This past weekend I concluded my planned arena visits for the season.
I saw the Capitals vs New York Islanders at NYCB Live on March 1 and then stuck around to see the Caps play the New York Rangers on March 3.
Earlier in the season, I was also able to see the Capitals play the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in October (but please forgive me, I wiped that horrendous game out of my memory and forgot to write my review).
Let’s discuss why you should go see some hockey in New York.
Game attended? March 1, 2019 vs. Washington
Where is the arena? Uniondale, NY. This arena was an adventure to get to. I chose to go to a game at the Coliseum over Brooklyn due to the history, but the commute to the game was longer. To get there from Manhattan, we took the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Westbury and then took an Uber to the arena. Since the train out to Westbury was during rush hour, the round trip commute cost $24 per ticket. The ride was close to 45 minutes with an additional 10 minute Uber ride. Luckily there are plenty of train times and getting back to the city afterwards was no issue.
Why is it worth visiting? Attending a game at NYCB Live was definitely an experience.
The fans were intense and very into the hockey game, which was a plus. Unfortunately, their intensity turned into yelling hateful things at Caps players and getting into arguments with visiting team’s fans in the stands. I sat in silence most of the game until the end because I worried what would happen if I openly rooted for the Capitals. That atmosphere is uncomfortable and unnecessary.
Aside from the commute and the fans, I had a good time at the game. The ushers were gracious in letting fans down by the glass during warm-ups and the representation of Caps fans was impressive. I was able to meet up with a bunch of people from the NYC Caps Crew, who always make you feel welcome as a visiting fan.
I didn’t see any 91 Tavares jerseys until I was waiting for an Uber at the end of the game. This fan put a piece of tape over the nameplate and wrote “Thanks for nothing.” A day after Tavares’ first game back in New York, I was expecting to see a few more people rocking their revised jerseys, but I guess they were all put back in the closet… or burned!
The best part aside from the Islanders’ own goal and Caps win was meeting Radar! Radar is the Islanders puppy who, in four week, will go on and become a seeing-eye dog through the Guide Dog Foundation. Radar was greeting fans in the concourse during intermission and didn’t hold back on any slobbery kisses.
Cons of the arena? The commute from the city was a big number one. The arena is the third smallest in the NHL, with only Barclays Center (the Islanders’ second home) and MTS Centre smaller. Due to its size, overcrowding is an issue. With only one concourse, lines to food, drinks, and even the bathrooms were long during entire intermissions.
The arena doesn’t have a team store, but rather a handful of pop-up booths scattered through the concourse similar to those found at Capital One Arena. On my visits, I have been collecting a shot glass from every arena and I couldn’t find one.
Where should I eat before? We didn’t spend any time in Uniondale and I’m unsure of anything in the area. After our arrival back to the city, we grabbed ramen from Wagamama. Perfect for the cold, snowy weather.
Do they sell cotton candy? Yes!! And it was nearly sold out by the time I purchased mine.
Game attended? March 3, 2019 vs. Washington
Where is the arena? Smackdown in the middle of Manhattan. We stayed at the Moxy Chelsea, which was a quick five-minute walk away from MSG.
Why is it worth visiting? Labeled as the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, MSG has a long history that includes sporting events, concerts, and other events. That history is evident with the number of Rangers’ and Knicks’ banners in the rafters and the attendance even when the team is rebuilding.
The arena was packed for this Sunday matinee and I heard many comments from Rangers fans about the amount of Capitals fans in attendance. Watching warmups at MSG is a little tricky because a majority of the seats don’t directly backup to the ice. We went as low as we could on the side, but still had a good view of everything that was happening.
We had a great view from our seat, and while they had multiple team stores throughout the arena, I couldn’t find a classic shot glass for sale. They did have a large variety of gear, including many Adidas pieces I have never seen for sale in DC.
Cons of the arena? Ticket prices. This is one of the arenas I was dreading going to due to the price of the tickets. Even during a Rangers rebuild, I found myself paying more than I have paid at any other arena.
The setup of the venue entrance was also a bit wonky. We entered through the 7th Avenue doors and found ourselves in a fake-concourse after going through security. There we had to wait for the doors to open. The website said doors opened 90-minutes before puck drop, but it ended up being 60-minutes. After the doors finally opened, we were guided down a long hallway. With the number of people already inside and other entrance doors throughout the length of the hallway, it got crowded fast.
Where should I eat before? Because this was a 12:30 game, we didn’t eat anywhere before. After the game, we grabbed dinner at the nearby Eataly.
Do they sell cotton candy? Yes, and it’s huge!
Game attended? October 11, 2018 vs. Washington (I slacked writing this review because I just wanted to forget this game happened.)
Where is the arena? Newark, New Jersey. I hitched a ride with some friends, but the arena is directly across the street from the Newark Amtrak station, so an easy journey from the District if you want to take the trip!
Why is it worth visiting? This arena was nice. Parking was easy and the drive was easy (says someone who didn’t drive – shout out to Puck ‘Er Up Podcast‘s Julie!)
We went down to the glass for warmups before going to our seats. A confusing part of the seating chart here is the upper level is the 100’s and the lower level is sections 1-20. Regardless, there isn’t a bad view anywhere and the Jumbotron is MASSIVE. It was officially named the largest in the world in 2017 and it weighs a whopping 88,401 pounds.
A unique feature of the arena was the jersey wall, featuring jerseys of most of the local high school hockey teams. (Shout out to the Jersey City Capitals!)
That is really all the good things I can say about this game. The Capitals lost 6-0. With it being the Devils home opener and second game of the season, Devils fans were on a high. Their season has drastically turned by now, so there is some humor looking back at this game. At the time though, all I could think about was how the Capitals were Stanley Cup Champions.
Cons of the arena? It’s in Newark.
Where should I eat before? A whole bunch of us grabbed dinner at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. It was good and right across a concourse from the arena
Do they sell cotton candy? Yes, and it’s disgusting. Really, really bad and it takes a lot for me to say cotton candy is bad. I threw mine away after just a few bites. -10/10 really do not recommend.
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