Outdoor Hockey Mania On Horizon

Today in Detroit, we received the first significant amount of snowfall this fall/winter. This is usually the first sign that warm weather has taken a back seat until spring. This is also the beginning of what appears to be an excellent winter of outdoor hockey games being played across the United States and Canada.

Today is also the first day that tickets went on sale for the 2011 Tim Horton’s NHL Heritage Classic, a game that will take place February 20, 2011 at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta between Montreal and Calgary. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster annd range between $111.95 and $269.45 Canadian.

Wednesday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on HBO will be the primere of 24/7: Penguins/Capitals. If you have never seen or heard of 24/7, it is a documentary-style series that will take viewers inside and outside everything going on in Pittsburgh and Washington leading up to the Bridgestone Winter Classic on January 1. 24/7 has done previous series on athletes such as Jimmy Johnson, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao. The four-part series has even affected Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, as leading up to the 24/7 series he’s had to put money into a jar every time he swore in team meetings to help curb his use of foul language on television. He mentioned in an article he didn’t want to have his family see the foul language on television that New York Jets coach Rex Ryan used during the summer on the HBO series Hard Knocks.

However, the biggest (both figuratively and literally) game of the weekend will occur Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Arby’s Big Chill at The Big House is a college hockey game that will be contested between Michigan State and the University of Michigan at Michigan Stadium. Over 110,000 tickets have been sold for the event, which will easily break the attendance record for a hockey game. The two teams originally set the attendance record in 2001 with the Cold War game that took place at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. That game ended in a 3-3 tie. Tomorrow’s game is guaranteed to have a winner as the CCHA uses the shootout to award an extra point in conference games. The success of that game is what led to subsequent events such as the Winter Classic, Frozen Fenway, Frozen Tundra Classic, and the Camp Randall Classic.

Nearly 78,000 fans showed up to watch Germany upset the Americans 2-1 at the 2010 World Championship.

The record from the Cold War was broken earlier in 2010 with the opening game of the 2010 IIHF World Championship between Germany and the United States. It was played at a soccer stadium in Gelsenkirchen, where Germany upset the United States 2-1 in front of 77,803 fans.

Check back Sunday for photos and a recap of the festivities from Ann Arbor. Both Matt and myself will be attending the game. Keep an eye on our Twitter account for live tweeting during the game, and other action leading up to The Big Chill. Below is a list of the 12 most attended hockey games in history leading up to tomorrow’s The Big Chill at the Big House. The list includes projected attendance for The Big Chill, 2011 Winter Classic, and 2011 Heritage Classic in BOLD.

Attendance Name Date Location Main Event Game
110,000 The Big Chill 12/11/2010 Ann Arbor Michigan vs. Michigan St.
77,803 2010 World Championship 5/7/2010 Germany Germany vs. USA
74,554 Cold War 10/6/2001 E. Lansing Michigan vs. Michigan St.
71,217 2008 Winter Classic 1/1/2008 Buffalo Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo
65,000 2011 Winter Classic 1/1/2011 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh vs. Washington
57,167 Heritage Classic 11/22/2003 Edmonton Edmonton vs. Montreal
55,031 Camp Randall Classic 2/6/2010 Madison Michigan vs. Wisconsin
55,000 1957 World Championship 3/5/1957 Russia Soviet Union vs. Sweden
46,000 2011 Heritage Classic 2/20/2011 Calgary Calgary vs. Montreal
40,890 Frozen Tundra Classic 2/13/2006 Green Bay Wisconsin vs. Ohio State
40,818 2009 Winter Classic 1/1/2009 Chicago Chicago vs. Detroit
38,472 Frozen Fenway 1/8/2010 Boston Boston College vs.
Boston University
38,112 2010 Winter Classic 1/1/2010 Boston Boston vs. Philadelphia
37,592 2010 Frozen Four Final 4/10/2010 Detroit Boston College vs. Wisconsin
34,954 2010 Frozen Four Semis 4/8/2010 Detroit Boston College vs.  Miami
Wisconsin vs. RIT

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