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Where to Sit For a Hockey Game - A Comprehensive Guide

Published Sep 26, 2015 / by Steve Calhoun

If you've ever second guessed yourself prior to purchasing tickets, don't worry, you're not alone. Here are some tips and recommendations which can help you find great seats when looking to attend your next game.

Fans regularly reach out to us wondering where the best places to sit are for a hockey game - a question which we love helping people with. And while our responses are almost always customized to the specific arena of interest, there are some common themes that can apply across most NHL venues. Considering that I've watched a significant amount of hockey in my years, I wanted to put together this post to help fans who find themselves asking the age old question "Where's the best place to sit for a hockey game"

Sitting Behind the Net at the United Center
How is the view from behind the net? Which corners are best for a game? Which rows offer the better views? As hockey fans, these are just some of the questions we find ourselves asking when looking for tickets

Not all hockey arenas were built from the same blueprint, but you will often find similar experiences across all venues driven by the different lines of sight, seating elevations, and positioning relative to the nets and benches. You will undoubtedly always find unique aspects to every arena, so while the recommendations below can help with finding great seats across MOST venues, they don't serve as the end all be all to every individual venue. We're always happy to provide customized recommendations, so feel free to send us your inquiry directly and we'll write you back as soon as possible.

We also recommend searching for your event and relying on our SeatScoreā„¢ algorithm. We have star ratings available for over 97% of our available NHL tickets which allows you to easily compare seats and find the best experience within your budget.

Best Seats For Following the Action: Top of the Lower Level near Center Ice

Cost: $$$$ (expensive)

Best For: Die hard fans who don't want to miss any of the action

Hockey is one of the fastest paced professional sports around, if not the fastest of all. Following the game from goal to goal can be a challenge, especially when you consider the fact that you're trying to stay dialed in to a small rubber puck that is just 1 inch high and 3 inches in diameter. Sitting at center ice not only provides the traditional views that many are accustomed to from TV broadcasts, but also keeps you in the middle of everything and you won't be left with one side of the ice where the view is just too far to follow the location of the puck.

Seats closer to the ice will have a more exciting feel near Center Ice, but for following the action I much prefer sitting near the top of the lower seating level where there is excellent elevation to see above the boards, less head turning from net to net, and you'll usually be close the the entry tunnels near the top of the sections on the lower tier.

Finding Optimal Seating Height on the Lower Level
While the view from Row 7 looks more impressive, you can notice how much more of the ice is in the straight away line of sight in Row 19. The safety glass and supports also extend much higher in the field of vision when sitting lower (almost encompassing half the ice surface).

Most Exciting Place to Be: On the Glass!

Cost: $$$$$ (expensive)

Best For: Limitless Budgets, Fans Looking for a Truly Unique Experience

Even for the new hockey fan, it probably comes as no surprise that seats against the glass are the home to some of the most exciting experiences one could have at a hockey game. You can be just a pane of plexiglass away from your favorite players during board battles, and while many arenas are now discouraging it, its a ton of fun to bang on the glass to show your support. As an added bonus - the boards usually leave you with a handy shelf right in front of your seat for holding your food and beverage!

Seats against the glass will also often come with premium amenities, which at many NHL arenas can include in-seat wait service and club lounge access. I've sat on the glass directly behind the team bench before, and must say it was one of the more thrilling experiences I've ever had at a sporting event. But be aware, the views of the ice are far less than ideal from so close to the bench, and if you're anything like me you'll spend most your time trying to listen in on the player conversations happening right in front.

Glass seats are something which I strongly believe every true hockey fan should experience at least once. But with ticket prices being the most expensive of any option and often difficult views of the majority of the ice surface (see video above), I probably wont find myself back there all too often. However if you are in the market for seats against the glass, I recommend opting for the corners where you'll have better views and less head turning throughout the game.

Best Experience with a Flexible Budget: Premium Club Seating

Cost: $$$$ (expensive)

Best For: Amazing Views and Fans Looking for the Most Comfortable Atmosphere

Many NHL arenas are setup with a premium Club level on the second seating tier, which is not only where you can find some of the best seating height for following all the action on the ice, but will also come with premium club amenities. While not all arenas will feature premium seating on the second tier (some have premium options at the top of the lower tier, or mixed in among select lower level sections), you will still consistently find some of the best viewing angles from being a bit higher up and set further back from the ice. Having that perfect combination of height and proximity lets you follow more of the game from a natural seating position (less head turning) and will also let you see more of the ice surface without limitation from the boards and glass.

Amazing Views Near the Front of the Second Seating Tier
I would have preferred to be a row or two higher to not have the safety glass in my line of sight, but thats just being greedy. These seats were tough to beat near the front of the second seating tier Club Level, and we also were treated to in-seat wait service.

One of the top benefits which I always look for in a ticket is the in-seat food and beverage service. For a sports fan, there's no worse feeling than hearing the crowd erupt while you're waiting in line to get that highly anticipated batch of nachos or grabbing the next round of beers. With more and more venues offering in-seat wait service within the Club seats, you won't have to worry about choosing a quick trip to the concessions in the middle of the period over waiting until intermission when the lines get brutal.

For the venues which have their premium club seating on a dedicated second tier (about half of the NHL), these sections will almost always have the fewest rows of any, allowing for quick and easy trips to and from the restrooms. When I take advantage of the in-seat wait service and have multiple beverages delivered to me, there's usually at least one trip to the restrooms in my future and its a great feeling knowning I can get to the concourse and back to my seat in a fraction of the time it takes in the larger sections.

Smaller Seating Sections on the Dedicated Club Level
The United Center features just 8 rows of seating in each section on the dedicated club level, translating into fewer fans to battle lines against on the dedicated concourse and closer access to the entry tunnels

Great Places to Find Good Value: Upper Tier Corners and Behind the Net

Cost: $ (affordable)

Best For: Tighter Budgets, Experienced Fans

Not unlike most other sports, the most affordable tickets for a hockey game will almost always be found in the highest and furthest seating tiers. While I'd love to say you can find a great deal near center ice on the upper tier, this is often not the case as the center ice views are always in high demand no matter which seating tier you're searching. But I can still find good value in the corner and behind the net sections as long as I keep a few things in mind.

Firstly, I always pay close mind to the end of the ice where my team is shooting twice as it gives me a 66% chance of being closer to my team scoring a goal, vs. the 33% probability I'll find at the end where my team defends twice. Personally I prefer the corner sections over those behind the net as they provide a unique angle where you can appreciate the goal to goal rushes, as well as the intricate cross ice passing plays. When choosing seats in the corner, I also prefer to search in the sections which face the team benches so I can have a better line of sight to the players and appreciate the on the fly line changes.

In Seat View from Section 419 at Madison Square Garden
Section 419 at Madison Square Garden provides good views of the entire ice, keeps you close the net where the Rangers shoot twice, and also has viewing angles to the front of the team benches.

Last but certainly not least, row selection plays a huge role in finding a good value seat on the upper tier. Seats in the front row keep you close with no one else right in front, but the safety railings often block the view when sitting back in your seat, and I'm left leaning forward most of the game to neutralize the distraction. I'm also a taller guy at 6', and the front row seats consistently seem to have much less legroom than the others. Instead, I look for seats in the 3rd to 5th rows where I'm usually close to the entry tunnels for quick trips to the concourse, and have clear lines of sight down to the ice.

Entry Tunnels on the Upper Seating Tier
Fans in the back rows of are left with a longer, more intimidating walk down the often steeper aisles of the upper seating tier

Other Tips for Making the Most of Your Experience

Newcomers vs. Seasoned Fans

How well you know the game can make an impact on the experience

I've watched a lot of hockey in my day, and one area where I enjoy sitting is behind the nets. I find it to be a unique view where I can appreciate players filling in the passing lanes as a play develops, speedy line changes on the fly, or someone sprinting out of the penalty box after serving their time. But for my now wife (recently married two weeks ago) who is newer to the game of hockey, the views are easier and more enjoyable from center ice. We went to our first game together on the upper seating level near mid ice and she had a blast. The next season we were given amazing tickets 8 rows from the ice near the goal line, but she actually preferred being up higher near the center of the arena where she could see both goals more easily and it was a familiar view from what she was used to seeing when watching on our TV.

Upper Level Center Seats are Great For New Fans
Here's the view from the seats where my wife prefers to sit - easy to see both nets and follow the action on the ice rather than watching the videoboard at times.

Shoot Twice

Play the percentages for a better view of your team lighting the lamp

I love watching my team's D pairings separating players from the puck or having a close up view of my goalie standing on his head to make a miraculous save, but its hard to beat the excitement of being close by when my guys put the biscuit in the basket. I always carefully review the seating chart to ensure I'm on the side where my team attacks during the 1st and 3rd period (we also have a Shoot Twice option on our Interactive Seating Charts which quickly filters the listings when searching for tickets).

Facing the Benches

Views of the names and numbers or faces and reactions? An often overlooked easy choice

Unless I'm in the first few rows behind my team's bench, I prefer sitting where I have a head on view of players and coaches to watch their reactions and any chirping that might be going on between the benches.

Get In, Get Out, Quickly!

Staying near the entry tunnels is a big bonus

I commented on this earlier, but have to emphasize again that the last place you want to be when the arena goes crazy is anywhere other than your seat. Sure you could always wait for an intermission to make a trip to the restrooms or concessions, but you'll then be left to face the most absurd lines which can sometimes take even longer than the intermission time!

So what's the trick for avoiding lines and not missing too much of the game when you have to leave your seat? Make sure your seats are no more than a 5 row walk from the section entry tunnel, and then wait for that next TV timeout and make your move to the concourse (you can identify a TV timeout when the red light turns on above the time keepers box - which usually sits between the penalty boxes). The ultimate find is a seat on the aisle within 2 rows of the entry, something which I personally search for regulary when looking for tickets.

The Closer The Better?

Depending on what you're hoping for from your experience, closer seats are not always the best seats

Sitting close to the ice doesn't always make for better seats at a hockey game. Sure you'll have more excitement at times when the puck is near your section, but with the boards and safety glass creating some minor viewing obstructions and distortion, it can make you feel disconnected from the game. Seats on the upper tiers are always noticeably further from the action, but will offer clearer lines of sight down to the ice and as an additional bonus will also help you save a few bucks when it comes to ticket prices.

Outdoor Hockey

Winter Classics and Stadium Series Games

I haven't had the opportunity to attend an outdoor game myself, but have to believe it would be an outing which I would never forget. But beware, we've heard from many fans who say the views can be very difficult, especially from the lower levels of the baseball and football stadiums where the games are typically held. So be sure to stick to the higher seats for the better overall views and cheaper price tags.

Levis Stadium Setup for Hockey
Baseball and Football stadiums weren't built with hockey in mind, so it will usually be tough to find a good view. Avoid the lower seating tiers where views are extremely difficult, and just enjoy the one of a kind event!

Notable Seating Areas Around the NHL

Madison Square Garden - Front Row in the 200 Level: Excellent viewing angles from the front of the 200 level sections, and an HDTV monitor right at your feet!

Seats Between the Benches: A number of NHL teams offer seating between the team benches, including the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, and Columbus Blue Jackets. Views are bound to be difficult, tickets impossible to find, and prices through the roof, but how can you beat the excitement of being right at center ice, on the glass, and between the teams?!

PNC Arena - Club Ledge: Second tier viewing angles, in-seat wait service, TVs between each pair of seats, personal bar top tables, meal and beverage vouchers, all from above the net where the Hurricanes shoot twice. Carolina got this club seating area right!

BB&T Center - Sky Club: Its not often that you'll find club seating mixed in with the rest of the sections on the upper level, and its even more rare to find them with all inclusive food and beverage. Tickets are more affordable given the higher views, and are a great way to enjoy premium amenities on a budget.

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