Given the region’s notoriously chilly climate, it should come as no surprise that Toronto is a city made for ice hockey. On particularly chilly winter days, amateur skaters can be spotted gliding across the frozen-over edges of Lake Ontario. And professional hockey? Let’s just say that it’s a hugely popular local pastime.
Toronto is home to the Maple Leafs, a team whose history dates back to 1917. Though they’re currently suffering from a victory drought (keep the volume down on this conversation when visiting Leafs Nation!), the team is the most valuable in the National Hockey League, and star players like James Van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel (both recently nominated for the American Olympic hockey team) have fans screaming from the sidelines.
For a hockey lover visiting during the season, snagging tickets to a game is the ultimate score, particularly given that they can be notoriously difficult to get hold of. Do what you can to book well in advance and be prepared to part with a hefty chunk of change. It’ll be worth it, though: the Air Canada Centre, the team’s home stadium, has an unbeatable atmosphere given the team’s loyal fans. If you can’t get tickets in time, don’t despair: the Toronto Marlies, an American Hockey League team, are also exciting to watch.
After enjoying a rink-side perspective on the game, it’s time to strap on those skates and take your own turn around the ice. Toronto is home to a number of top hockey schools that provide lessons aimed at novices. While the Toronto Maple Leafs run their own summer Hockey School aimed at children, adults can also improve their technique at a number of different courses. Future Stars Arena is one good option for out-of-towners as it offers one-day classes, available for all different levels. Visitors can also sign up for private sessions with former pro players if they’re looking to brush up on their skills.
No hockey lover’s trip to Toronto would be complete without a stop at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Home to the glittering Stanley Cup, the museum is packed with interactive exhibits, including displays that allow visitors to both take shots at goal, and try their hand at goalie for the day.
The venue is also packed with historic memorabilia, including older versions of the Stanley Cup, player portraits, uniforms, equipment, and other artefacts.
For those planning a wintertime trip, the best way to wind down before leaving town is to take a turn around one of the city’s 50+ outdoor ice rinks. Bundle up and glide off: you’ll feel like a native Torontonian in no time.
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Are you an Ice Hockey fan? Have you attended a game in Toronto? Let us know below.
Written by Claire Bullen