Away tournaments are a big part of every hockey season. Registering for the tournament, booking a hotel, and perhaps even fundraising are all important steps toward getting your team to the big competition. One other step you might not have considered (until it’s too late) is transportation. Having each player find their own ride is not a suitable solution for a team of 15 or so when the tournament is a few hours away.
The solution? Rent a team bus to get you to and from the overnighter, carry team equipment, and bring the team to each game.
Travelling to and from an away hockey tournament by bus is an experience players tend to remember fondly for the rest of their lives. The team bus is where memories are formed and bonds are tightened. In order for all that magic to happen, you’ve got to book a reliable bus for your team.
Start by consulting our Quick Guide to Choosing a Bus Type. Once you’ve reserved your charter bus of choice, your next step should be to ensure the safety and fun of your entire team throughout the trip. Create an attendance list to ensure all players board and debark the bus together every time — you can sort it by jersey number, or by forward lines and defence pairings.
Psst: if you are planning a trip for a group of smaller than 15 individuals, you may want to consider using a sprinter van. Bus.com offers two types of sprinter van rentals: one that comes with a chauffeured driver, and one that can be driven by any member of your team with a standard driver’s license.
Hockey players are some of the pickiest athletes when it comes to equipment. Everything has to be just so, from the type of stick tape they use to the way their skates are sharpened. Have your trainers reference our checklist to make sure they don’t forget anything at home.
- Skates & laces
- Game & practice hockey socks
- Athletic socks
- All-in-one jockstraps
- Shin pads
- Hockey pants and shells
- Game and practice jerseys
- Shoulder pads
- Elbow pads
- Neck guards
- Helmets & cages
- Hockey gauntlets
- Stick tape
- Hockey tape
- Goalie sticks
- Goalie masks
- Blocker & trapper
- Goalie skates
- Goalie cut practice & game jerseys
- Skate sharpeners
- Shooter tooter
- Team duffle bags
- Team tracksuits
- Water bottles
- First aid kit
- Sports drinks
- Helmet decals
The team hotel is another one of those off-ice memories hockey players hold onto. Who can forget meeting in the hallway for a late-night game of mini sticks? Given that your players might monopolize parts of the hotel, it’s probably best to keep the team together by booking a hotel room block — i.e. a designated number of rooms reserved for your team in one area of a hotel. Before you book, keep in mind that some hotels are better than others at accommodating sports teams. Holiday Inn Express will likely provide a discount for your team if you ask; La Quinta specializes in large groups; and Best Western is known to sponsor youth teams.
Planned pit stops
Hockey players like to move, so as fun as the bus ride is, they’re going to need a few pit stops along the way to stretch their legs and burn some energy. Think about leading a short team jog or stretching circle to avoid restlessness. Make sure you factor those stops into your calculated ETA so there are no surprises along the way.
Get some sight-seeing in
Depending on the location of your away game, plan some fun activities away from the rink for an unforgettable team bonding experience.
New York City
No one ever had any trouble finding tourist activities in Manhattan. Between the Statue of Liberty to Washington Square Park to the Central Park Zoo, New York City never sleeps, or even naps for that matter.
Hockey arenas in NYC
The most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, is home to hockey’s New York Rangers. If the Blueshirts aren’t in town, you can catch the Islanders — but check the schedule, because they split their home games between Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Hockey arenas in LA
At Downtown’s LA Live, the Kings home is the Staples Center, a legendary arena within a bustling complex of restaurants and bars. Make sure to pass by the Wayne Gretzky statue!
Can you think of a better place for a hockey tournament in the middle of January than Miami? Show up to the rink in shorts and sandals, and relax at the beach before the game.
Hockey arenas in Miami
The Florida Panthers play at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, about 40 minutes from downtown Miami. Florida’s other NHL team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, play about 4 hours northwest.
Hockey arenas in San Francisco
The closest NHL rink to San Francisco is found an hour and a half south in San Jose, home of the Sharks.
Hockey is religion in Montreal, which you’ll learn as you walk the streets and notice all the locals decked out in its home team’s bleu-blanc-rouge (red, white, and blue). Hockey fans should take a walk to the iconic Montreal Forum, home to the city’s pro hockey team between 1924 and 1996, and home to 24 Stanley Cup victories.
Hockey arenas in Montreal
The historic 24-time Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens play at the Bell Centre, perfectly located in downtown Montreal. It’s one of the most exciting venues to catch a game at, and it can be mind-boggling to stare up at all the retired numbers and championship banners.
Hockey arenas in Toronto
The Toronto Maple Leafs play their home games at Scotiabank Arena, steps from the CN Tower on Bay Street. A Leafs game is one of hockey’s toughest tickets, but you can also check out the minor league Marlies, who play at the Coca-Cola Coliseum just a few minutes west down the Gardiner Expressway.
Ready to plan your team’s bus trip itinerary? Get started now.