Buffalo's Hockey Auditoriums
A rich history of hockey has played out over the years in Buffalo’s civic centers
Hockey wasn’t introduced in America until the late 1890’s. Usually played in outdoor rinks or frozen rivers in zero degree weather, hockey received a frosty reception from the sports loving American public at first. However, by the turn of the century, the invention of modern indoor, artificial-ice rinks offered the game to the casual spectator from the comfort of his or her own seat, while players enjoyed a safer, smoother ice surface. By 1908, professional hockey leagues were well established in Canada, and began to emerge in the United States as well. The birth of these leagues paved the way for smaller, amateur leagues that brought the fast-paced action of hockey to smaller towns.
Long before the HSBC Arena, Memorial Auditorium or even the Broadway Auditorium, the Nichols School introduced hockey to Buffalo with it’s enclosed ice rink during the late 1910's. The first of it’s kind in the region, Nichols enjoyed brisk turnouts of supporters at their games. Unfortunately, the ice surface was not artificial and the athletes were subject to early thaw and terrible playing conditions. Despite the adverse playing conditions, the Nichols boys showed Buffalo’s adoring public the speed and excitement associated with hockey. Ten years' worth of enthusiastic support of the Nichols hockey program was enough to convince promoters that professional hockey would go over big in the area. The Niagara Frontier Region experienced its first winter with professional hockey in November 1928, with the completion of the indoor ice rink at Ft. Erie and the birth of the Buffalo Bisons Professional Hockey Club.