As cold as it gets in Iowa, hockey is not the first thing on Midwestern minds. This could be just from a lack of opportunity to see the sport live and in action. The completion of Coralville’s Xtream Arena in September 2020 opened a new door. The arena is home to the Iowa Hawkeye Women’s Volleyball team and the brand-new member of the East Coast Hockey League, the Iowa Heartlanders.
The team had their season opener on Friday October 22nd, beating the Kansas City Mavericks 7-4. On November 12th, I had the enjoyment of attending a game myself and I was surprised at what a fun time I had. The Heartlanders played Indiana Fuel and won 5-3. I had not been to a hockey game in years and the pure entertainment was something I’d recommend to any Iowa City area resident. The game was full of non-stop action. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there were only two fights that took place, and they were stopped before they truly started.
Iowa Heartlanders is represented by a deer who is still unnamed. However, there is a form open on their website that is taking recommendations for the mascot. The website is full of the team’s standing, game schedule, merchandise and more. The tickets can be purchased from the Xtream Arena site for a reasonable price depending on how close the seat is to the ice. Their final game is April 9th, 2022.
There are 14 minor league hockey teams in Iowa. The level of these players was extraordinary to watch. Saying that the team is “minor” is an understatement. The players are working to one day make the pros and their commitment is evident in their expressions and the way they play the game.
Zooming across the ice, my attention was captured the entire time. I chose to sit in the third row up from the ice and I cannot count the number of times I jumped when a player was smashed into the wall. The younger viewers of the game would scream and cheer every single time this occurred. Honestly, the arena is relatively small, making every seat a good one. The tight-knit environment allows the energy to spread to every viewer. I sometimes would have trouble distinguishing where the puck was as the players moved so fast it was hard to keep track.
The overall environment of the game was what I enjoyed most. The fast-paced movements kept viewers of all ages engaged. It reminded me of basketball, but on ice. The Heartlanders are an up-and-coming team with a growing following. Even if you’re not a hockey person, I highly recommend attending a Heartlanders game only a short way from campus. You just may be entertained by the action-packed ice sport.