Hockey is a global sport. Take the recent World Juniors tournament. Countries as diverse as Finland, Russia, the United States, Canada and Switzerland are all heavily invested in the sport. One of the great things about hockey is the way the sport is slightly different in every country. This shows in the style of play and even in the buildings. There are lots of distinctive venues for hockey all around the world.


Take, for example, Vaillant Arena in Switzerland. This rink has an almost religious atmosphere, with a vaulted ceiling that evokes a church. Though it’s now fully enclosed, this arena actually started its life as an outdoor rink. In the 1970s, a roof was added. In the early 1980s, the sides of the rink were enclosed with glass. Today, Vaillant Arena is not just a unique building, it also has one of the most unusual histories of any actively used hockey rink.


There are several unique NCAA hockey rinks, too. One of the most storied, and most interesting, is Princeton’s Hobey Baker Memorial Rink. Baker was a star hockey player at Princeton in the early 20th Century. He was later killed in World War I. The NCAA award for the best hockey player annually bears Hobey Baker’s name. The Memorial rink is one of the oldest rinks still used in NCAA hockey. Built in 1922, it’s a classic old barn, and the only sport played there is hockey. The brick exterior and trestle ceiling are vintage touches that aren’t often seen today.


Finally, the Gjøvik Olympic Cavern Hall in Norway is totally unlike most other hockey rinks. The Olympic Cavern Hall was constructed in 1993, in preparation for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. The rink was built into a cavern within Hovdetoppen mountain. Norway is mountainous, and engineers there are used to tunneling. The Cavern Hall building features nine stories, all of them are located underground. This is by far one of the most interesting and best-hidden ice hockey rinks in the world. The exterior of the building is totally unassuming compared to the size of the rink inside. Interestingly, this isn’t the only hockey rink hidden in a mountain. Two other, smaller in-mountain rinks pre-date it. Those are located in Finland.