The Big Chill at The Big House: A Look Back To All Outdoor Hockey Games
Michigan Stadium usually hosts football games. They pack in around 113,000 for Michigan football every Saturday.
This Saturday the stadium will get a very different look. Michigan Stadium will host the Big Chill at the Big House. The University of Michigan will host Michigan State in an outdoor, pond hockey battle.
The pond hockey games have been a staple in society since hockey was first started. Most kids start out playing pond hockey in the frozen months. This game will commemorate those happy times.
The outdoor hockey games in the United States began in October 2001 with these same two teams. That game was played at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Since then, there has been a plethora of outdoor games in the U.S. Here is a look back to all the outdoor games and a preview of the Big Chill.
The Cold War: October 6, 2001
On October 6, 2001, Michigan and Michigan State began the outdoor hockey game in the U.S. with the Cold War. This game set the world record for the largest crowd for a hockey game at 74,544. This record was later broken in 2010 in Germany.
I was at that game in 2001. I don't know if there was a different crowd or there was so much excitement surrounding the game, but there was not as much animosity as there usually is between the two schools.
It was a sight to see. Our hockey tickets at Yost Ice Arena are in the first row right in front of the glass. It was a different experience to be 100 feet away from the glass, overlooking the arena, rather than actually feeling the ice.
The game ended in a 3-3 tie. Jim Slater, now an NHL player, scored with less than a minute to go on then-goalie Josh Blackburn (remember him?) to knot it at 3-3. After a five minute scoreless overtime, the game ended in a tie.
To see a video of the construction in Spartan Stadium: http://www.msuspartans.com/allaccess/?media=216106
Heritage Classic: November 22, 2003
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While this game was not played in the U.S., it does involve two teams in the National Hockey League. This was the first outdoor hockey game played in the NHL.
The game was at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Despite it's temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius and windchill of -30 degrees Celsius, over 57,000 people attended the game.
Ty Conklin and Jose Theodore faced off in goal. The game ended with Montreal winning, 4-3. Montreal had two goals each from Richard Zednik and Yanic Perreault. Zednik has most recently played in the Kontinental Hockey League. Perreault is currently an unrestricted free agent in the NHL.
Before the game, a MegaStars game was played. Edmonton featured Wayne Gretzky, while Montreal featured Guy Lafleur.
Frozen Tundra Classic: February 11, 2006
Yes, Lambeau Field is usually freezing, especially during December and the playoffs. Did you ever imagine you would see hockey played at Lambeau, though?
That is what happened on February 11, 2006, when the University of Wisconsin hosted Ohio State. With just less than 41,000 fans, it was the second-largest crowd to ever watch a college hockey game.
Lambeau was not too frozen this day, as the temperatures did not drop below 27 degrees. Keeping some traditions alive, Wisconsin also brought over the Jump Around tradition in between periods.
Wisconsin won the game 4-2. Wisconsin would go on to win the National Championship, beating Boston College 2-1.
NHL Winter Classic: January 1, 2008
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Commonly referred to as the Ice Bowl, the first annual NHL Winter Classic featured the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. It was played in Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills.
The game set an NHL attendance record at 71,217 people, but failed to pass the record set by the Cold War.
The Penguins won 2-1 in a shootout on a goal by captain Sidney Crosby. Ty Conklin played his second outdoor game, as a goalie for the Penguins. Ryan Miller, a former Spartan, played goalie for the Sabres.
Due to the weather conditions, the NHL put several rule changes into effect. The teams switched sides halfway through the third period. The horn sounded at ten minutes, allowing the Zamboni to resurface the ice.
The overtime was played in this same fashion, with the horn sounding at 2:30. For the shootout, both goalies chose the same net to defend.
NHL Winter Classic: January 1, 2009
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In a rivalry matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, the 2009 NHL Winter Classic was played at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
This was the first Winter Classic to feature at least one of the Original Six teams. To honor this, the Wings wore the jerseys of the Detroit Cougars of 1926-27. The Blackhawks wore sweaters representing the 1936-37 and 1937-38 teams.
The defending Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings won 6-4. Similar to the 2008 Winter Classic, the teams switched sides halfway through the third period due to the winds in Wrigley.
Detroit had goals by Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler, Pavel Datsyuk, Brian Rafalski, and Brett Lebda. The league seems to have followed Ty Conklin. He played in his third outdoor hockey game.
NHL Winter Classic: January 1, 2010
From Wrigley Field to Fenway Park, the NHL Winter Classic travelled to Boston to host their annual outdoor game. This game featured the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.
While no records were broken, this game did feature the first fight at a Winter Classic. In the first period, Shawn Thorton and Daniel Carcillo got in to it, with Carcillo getting beaten down to the ice.
The Bruins won 2-1 in overtime. One of the most attractive parts to this game was the Green Monster. While the Green Monster does not affect the hockey game, it is a famous part of Fenway Park.
Right after the game, the U.S. Olympic roster was announced for the 2010 Winter Olympics. There was originally going to be a second outdoor game right after the Winter Classic, but that never panned out.
Frozen Fenway: January 8, 2010
Since Fenway Park already had an ice rink in it, why not host a college game there too? The Beanpot Classic between Boston College and Boston University travelled to Fenway on January 8, 2010.
Just the third outdoor college hockey game, the 38,472 fans set a Hockey East record. Boston University beat Boston College 3-2.
Boston College wore special jerseys for the game. They added a third stripe to their jerseys, which was green to commemorate the Green Monster.
Boston College would go on to win the National Championship over Wisconsin.
Camp Randall Holiday Classic: February 6, 2010
The University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin both decided to play in their second outdoor hockey game. This time, Camp Randall, the home of Wisconsin football, hosted the game on February 6, 2010.
A Wisconsin school-record crowd of 55,031 saw the Badgers beat the Wolverines 3-2. With two key power plays at the end of the game, Wisconsin converted on both of them to down the Wolverines.
The Wisconsin women also played a hockey game at Camp Randall that day. They defeated Bemidji State 6-1.
The Big Chill at The Big House: December 11, 2010
Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the U.S., with a capacity of 109,901. This year, the football team set a record with 113,090 people watching Michigan and Connecticut in football. With almost all the tickets sold for the Big Chill, this is expected to break the record for a hockey crowd.
The Big Chill featured a ticket freeze in May. After 100,000 tickets were sold, the remaining tickets were held for incoming freshmen.
Michigan will host Michigan State this Saturday. Michigan will wear special jerseys for the game, similar to the teams in the 1940's.
During the week prior to the game, more than 25 college, high school, and youth hockey games will occur in Michigan Stadium. There will also be a public skate on December 12.
To see the skating schedule, a live web cast of the rink, and other great features, visit http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/ihm-bigchill-2010.html
Michigan and Michigan State have both been struggling this season. While ranked 12th in the country, Michigan has only compiled a 9-5-4 record, splitting their last two games against Ohio State.
Michigan State is 6-8-3 overall, splitting their last two games against Ferris State.
Even if both teams are the worst in the country, this will be a good matchup, as it always is when these teams play each other.
Michigan will hopefully play better than their defensive football counterparts. The trend throughout the outdoor college hockey games is to give the home team a slight advantage in the power play department.
This will hopefully favor Michigan as they convert on over 15 percent of their power plays and Michigan State is giving up a goal on over 17 percent of their penalty kills.
Either way, Michigan should win this game, but you never know in a rivalry game with over 100,000 screaming fans.
Michigan is 5-2-1 at home and calls Yost "the best place to play." Many opponents call Yost the toughest and loudest place to play. Hopefully, those fans will come out in force to the Big Chill.