Those who go on college hockey road trips know that there’s a lot more that goes into it than hockey games. The trips are an experience that encompasses all you do that weekend. Most fans usually try to do some sightseeing, some eating and some drinking while on the road.
That brings us to my top picks from the 2014-15 season and the third annual all-dining team, which happens to coincide with the announcement that Nebraska Omaha will have a taco cannon at home games in the new rink.
First team (restaurants)
Legal Harborside, Boston: We went there our first night at the Frozen Four. The baked scrod was so amazing that we went back the next night for some more. It’s located right on the water with a great view, which I’m sure looks nicer when it’s not dark out.
Pepperjax, Omaha: Yeah, I missed out on my traditional Omaha meal at Upstream Brewing Company for this, but I wasn’t disappointed. My Philly rivaled those that I ate at the Frozen Four last year.
Sam’s No. 3, Denver: I don’t eat breakfast too often, but if Grand Forks had a Sam’s, that could change. All-American diner type of plays with tremendous breakfast food.
Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis: They are famous for their Bloody Marys, but we had a fairly large group there and none of us tried them. We all had different meals and everyone spoke glowingly about their lunches. We’ll be back.
Spicy cajun dog vendor, Colorado Springs: Yeah, he’s still there. Downtown on Tejon Street. Right across the street from the CSprings Gazette. If I worked there, it would be game over.
Second team (pizza places)
Ian’s, Madison: Amazing pizza by the slice. It has all sorts of crazy options. The Mac and Cheese is their classic, but I had the chicken quesadilla pizza and will definitely be doing that again.
Will’s Pizza, Oxford: It’s a regular pizza joint that turns into pizza-by-the-slice late at night. Have never had a bad experience there.
Campus Pizza, Minneapolis: I learned it was closing its doors during the regionals sadly. One of my favorite all-time pizza places. Great food, great people. Will miss this place a lot.
Erbelli’s, Kalamazoo: One of those places where the pizza is terrific as it’s going down, but you feel horribly uncomfortable about 10 minutes after you are done. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to eat good pizza.
Deek’s Pizza, Grand Forks: No explanation necessary.
Third team (bars)
Bukowski, Boston: Matt Schill found this hole-in-the-wall type joint near the Back Bay neighborhood in Boston. Ended up being a great find.
Burdick’s, Kalamazoo: Ended up here every night of the trip. I had the chicken nachos four times. We could never decide whether it was actually chicken on the nachos, but when it tastes that good, it doesn’t matter.
Howie’s, St. Cloud: Needed to find a place to watch the Miami Hurricanes in the afternoon. The people there were kind enough to hook me up. That mean’s you’re making the team.
The Ritz, Colorado Springs: Our traditional stop in downtown Colorado Springs. I’m not sure if the bar is great or if it’s great because it’s located 2 blocks from the spicy cajun dog vendor.
Doyle’s, Boston: First place to sell Sam Adams beer. Cool Jamaica Plain neighborhood bar with great food. Four movies have been filmed there, including 21.
Fourth team (top sights)
Royal Gorge Bridge, outside Colorado Springs: It’s only about an hour drive out of the Springs and I’m glad I did it. Incredible views from the suspension bridge. If you haven’t done it, I highly recommend.
Fenway Park, Boston: If you are a baseball fan, you know how surreal it is to see the park where Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb once played.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs: If you get a nice day, it’s a fun place to roam. Again, fun sights and rock formations all around you.
Creighton-Georgetown basketball: No, I didn’t see Doug McDermott. Yes, I did see Creighton miss 22 straight shots and go 18 minutes without a field goal. But Creighton hoops is the big thing in town there, and I still had fun checking out the game.
Random gas station, Sioux Falls: When you’ve been on a bus in a snowstorm for eight hours with nothing to eat, walking into this place was one beautiful sight.
MVP: Ian’s Pizza. When you need late-night food and this is located just blocks from my hotel (and all the bars), it’s a life savor.
Rookie of the year: Legal Harborside. Nobody had a bad meal there.
Coach of the year: Chris Lee, Omaha. He’s the one who steered us to Pepperjax, and he also dropped several other places that I could have gone had I not decided to jump on the overnight bus back to Grand Forks after Saturday’s game. Included in the list was a Bar Rescue bar where Jon Taffer once dropped a classic “Shut it down!”
Inaugural Hall of Fame inductee
Some of these spots pop up on the list every year, so I’m going to start inducting places into the Hall of Fame. The first entry is a place I stop every time I’m in Denver. Congrats, Cherry Cricket, you are the first restaurant to enter the Hall of Fame.