The following article appeared in the Massachusetts State Sports Guide. Download the full guide below.
While much of the country spends the winter months huddled under blankets and sipping hot cocoa, Massachusetts residents welcome the chill while finding numerous ways to break a sweat.
With top-notch facilities offering cold-weather sporting opportunities, Massachusetts denizens have a myriad of choices to embrace winter sports, either as a competitor or a fan. Here are a few facilities across the Bay State that help keep its inhabitants active when the temperatures plummet.
DCU Center (Worcester)
The DCU Center, an indoor arena in downtown Worcester, is home to the Worcester Railers of the East Coast Hockey League and the Massachusetts Pirates of the National Arena League. The 15,000-seat venue has undergone extensive renovations which have resulted in additional bathrooms, updated flooring and a new rink infrastructure. The Railers are an affiliate of the New York Islanders and compete from October until April.
Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center (Worcester)
This $18 million, 38,000-square-foot facility is home to more than a dozen teams, ranging from professional hockey to youth programs, and is also the practice facility for the Worcester Railers. The center contains three ice rinks, a pro shop and offers public skating seven days per week where visitors can enjoy freestyle, public, stick and puck skating.
Mass Mutual Center (Springfield)
A 100,000-square-foot multi-purpose venue and convention center in downtown Springfield, the Mass Mutual Center contains an 8,000-seat arena and houses the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League. The center has hosted a slew of quality events and 2019 should be no different as the AHL’s All-Star Classic is slated to take place there. The classic will include the AHL All-Star skills competition, a Hall of Fame induction, awards ceremony and an All-Star game.
Nashoba Valley Ski Area and Snowtubing Park (Westford)
The Nashoba Valley Ski Area first opened in 1964, and since then has grown into a full-service ski area offering lessons, rentals, skiing, and snowboarding on its 17 trails filled with various terrain. Nashoba Valley’s snowtubing park, which opened in 2001, is New England’s largest snowboarding facility with four lifts, more than 600 snow tubes and 16 lanes.
National Dekhockey Center (Winchendon)
This complex features two outdoor rinks with professionally installed lighting, a Mylec playing surface and a pro shop. It hosts leagues for children of all ages (4 and up), enabling them to compete in regular season games and playoffs. Dekhockey is commonly known as street hockey, a variation of ice hockey where the game is played outdoors on foot or with inline or roller skates.
New England Sports Center (Marlborough)
Located on 22.3 acres, the two-story, 306,000-square-foot New England Sports Center is the largest ice skating arena in the country. The complex contains eight full-sized skating rinks, 76 locker rooms, a hockey pro shop, ice skate rentals, function rooms, a full-service restaurant and a snack bar. The center is the host site of the Skating Club of Boston, the Minuteman Flames of the Minor Hockey Association, the Boston Junior Bruins, an American junior ice hockey organization, Becker College hockey teams and the Haydenettes, a senior level synchronized skating team representing the Hayden Figure Skating Club.
The complex hosts the North American Fall Championships, the Massachusetts state hockey championships, the NHL Cup and the NHL Alumni Tournament. It has also served as a practice rink for Olympic medal winners Ilia Kulik (Russian figure skater), Evgeny Platov (Russian ice dancer) and Pasha Grishuk (Russian ice dancer).
“We’re fortunate to have the New England Sports Center in our backyard,” said Susan Nicholl, executive director of the MetroWest Visitors Bureau. “It can accommodate the largest tournaments and it has a lot around it that is attractive to people booking tournaments. Marlborough has 11 brand hotels so it’s easy for families to stay in the city and it’s at the crossroads of a lot of interstates. It’s really an incredible location with the most outstanding facility.”
Olympia Ice Center (West Springfield)
This 2,200-seat hockey rink in West Springfield attracts more than 600,000 people from various age groups on an annual basis. The complex contains three NHL-sized arenas and more than 115 teams, including the Springfield Falcons of the AHL, the Springfield Pics of the United States Premier Hockey League, Holy Name and WTM youth hockey, call the center home. The venue also houses local college hockey teams including Western New England University, and hosts several high school teams who play more than 100 games each season at the complex.
Tsongas Center (Lowell)
A multi-purpose facility owned by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the Tsongas Center opened in 1998 and is home to the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks ice hockey team of the Hockey East Association. The center seats approximately 6,000 for hockey and also hosts skating competitions. UMass Lowell has spent more than $5 million to renovate the arena, installing LED ribbon boards, a new high-definition video scoreboard, and a new sound system.
Wachusett Mountain (Princeton)
With 25 trails, eight ski lifts, and a 2006-foot summit, Wachusett Mountain is one of the region’s top mountain resorts. The facility has 100 percent snow making capacity and offers night skiing on most of its trails. The base lodge has recently been expanded and is now nearly 50,000 square feet and contains public areas, a restaurant, a cafeteria, and private suites available for daily rental.