Reporting Mike Max
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s strange to say “Gopher hockey” and “Soldier Field” in the same sentence, but that’s the backdrop for the Gophers’ game with Wisconsin on Sunday.
The outdoor hockey fad started on Oct. 6, 2001, when Michigan State hosted and tied rival Michigan at Spartan Stadium – it was labeled the “Cold War” and 74,000 witnessed it.
The Wolverines topped that in 2010 when more than 113,000 crammed into the Big House to see the home team beat their rival.
Wisconsin has seen a few cold weather games — 40,000 fans saw the Badgers knock off Ohio State 4-2 at Lambeau Field in 2006.
“It’s obviously a unique experience, one that not everyone can go through,” Zach Budish said. “We’ll cherish the moment, and at the same time we need a win on Sunday.”
The Gophers are excited to be getting back to playing outside – just like when they were children.
“It’s just awesome going on the outdoor rinks and skating like you’re 5 years old,” Budish said. “Pond hockey brings everyone together.”
The U also needs some wins as their hope for a last WCHA title is slowly fading away.
“We’ve got eight more games to go,” said coach Don Lucia said. “And this is the border battle and is extremely important for us.”