Colisee Financiere Sun Life – Rimouski Oceanic
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For those people who feel that they have done a lot in their young lives, the example of the Rimouski Océanic is presented here. The Océanic are one of the rock solid franchises in the Québec Major Junior Hockey League. They have won the President’s Cup as league champions in 2000, 2005 and 2015 and even won the penultimate Memorial Cup, as Canadian Hockey League Champions in 2000. Rimouski has been home to such NHL stars as Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier and some guy named Sidney Crosby. In 2009, Rimouski hosted the Memorial Cup tournament. All of this since they moved near the Gaspé region of Québec in 1995 and they are currently owned by Alexandre Tanguay … who is in his twenties.
The Rimouski Océanic were originally the Sherbrooke Castors in 1969. In 1982 they moved to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The move to Rimouski was facilitated by former owner and furniture magnate Maurice Tanguay. In 2016, Maurice would transfer his ownership stake to his grandson Alexandre at age 23. The younger Tanguay has a prominent role in the day to day operations of the team, which provides one of the best experiences in the entire QMJHL.
Home for the Océanic is the Colisée Financière Sun Life, which was built in 1966 and formerly known as the Colisée de Rimouski. The city owned Colisée, like many QMJHL venues, is a classic barn-like venue which has received significant upgrades to bring it up to Major Junior hockey standards. The Colisée is a pleasant surprise and the Océanic experience is one that will rival any other in the QMJHL.
Food & Beverage 3
Concessions at Colisée Financière Sun Life are fairly average. There is not a ton of space in the arena. There are three small concessions in the corners on the ice level. There are also three main concessions in the concourses. All of the expected items are available, including pogos, chicken fingers, chicken wings, hot dogs ($3), burgers, fries, cotton candy, chocolate and popcorn ($4.50). Of course, it just wouldn’t be Québec without poutine. A variety of different poutines are for sale in the concourse concessions. Coca-Cola products are the soft drink of choice.
Built in 1966 with a capacity of over 5,000, Colisée Financière Sun Life is a perfect venue for a QMJHL team in a community like Rimouski. The barn-like structure is common throughout the league and is slightly modified in Rimouski. The roof is a little flatter and the original capacity is a little larger than some of the smaller rinks that required modification. However, the exterior shows that the Colisée was modified to add a main entrance, which is on the north side of the building. The front exterior is sharp, with lots of glass and a huge Océanic logo. The First Nations artwork in front of the arena gives it a very unique feel, with some local flavour. Inside the main atrium, the Océanic honour their tradition of producing some of the best NHL players with pictures on the doors of Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and of course, Sidney Crosby.
The seating bowl is a healthy mix of old and new. The rafters are classic hardwood and give the arena that old-school feel to it. Sight lines around the rink are fantastic. Three sections around centre ice are for club seating, while the rest of the arena features comfortable, modern seats. The rink runs from north to south and the perfect spot for the centre ice picture is from the east side of the building. In the rafters a number of banners hang, showcasing the great tradition of Océanic hockey.
Banners for the on ice success for Rimouski hang proudly, including three Trophée Jean-Rougeau and three Coupe du Président banners join the ultimate honour, the 2000 Memorial Cup Champions banner. There is also a banner that honours the 28 game undefeated streak to begin the 2004 season. Two different types of banners hang in the rafters to honour players. The Océanic have retired the numbers of Jonathan Beaulieu, Michel Oulette, Allan Sirois, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier. They join the banner for former owner Maurice Tanguay who has won it all with the Océanic. On the other side of the arena there are banners honouring Alain Côté, Louis Sleigher, Serge Bernier and Donald Dufresne. All are products of the Gaspé area and the Rimouski minor hockey system. It is just a matter of time until Sidney Crosby’s number 87 is also retired in Rimouski.
The game day production is about what you would expect from a QMJHL experience. The Océanic use modern lighting on the ice and LED lights to modernize the production a bit. The PA system is quite good and clear and the video board is perfect for the size of the arena. Everything in the arena is loud, especially the ship horn which signifies an Océanic goal. The Océanic mascot, a seal named Loucky, participates on the ice, in the pregame festivities and makes his way through the stands, interacting with fans during the game.
Rimouski is located right on the south shore on the St. Lawrence River. The city is quite picturesque at the waterfront. The arena is not located in a downtown area and there are only a couple of spots available for a pre or post game meal. St. Hubert is a Québec staple and probably a spot that needs trying when in the province. Another spot worth trying is Rétro 50, an old school, fifties style diner.
For fans looking for other things to do in Rimouski, any of the traditional Québec outdoor winter activities are prevalent in the Gaspé area. These would include skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Spots in the city that are interesting include a tour of the HMCS Onondaga or the Point-au-Père Lighthouse. As far as sporting options, there are not too many others in the area. There are some athletic teams that play at the UQAR, but that is about it.
Fans wishing to stay in the Rimouski area will probably want to head towards the waterfront. Hôtel Le Navigateur and Hôtels Gouverneur Rimouski are decent options for accommodations.
The fan situation in Rimouski is curious. On first glance of the numbers, it seems that there is significant room for improvement. In the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons, the Océanic have averaged approximately 3,300 fans per game. This is well below capacity and places them 5th or 6th in the QMJHL. This is just above the mid-point for the small league. However, the game that was reviewed was a different story. A near capacity crowd was loud and proud throughout the game and noisemakers were definitely part of the equation. Perhaps with the playoffs around the corner and the Océanic poised for a decent run, the fans had made a surge and bumped their mark up.
The Colisée is located in the middle of Rimouski, south of highway 132, east of highway 232 and north of Autoroute 20. Getting to the arena is not difficult at all, given the relatively small size of the city. Parking is free in the Colisée parking lot. There are some public transit options that will require more research. Fans should check out the Ville de Rimouski website for more details on Taxibus and Citébus.
The ticketing and main gate area are located in the north side atrium. There is plenty of space available and fans will not have to worry too much about lineups. That being said, getting around the arena can be very difficult. Concourses are extremely narrow and the concessions that are at ice level make getting around almost impossible during an intermission.
Return on Investment 5
QMJHL hockey provides a return on investment that is second to none and Rimouski is a shining example. Tickets for the Océanic are extremely affordable with adult tickets going for $16.50 and club seats priced at $19. There are also discounts for students, seniors and children. Parking is free and concession prices are decent. The product on the ice is very strong. With such a small investment, bringing the entire family out to the game is a real possibility without having to drop a mortgage payment on the affair.
An extra mark for the Océanic’s ability to groom some of the NHL’s best ever. Crosby, Richards and Lecavalier headline the list of former Rimouski players and all have won a Stanley Cup.
An extra mark for the Océanic’s rivalry with the Québec Remparts.
An extra mark for the brilliant job of blending the old with the new in the Colisée.
An extra mark for breaking the mold and having the youngest owner going.
Having passed off the Rimouski Océanic to his grandson Alexandre Tanguay, Maurice Tanguay must be proud of how his team has continued. The Océanic continue to be a solid franchise in the QMJHL and have continued to enjoy success on and off the ice. They are truly one of the best experiences in the league and worth the trip to the south shore area.
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