The countdown is on — less than 24 hours from now the puck will drop in a game that is simply being called The Big Chill at the Big House.
Tomorrow, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the University of Michigan Wolverines host the inner-state rival Michigan State University Spartans in an outdoor hockey rematch.
They’re back before the Heritage Classic (2003) and even the Winter Classic spectacular. All the way back to 2001, the Spartans hosted the Wolverines in an outdoor game simply called “The Cold War.” The Cold War has been credited to starting this sudden rush to return the game outdoors, ending it in a tie.
Probably the most well-known name from The Cold War game was the then starting MSU goalie Ryan Miller. Miller, who now plays for the Buffalo Sabres, is one of the most well-known goaltenders in the National Hockey League after backstopping the underdog Team USA to a silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
History has been made.
Now what makes this game so special? Other than the two schools being huge rivals in pretty much everything you can be rivals about, it will be the largest crowd ever for a hockey game. An expected 110,000 fans will be in attendance for The Big Chill.
Let’s put that into some perspective.
The Cold War 2001 (U of M @ MSU – 2001) 74,544
The Heritage Classic 2003 (Canadiens @ Oilers) 57,167
The Winter Classic 2008 (Penguins @ Sabres) 71,217
The Winter Classic 2009 (Red Wings @ Blackhawks) 40,818
The Winter Classic 2010 (Flyers @ Bruins) 38,112
Rekordmatchen 2009 (Färjestads BK @ Frölunda HC ) 31,144
And the current holders of the largest audience for a hockey game:
2010 IIHF World Championship (USA @ Germany) 75,976
Once again: History was made.
With the current record set at 75,976, nearly 110,000 are expected to be at Michigan Stadium (The Big House) on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010.
History will be made.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter as I will be updating live throughout The Big Chill at the Big House. Also be sure to check out the hash tag #TheBigChill on Twitter.