Ever since I moved to Budapest, Hungary, I've been meaning to get to a KHL game. The Russia-based league has grown by leaps and bounds every single year since its inception, and shows no signs of slowing down, with Jokerit of the Finnish SM-Liga set to join the party next season. The league obviously has some great players, but I've been wondering for some time how it stacks up against the NHL both in terms of the quality of play and that of the in-house experience for fans. Zagreb, Croatia, home of Medveščak, didn't disappoint.
The scene was set at Arena Zagreb, which is found just outside the center of the city. From the heart of the old town, it's only a 10-minute cab ride, and traffic around the arena was very well managed. The game was sold out to 15,200 people and roughly a quarter of the rink filled up to watch the teams warm up 45 minutes before game time.
Medveščak normally plays in a much smaller arena, which holds only 6,400 fans, but I am told that this is in fact a much louder building because the acoustics there carry fan/game sounds better. As a matter of fact, these two arenas are the only two indoor rinks in the entire country. They have two other outdoor rinks (there was over a foot of snow there when I arrived) but weather can be unpredictable in the winter. In any event, Arena Zagreb is a great facility, with clean sight lines no matter where you sit.