Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Who has the best food in Hockey East?

Daily Collegian sports writers create a definitive ranking of chicken tender baskets
Keith Toffling
Daily Collegian (2018)

Reporting on the Massachusetts hockey team requires a lot of driving and visiting arenas nearly every weekend. Our primary focus during these trips is, of course, writing about hockey games, but we’ve been working on another project behind the scenes: ranking the best chicken tender baskets at every arena.

For this food guide, we ranked the top five chicken tender and fries combo meals at arenas across Hockey East, and we have a bonus section dedicated to some of the best non-chicken tender items across even more venues, including the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland.


Best Tenders

  1. Northeastern

Only one of us had the chance to eat these chicken tenders but they did not disappoint. With glowing reviews from the three members of the hockey beat that attended Northeastern, the tenders take the No. 1 spot on the list.

While the fries were just average, the chicken tenders carried the meal for the top spot. Instead of strips, the Huskies opted for nuggets. Despite the expensive price, there is a large quantity that tastes great. The spices mixed with the sauces they provide elevate the taste of the nuggets.

  1. Boston University

BU has a very solid tender and fries combo. Nothing is overly special about it: just a buttermilk chicken strip and some crispy, classic cut fries. The big thing is that they’re well executed and delivered on everything we could possibly want.

If BU wasn’t competing with Raising Canes right outside the arena, I think these would be even more popular than they already are.

  1. Boston College

The BC tender meal is a bit divisive within our group. The tenders themselves are excellent, but the decision to have potato wedges instead of fries split opinions. Colin thought the wedges were too thick and not flavorful enough, but Kayla was a fan. Regardless, this was still a quality meal and it was free for the media, so it slots into the top three.

What really adds to the experience is the cost of the meal before the game. With the meal being half off before puck drop, it’s an easy go-to before watching a hockey game.

  1. UMass

It should be said that we have consumed a lot of chicken tender baskets from the Mullins Center over the last two years. Sometimes, they’re absolutely perfect, but not always. They still slot into the top five and have served us well at home games. No complaints.

With the addition of sweet and sour and ranch, the tenders are at its best when dipped in the sauces. Despite being inconsistent at times, the tenders typically allow the hockey beat to leave Mullins Center satisfied

  1. Providence

The first time at Providence at the beginning of the season had us questioning putting them at the No. 1 spot on the list. The tenders were perfectly cooked and had everyone in the press box happy. After the second trip, though, Providence bumped down due to being overcooked and not enjoyable.

The experience was so unenjoyable that Kayla could not put herself to finish the tenders. Colin did finish his, but he was also very hungry for tenders.

As far as the other HEA venues, Maine was fine but nothing to write home about, UMass Lowell’s were downright bad, and UConn does not have chicken tenders.


Best of the Rest

  1. DCU Center

Worcester, Mass. has some excellent food and for the 2022 NCAA regionals, the DCU Center had some of the best options in the area catered for media. The steak tips were absolutely excellent, seafood was on point and donuts as a dessert did not disappoint.

This was by far the best media meal we’ve eaten over the last two years.

  1. Frozen Fenway

Walking into Fenway Park is already magical, but the lobster mac and cheese somehow made the experience even better.

The mac and cheese did not just have small pieces of lobster but large chunks that carried the meal. We were all upset that the ice cream machine wasn’t working but left happy after having an amazing dinner.

  1. Merrimack

Merrimack always has buffet style food ready for special guests and media, and given the number of times UMass has played the Warriors over the last two years, we’ve eaten those meals a ton.

The pasta option is typically a great choice, and Merrimack also serves some incredible brownies and cookies for dessert. A great media experience, especially for the regular season.

  1. Friendship Four

The Friendship Four was an incredible tournament to experience in person, but the food in the arena left some to be desired. The chicken tenders were slightly above average, the hot dog bites were strange, and the chicken sandwich was not very tasty.

We’d do that trip 100 times over, but in hindsight, I think it makes more sense to get dinner before arriving.

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @kaygregoire.

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  • S

    SignmanMar 9, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Are you fucking insane? The chicken sandwich in Belfast makes Popeyes look like hot garbage. I thought the sadness of this season was over, but I would’ve taken watching UMass give up 6 consecutive goals to Clarkson over being made aware of this inane take. My hope for humanity is lost.