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: 1, in 2021-22
Memorial Cup Championships: 1, in 2011-12
Colours: Black, Gold, Navy & White
Official Web Site:
Former Arenas: Aréna Jacques-Plante
Aréna de Grand-Mère


 Centre Gervais Auto

Centre Gervais Auto

 What's the Arena Like?

First Visit: March 4, 2022
CHL Arena: 60
QMJHL Arena: 21

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 pre-war buildings left that was more-or-less original on the inside, from the 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 winter of 2022, I made it back to Shawinigan and saw another Cataractes game.

I use the phrase "Clone Rink" a lot to describe modern arena design, because so many junior buildings built since the 1990's are so similar to each other. Shawinigan's arena is not a clone. Of all the new arenas I've been to, Shawinigan's might be the most unique, and that is absolutely a compliment. From the outside, 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. But inside, there's a twin concourse design in Shawinigan, with a mid-way interior concourse supplementing a second one under the grandstands. I can't think of many other arenas built like that since the 1970's (Saginaw in the OHL is quite similar).

Secondly, while the site of Centre Gervais Auto was former industrial brownfield land and they could have built the arena in any shape they liked, they built it in a rectangle and then shoehorned seats in everywhere to fit. There's not really what you'd call upper and lower bowls in Shawinigan; rather, the seating goes higher in the corners to fill in the gaps where the walls of the arena fail to curve inward. In the far back corners of the arena lies private suites and concessions, etc., depending on the corner. It's a very strange setup, somewhat reminiscent of the old arena in Plymouth, Michigan, but where Compuware Arena was a disaster for hosting hockey, Shawinigan just... works. The views of the ice are spectacular, seating is reasonably steep by new building standards, and the atmosphere is great.

Once inside, the first thing that stood out to me about the Centre Gervais Auto is that it is unmistakably 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.

The throwbacks continue. Shawinigan has no team store, only a small souvenir kiosk near the building's entrance. Facilities are nothing special for a new rink, with not enough washrooms. Finally, somehow, the cigar store Indian that used to get wheeled out after a Cataractes goal is still there, although at least he's now fixed in place. Truthfully, in a world where aboriginal motifs in team identities are thankfully being phased out, it's hard to understand how the Cataractes, a team that didn't use Native iconography until 1998, somehow still clings to the worst logo in the CHL in this day and age. And believe me, the fierce Indian Brave logo is everywhere in the arena, painted onto nearly every flat surface.

The only thing in Shawinigan that really reminds a visitor of what year it is is their AV presentation. The video and ribbon board graphics and presentation in Shawinigan are professional-grade and would be the envy of many NHL teams. While I felt the sound system was just slightly too loud for me, I was very impressed by just how good the Cataractes' AV team is. The rest of the arena is more spartan than luxurious, but I didn't mind that at all. You'd never know that Centre Gervais Auto wasn't built in the 1970's, and again, I absolutely mean that as a compliment.

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 a game at Centre Gervais Auto, I'm glad I did. Seeing the CHL's most unique new arena would have been worth it anyway, but seeing a place with the atmosphere and professional-grade light show that it has made it that much better. If only the team would ditch the Native logo, it would be one of the best experiences in the CHL.

 Inside Centre Gervais Auto

Centre Gervais Auto

 Future Developments
There are no plans to renovate or replace the Centre Gervais Auto.

 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
1 Mario Gosselin
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

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

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Last Revised: March 12, 2022