Watch Hockey in Champaign, Danville, Springfield and Peoria
With franchises in Chicago and St. Louis, the National Hockey League attracts much of the attention of Central Illinois hockey fans. Both teams have won the Stanley Cup within the past decade — the St. Louis Blues most recently in 2019, and the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015.
Professional sports often means “professional” prices. And those can be cost-prohibitive for a family of 4 or more.
Families don’t have travel far from Champaign-Urbana to see one of the fastest-paced sports played at a high level. Danville, Springfield and Peoria each host a hockey team of juniors, professionals or would-be pros, and the University of Illinois has a club team.
The Illini hockey club is a local favorite, but has a bit of a … reputation. Check out our comments below.
University of Illinois: It is not a varsity sport at the U of I, but the club team has a successful history and a popular following in Champaign, where the team competes at the UI Ice Arena.
Crowds can be raucous and rowdy, with college students creating a home-ice advantage envied by rivals. Single-game tickets are $5-7 for UI students, children ages 5-17; $10 for general public. (Reserved front row seating is $10-$12). You can also buy season passes, which are a good deal, or flexible passes, which also are discounted.
Vermilion County Bobcats: There’s a new hockey team in Danville, a replacement for the team formerly known as Danville Dashers. The Vermilion County Bobcats have joined the low-level Southern Professional Hockey League, the same league as the Peoria Rivermen.
The Bobcats will play 56 games in the SPHL this season, 28 of them on home ice at David S. Palmer Arena in Danville. Single game tickets are very affordable – $5 for kids 3-12, $7 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults. Season tickets are also available for sale.
Games begin in mid-October and the season continues through April. Most games are Friday – Sunday. Note: there is fighting in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Springfield Jr. Blues: The Jr. Blues compete in the North American Hockey League, which features amateur players who typically are ages 16-21 and seeking to attract the attention of college coaches and NHL scouts.
The Jr. Blues play at the Franklin P. Nelson Recreation Center is a 2,100-seat multi purpose ice arena and recreational facility located in Springfield. Single-game tickets range from $10 -12 for adults, with kids 12 and under admitted for $6-8. Get a discounted ticket price when you buy them online in advance.
The season goes from September to April.
One important note for parents: Fighting in the NAHL is rare.
Peoria Rivermen: Peoria has a long history with minor league hockey, with a team dubbed the Peoria Rivermen having competed in four different professional leagues. Since 2013, the Rivermen have been a member of the low-level Southern Professional Hockey League, which is based in the southeast and features some cool team nicknames like the Evansville Thunderbolts, the Huntsville Havoc and the Knoxville Ice Bears.
The Rivermen have a business agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks, but it does not include a player affiliation agreement, so you won’t see any future Blackhawks in Peoria. But the Rivermen will have Blackhawks giveaway nights and other promotions featuring the NHL team.
Single-game tickets for the Rivermen, who play at the Peoria Civic Center, range from $10 to $20. The season begins in October.
There is fighting in the Southern Professional Hockey League.