Living in Michigan, I have been consumed by hockey my whole life. I played hockey growing up and still today as 23 year-old senior B+ beer leaguer. As a proclaimed rink rat I can justify watching any type of game if it's a 50 and over league or Squirt B you can still see the passion run deep in these players. Going to rinks and sitting on a cold metal bleacher is very different than the friendly confines of Joe Louis arena but to me its all the same. So as the lockout looks like it is a go for a while, here are a few different ways you can get your hockey fix.
No NHL? How about another league.
AHL, ECHL, UHL. Oh My!
While the NHL is on strike, there are many leagues that will still be playing hockey. The AHL, the main feeder to the NHL will have some great young talent on display. With teams in smaller towns than the NHL, the more homely and smaller seating environment lets you see a game up close and for a great price.
NCAA - The College Try
What about a battle at Yost or Munn to do you in? Michigan offers some great hockey schools all over the state. Go to a game on the school's campus to get the whole college feel instead of waiting for College hockey at the Joe. This is a great opportunity to get kids involved in a college atmosphere without ever bringing up a word about going to class.
Major Junior -Road Trip!
If you don't live in a state boarding Canada you probably have never seen an OHL,WHL,or QMJHL game before. This is your time, Major Junior games are breeding grounds for top tier prospects for the NHL. See the next Sid Crosby in action for a very cheap price while still having the opportunity to see a very good hockey game.
Junior A,B,C - The Alphabet leagues
While the competition may be lower than Major Junior, you can still see some great action. The USA national development program has teams both in the USHL and NAHL. These leagues are great feeder leagues for the NCAA. As the lower the league goes you may even be able to find a hidden gem player just waiting to get his shot at the next level.
Midget Major AAA / Midget Minor AAA - The first step to the show
Don Cherry always says that he likes to watch the Midget Minor level the best. Well you are in luck teams like Honeybaked,Little Caesars, and Shattuck St. Mary's have been hockey royalty for ages the ages between 15-18 years-old. Watching a tournament game is a great experience and the best part is that it's free. Find a local AAA game and see which budding hotshot is going to the next level. Find where the National Championship tournament is held and make a road-trip in April.
Only can watch games on TV?
Stream Games on your computer or device like Roku
Many junior leagues and Europe leagues stream their games online for free. Watching long replays on YouTube from the KHL is a great way for you to get your fix while the lockout rolls on.
If participating is your style
Check out to see where pond hockey tournaments are held and register a team with a couple of buddies to supplement the winter classic fix.