Cataractes


Shawinigan Cataractes

Arena Name: Centre Gervais Auto
Capacity: 4,300
Built: 2008
Address: 1200, rue des Cèdres, Shawinigan, QC, G9N 2P6
Telephone No: (819) 537-6327
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 1969-70
QMJHL Championships: None
Memorial Cup Championships: 1, in 2011-12
Colours: Black, Gold, Navy & White
Official Web Site: cataractes.qc.ca
Unofficial Site: Cataractes Fan Club
Tourist Information: Tourism Mauricie
Former Arenas:
Arena Jacques-Plante
Aréna de Grand-Mère

QMJHL
Centre Gervais Auto
Centre Gervais Auto
What's the Arena Like?
The Arena Jacques-Plante in Shawinigan was one of Canada's truly great hockey arenas. When it closed in 2008, it was one of the few buildings left that was more-or-less original on the inside, from the original wooden seats to the iron support columns obstructing views throughout the building. While I lament its loss, I also understand that it's not reasonable for the people of Shawinigan to keep watching hockey in a museum. I made a point of going to see the Arena Jacques Plante in the fall of 2008, only two months before its permanent closure, and then was not back in Shawinigan for a decade.

In that time, the Cats opened the new Shawinigan Amphitheatre, changed its name twice for sponsorship reasons, and hosted a Memorial Cup, finally making up for the lost Memorial Cup of 1985 in which they had hosting duties revoked after two games owing to the inability of television to broadcast through a forest of columns. And finally, in the fall of 2018, I made it back to Shawinigan and checked out the building.

The Centre Gervais Auto sits on former brownfield land on the outskirts of downtown Shawinigan, a stone's throw away from their old building. It's a modern, spartan-looking brown brick building with silver aluminum cladding, and unusually for a downtown arena, it's surrounded by parking lots.

Once inside, the first thing that stood out to me about the Centre Gervais Auto is that it is unmistakeably home of the Shawinigan Cataractes. Unusually for a new building, nearly every exposed surface in the concourse area is painted in team colours, and there are murals and team history displays everywhere. In a CHL where new buildings seem to be competing with each other to be as bland on the inside as possible, it is so refreshing to see a team bucking the trend and going full-on Cataractes.

For an arena that only seats 4,000 and change, the arena feels way larger than it is. The building is split into lower and upper bowls with an interior concourse running around between the levels. The arena also feels architecturally like it was shoehorned into a rectangular box, and I mean that in a good way. Most new buildings are seamless on the interior, bland ovals of seats surrounding the ice. In Shawinigan, the interior space is the rectangle of the building's exterior walls, and seats climb back to the walls wherever they can be fit in. The result is a hodgepodge of seats that go back farther in the corners than they do on the ends and sides, and somehow it works.

Finally, somehow, the cigar store Indian that gets wheeled out after a Cataractes goal is still there.

Truth be told, in a CHL where so many of the new buildings came out of a box and were assembled like prefab houses, it was refreshing to see a new arena that looked and felt different. I hadn't exactly been in a rush to get back to Shawinigan to see the Cataractes again - for me, getting to see the old rink had been a priority but the new one would happen when it happened - but having now finally been to Centre Gervais Auto, I'm excited to go back and see what it's like going to a game there.
Future Developments
There are no plans to renovate or replace the Centre Gervais Auto.

How To Get There

From A-55: Exit at Boul. Trudel (Exit 211) and follow it past the lake into town. When you reach the roundabout at Ave. Station, turn right. From there, the route is very well-signed, but for the record, you make a left onto rue 5e and then another left onto Broadway when 5e dead-ends. The rink will be on your left.

There is a free parking lot on the arena grounds, or you can park on downtown streets.
Franchise History
The Shawinigan Bruins were originally a QJHL team with a franchise history dating back further than I have been able to find evidence. In 1969, they were one of the founding members of the new QMJHL. The team today is the only remaining original Q team still in its original location, although the team's name was changed in 1973 to the Shawinigan Dynamos, and then again in 1978 to the present Cataractes. They originally played at the Arena Jacques-Plante, but moved down the street to Centre Gervais Auto in December 2008.
Retired Numbers
7 Michel Brière
9 Sergio Momesso
14 Benoit Plouffe
16 Pascal Dupuis
17 Patrice Lefebvre
18 Marcel Giguere
19 Stephane Robidas
21 Marc-Andre Bergeron
26 Dean Bergeron
27 Stephan Lebeau
33 Patrick Lalime
Local Rivals
Historically, nearby Trois-Rivières was Shawinigan's biggest rival, but with the Draveurs long gone, the Cataractes' biggest rivals now are the other teams in the Montreal-Quebec City corridor, such as Drummondville, Victoriaville and Quebec.
Inside the Centre Bionest
Centre Gervais Auto

Feedback

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at email and I'll update the guide.






Copyright © Kevin Jordan 2002-18.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: September 28, 2018