how much chips and salsa I can dominate. I believe there are five hotels within walking distance, including a Hampton Inn that’s in the arena’s parking lot.

WORLD ARENA

The atmosphere in the arena is a lot different than what you see in WCHA towns around here. The student section is only one row across two sections. There were no more than 40 students or so at the game. Like Denver, the crowd is generally older, so it’s not very rowdy in there. In Grand Forks, it’s extremely hard to spot someone not wearing any UND or Sioux apparel at games. CC fans don’t wear CC stuff as much.

In fact, I was standing in the lobby 25 minutes before the game with a friend and we decided to count how many people we could see wearing Sioux gear compared to CC gear at that moment. We counted twice as many with Sioux gear. There’s a large alumni base out in Colorado and they come out in droves to see UND. The young players who had never been to Springs were all Tweeting on Saturday night about how they couldn’t believe the loud ‘Let’s go Sioux’ chant as they left the ice. Wait til they go to Denver. The Sioux fans are even louder there.

THE PET PEEVE

The only pet peeve I have about the Springs, and many fans probably share this, is that they do not show replays of UND goals in World Arena or in the press box. If you want to go back and double check how someone got the puck, you are out of luck. I don’t understand the reason for doing this and I hope they change it come the NCHC era.

THINGS TO DO

There’s quite a bit to do in Colorado Springs, if you ever make the trip. I went to Garden of the Gods my first time in Springs with my cousin Trinity, who was a CC student at the time. It’s a great park, where you can walk around and check out some really crazy rock formations. People rock climb there, too. Nearby, you can take a train to the top of Pike’s Peak. I haven’t done that yet, but have heard good things and I really need to do that next time.

If you want to go out after the games, downtown is really hopping. Even moreso than Grand Forks. Some bars have started to get a little shady, though, as one was conducting pat-downs before allowing people in (better than the bar with the metal detector in East St. Louis that I went to at the ’07 Frozen Four, I suppose).

There are a lot of street vendors, but you have to look for the guy with a hot dog stand on the east side of Tejon Street between Pike’s Peak Avenue and Kiowa Street. It is the finest dining in the Springs. He has what used to be called the spicy cajun dog and is now called ‘hot link.’ I was frightened when I saw the menu and didn’t see the spicy cajun dog on it anymore, but the trip was saved when I found out it only changed names because of ownership. So, I ordered three and finished off the natural hat trick to show Springs newbie Tom Miller how it’s done.

Photo 1: Colorado Springs. Pike’s Peak is the one in the background on the right side. From this angle, it doesn’t look larger than the other peaks. From the airport, you can see how it towers over the others.

Photo 2: Here’s a picture from the World Arena area. There’s a cool pond area with ducks swimming around. You can see the rink in the background on the left (the white building).

Photo 3: A view of World Arena.

Photo 4: The student section. This picture was taken after the opening faceoff. You can see there are students in the first row and others just fill in behind because they know those seats will be open.

Photo 5: View of World Arena from the upper row of the press box. There are two rows in the press box. You can see the bottom row (where the stats people sit) in this photo.

Photo 5: This is the upper row of the press box, where the writers and opposing SID sit.

Photo 6: The spicy cajun dog. Or hot link. Whatever it’s called. It’s amazing.

19 thoughts on “The Springs trip

  1. Great information, Brad. But only one question really comes to mind after reading:

    WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN A BAR IN EAST ST. LOUIS?!?!?!

  2. Brad ~ Thanks for these “destination” posts! I love to travel so I really enjoy these. It gives us big fans who don’t travel to the further road games a chance to experience what other arenas, etc. are like. Keep up the great work!

  3. This post makes me miss “the springs” quite a bit as I lived there during my college days and my graduation was in World Arena.

    One reason I think the student section is so lacking is the distance from the arena to the campus. They’re miles apart and CC students aren’t allowed to have cars until their Sophomore or Junior year(unless that’s changed).

    I’d be interested to know which bars you went to that were shady as I definitely remember a few! Very interesting read!

  4. I enjoy these roadtrip reads as well, esp. since I don’t get anywhere, except for home of course. If you ever do stay in downtown Denver, remember Biker Jim hotdogs at 16th & Arapahoe.

  5. Brad,

    I grew up in Denver and spent quite a bit of time in the Springs. I had to laugh when you said it had a Fargo vibe. We need to get you out more often.

    The Springs is a great place to live – if you can afford it. As you said the climate is great and there is plenty to do. It is a military-centric town. You have the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, NORAD, Fort Carson, and Space Command. Not to mention several dozen defense contractors.

    It is sad there are more UND fans than CC fans at the games. I guess not everyone has their priorities squared.

  6. As always Brad, nice job on the weekend recap and the photos. I saw you a few times at the rink… I was one of the few thousand wearing Sioux gear :-)

    To add to the pet peeve of the rink: purple seats and they are made for children. Two normal adults have a hard time sitting shoulder to shoulder and being comfortable. Fortunately there were lots of seats open so we moved down in our aisle to afford more space.

    The downtown scene is getting a little sketchy because of the military presence. There tends to be way more males at the bars and there tends to be a lot of testosterone floating around.

    Other than that, Colorado Springs is a great trip area. Lots to do and you should definitely hit up Pikes Peak next time. For an even better experience, drive to the top… and even better take the charter bus to the top! There is a fantastic home made ice cream shop downtown. Their flavors will blow your mind. It’s called “Josh and John’s.” Give it a try!

    See you in Denver in February!

  7. Great blog, I love reading these and they make me wish I was younger again so I could make some of these trips!

    I also love how you say “crush” and “dominate” regarding food. EPIC!

  8. What we need now is for the NCHC to add both Arizona and Arizona State (both very good Division I Club Hockey programs, as was Penn State before this year) into the league so you have some really warm weather destinations to report on!

  9. Did you actually go to The Ritz and get patted down on Saturday night, or were you retelling our pat-down experience from after Friday night’s game? For prospective visitors – it’s a perfectly acceptable place to go after a Sioux game…the stabbings only occur on Thursdays.

  10. As a Sioux alumni living in the Denver area my wife and I make this trip every year the Sioux play in the Springs. She is from Denver and cannot believe the passion of the Sioux fans, they tailgate in the hotel lots before games, they chant “Lets go Sioux” in the bars, and UND just takes over the arena with cheers, it can’t compare to the Ralph but its the best we can get down here, 2nd only to the DU games that is ALOT more intense, you have to be there.

  11. Just had to take another look at the C Spgs travelogue — it’s great! Other suggestions to you for future visits would be the Vietnamese restaurant downtown or Saigon Spgs on N Academy, though I understand that may not be your type of cuisine… Also, about an hour west on hwy 24 is spectacular Elevenmile Canyon of the S Platte River (near town of Lake George) and some gorgeous Ponderosa Pine forests sprinkled all along hwy 24. Yeah, so fun to be at both of those games and glad I had more tix (all the family) for the Saturday excitement! Now looking forward to Denver in February. Long, long ago my dad (a UND alum) would take me to the games in Denver when the Sioux came to town. I loved rooting for the visiting team then, and funny thing, after a long hiatus, I re-discovered what a wonderful thing it is to be a UND fan living in CO and have gotten my daughter on board as well. We finally both have our Sioux jerseys too :-) We even made our pilgrimage to GF back in August and did the tour at the Ralph! Hooray for staying connected with our past AND having so much fun in the present day with Sioux hockey! OK, enough reminiscing… Thanks again for the great multifaceted coverage!

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