Worcester has been an AHL city in the past, but the DCU Center has been host to the ECHL Worcester Railers HC since 2017 and I think the coast league is perfect for the building as it is today. It’s a little bit older than some of the buildings in the league, but with a series of renovations in 2009, 12 & 13, the building has kept up with some of the newer buildings like Santander in Reading, and other recent reno barns like Cross Insurance in Portland.
I’ve visited the DCU on three or four occasions, a couple times last year, and Saturday night the 30th being the first time this season. My first impression of the DCU was that it is a great building. Has some uniqueness to it, including end zone bar/lounge areas and a octagonal seating arrangement. The back three quarters of the 200 level are draped off, but the building has hung some nice bright electronic signage boards that run the length of the long sides of the building. Those runner boards plus a nice HD center hung board lead to bright and energetic video messaging. The only knock on the lighting comes in that there is no floor vs seating lighting. So the entire arena bowl is list during the game, which is always a mild bummer for me. I prefer the seating areas be dim during game time. I only have two other real knocks on the building. One is that it is starting to feel a bit old. Paint and signage are starting to peel. But, in contrast, the building is spectacularly clean. It’s almost annoying how many staff people are on hand to deal with spills and trash.
The other knock is also minor. The box office/will call traffic pattern is dumb.
All that said, when compared to the Providence Bruins, the Railers are the superior team. They outpace the P-Bruins in every aspect of fan experience.
Railers – walk in and you’re handed a one sheet roster
Bruins – the same one sheet roster costs $1
Railers – game day host with a great voice, entertaining and engaging the crowd
Bruins – no game day host
Railers – mascot Trax is visible throughout the game and engages with the game day host often.
Bruins – mascot is almost never around
Railers – 1 national anthem singer and a ceremonial puck drop
Bruins – kids groups (always) for the anthem & God Bless America and no ceremonial puck drop ever
Railers – team skates through a blow-up train engine (that’s broken down and off the ice in about a minute)
Bruins – they just skate on the ice.
Railers – theme nights, giveaways and prizes are regularly scheduled
Bruins – very few theme nights, almost no giveaways, and no fan contests
I say this very seriously, if I lived equidistantly between Providence and Worcester, I would be a Railers season ticket holder and not a Bruins season ticket holder. And we’re talking about the coast league. Most of these kids are going to be playing beer league in three years.
Now, for Saturday’s game, it was Spongebob Squarepants Night. That meant themed jerseys and graphics on the overhead board. The jerseys were available for auction during the game, but I have no idea how much they sold for (the auction was over shortly after the game).
The Railers are struggling early, last in the North Division, but coming off a win over the Growlers under new head coach Dave Cunniff and facing another struggling team in the Indy Fuel (and can I mention here how much I hate teams that don’t adapt their city’s actual name? Yeah, Vegas, I’m looking at you, too.)
But, second year goalie Evan Buitenhuis took the Railers out of the game giving up two soft goals in a 4-2 loss. The bright spot came in The Atlantic writer Jordan Samuels-Thomas. JST was a stride ahead of almost everybody on the ice, and would probably slot in as a fringe second liner for most AHL teams. Jordan was active in creating chances for the Railers all night, and grabbed the first line on the score sheet when he converted a break away opportunity into a penalty shot goal.
But, Buitenhuis, and a lack of offensive weapons kept the Railers from ever giving the Fuel an honest challenge for the game.
The most disappointing part of the game for me, though, is that we got all the way through a coast league tilt without a fight. C’mon, boys, if you’re going to be this bad, at least give us a scrap.