Vancouver Ice Hockey
August 9, 2019 10:17 PM   Subscribe

We're going to be in Vancouver, BC from 3rd October to 16th October and would like to see an ice hockey game.

Neither of us follow ice hockey and don't have a preference for what teams we see play. How do we go about buying tickets to a game? What sort of prices should we expect?
posted by poxandplague to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (6 answers total)
The NHL (National Hockey League) team in Vancouver is the Canucks. You can see their fall 2019 schedule here—the green days are home games so they’ll be playing in Vancouver those days. The tickets aren’t on sale yet, but you can sign up here to be on the presale list so you can get access before the general public. These tickets aren’t cheap, but the cost varies depending on things like where you sit. Going to a Canucks game will probably cost a few hundred dollars for the two of you, though.

There are also non-national league games you could attend. Unfortunately, during your time period, there aren’t any home games for the Western Hockey League team, the Vancouver Giants. However, the Vancouver-area BC Hockey League (BCHL) teams will have some games while you’re there, and the tickets for these will be MUCH less than for an NHL game—$15 for adults, less for seniors and kids. Check this schedule for games in the South Surrey Arena or the George Preston Arena (Langley) during your visit. Langley and Surrey are easily accessible by car from Vancouver (if you don’t mind driving in sometimes heavy traffic), and accessible by public transit (though it can be a long journey). You can buy tickets for BCHL games at the box office (usually opens an hour before the game) or phone the arena ahead of time to book tickets.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:17 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Vancouver Major Junior (under 20 development teams) team is away during your period. The Canucks are playing LA on the 9th, Philadelphia on the 12th and Detroit on the 15th. Stubhub has tickets currently starting at US$44 each for the first two games and US$23 against Detroit for the corner nose bleeds. If you can afford it you get a much better view in the lower seats on the sides. The lower section starts at about US$100 and goes up over US$300.

You can buy tickets direct from the Canucks but they want you to create an account and sign up for a waiting list.
posted by Mitheral at 11:20 PM on August 9, 2019

A couple of further points:
The three teams the Canucks are playing (LA Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings) are all reasonably interchangeable in terms of all being not-very-good teams (Vancouver is a middle-of-the-pack team) with no strong rivalries. Of the three, I'd pick LA because they have a core of aging stars, who aren't as good as they once were but are still relatively big names (Doughty/Quick/Kopitar/Kovalchuk), and there's at least a slight regional rivalry thing with both teams being on the Pacific. But it would be a very marginal preference; seat price/availability and schedule would win out over any one team.

An NHL game has a much higher "production value" versus other lower tiers; the big screen Jumbotron, music during breaks in play, fancy food and drink available, etc. and is also a much higher quality of game. The Major Junior team would have been a good compromise between cost and quality; think of a soccer team's youth academy. The BCHL is a much lower quality in terms of both play and fan experience; it's under 20 players who aren't good enough for the Major Junior team. An NHL game has 18,000 fans attendance, a BCHL game has 600 to 700 fans.

Another set of teams that are lower quality (but probably around par with the BCHL) are the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. They play on the UBC campus, which is also a distance from downtown Vancouver, but is pretty easily accessible from SkyTrain via the 99-B bus, which is a very good service. (You might also be thinking of going to the UBC campus for the Anthropology Museum, which is excellent and I highly recommend; it has a great collection of totem poles amongst many other things.) As it turns out, the men's team isn't playing at home in your time frame, but the women have two games against the U. of Calgary Dinos, the evening of the 11th and afternoon on the 12th. Tickets are 10 bucks. You may have heard of American college sports and the rabid fandoms; Canadian university sports are the exact opposite of this. The UBC women's hockey team games against Calgary last year drew 150 people. So it's a very pure experience - just people playing hockey, very little else.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:49 AM on August 10, 2019

Homeboy Trouble raises good points about the “production quality” differences between NHL and other smaller league games. I’ve been to NHL, Major Junior League, and BCHL type games, and the NHL games are the most exciting. It’s like the difference between a major professional live theatre production, a small scale professional theatre production, and a well done community theatre production. The “wow” factor will be different but so will the price, and the good community theatre can still give you an entertaining experience if you understand its limitations.

I had forgotten about the UBC Thunderbirds. Their games will be easier to access than the BCHL ones in Langley or Surrey if you are staying in Vancouver and need to use public transit. Plus as HT says, the UBC Campus is lovely and worth checking out—and do stop at the Museum of Anthropology while there; it’s a world class museum and has excellent information about First Nations in the area.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:21 AM on August 10, 2019

For my money, a college level game is always the right choice. The players are young and passionate and willing to take chances. The fans are probably family members or classmates.

If you want hockey, I would not go to a game that cost more than 20 dollars. If you want a show, then the NHL is of course your best choice. You could always try both and see for yourself.
posted by Acari at 1:31 PM on August 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone. I got on the presale list and purchased tickets today for the only date that ended up working for us.
posted by poxandplague at 3:37 PM on September 12, 2019

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