ANN ARBOR, USA – The Michigan Wolverines hosted state rivals Michigan State Spartans in a game that made hockey history. Some 113,411 fans attended the college game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Saturday afternoon to set a new world record. Played in freezing weather, the Wolverines won the game 5-0, on a European-sized ice surface in the football stadium. A game that began under glorious, sunny blue skies continued under cloud cover and ended in night shadows and stadium lighting.
Dubbed “The Big Chill at the Big House”, the game was a re-match of the first modern outdoor game, held at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan, on October 6, 2001. That game, dubbed “The Cold War”, was played before a then-record crowd of 74,554 and ended in a 3-3 tie. This game was played at the Wolverines’ football stadium commonly known as the Big House.
The world record for a hockey game was set again on May 7, 2010, when Germany defeated the United States, 2-1 in overtime, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, the first game of the 2010 IIHF World Championship. The game was played at Veltins Arena, normally used for soccer, before a world record crowd of 77,803. As the game was played under a roof, it remains the world record for a hockey game played indoor, while the overall attendance record goes back to Michigan.
Today’s record will be very tough to beat, indeed, because there aren’t too many stadiums in the world located in wintry climes that have a larger capacity. The Wolverines elected to go with the wider ice for two reasons: first, they thought it would look better to have more of the green field covered; second, they believed they were the better skating team, so the greater the ice surface, the more likely they’d win.
Unfortunately, the atmosphere was greater than the game itself. An often fierce rivalry has been downgraded this year because of Michigan’s obvious superiority. They sit in third place in the CCHA standings with a 9-3-1 record while the Spartans are near the bottom at 3-8-1.
The Wolverines were coached by Red Berenson, who once scored six goals in an NHL game and who has been coaching Michigan for the last 27 years. His lineup included 13 players who have been drafted into the NHL, notably Jon Merrill (by New Jersey) who scored the only two goals of the opening period and co-captain Carl Hagelin (New York Rangers) who scored the only goal of the second. The 22-year-old Hagelin, a native of Södertälje, Sweden, was the only European in the record-setting game. He finished with two goals and an assist.
The Spartans, meanwhile, had three players whose fathers skated in the NHL. Leading the way was Dean Chelios, son of 25-year veteran, Chris; Trevor Nill, son of Jim; and, Brett Perlini, son of Fred.
The original Cold War game featured what are now several famous names. In goal for Michigan State was current Buffalo Sabres’ goalie, Ryan Miller. Also on that team were Adam Hall, Duncan Keith, and John-Michael Liles.
Michigan’s lineup almost a decade ago included Mike Komisarek, Mike Cammalleri, Dwight Helminen, Eric Nystrom, and Jed Ortmeyer.
Shawn Hunwick earned the shutout for Michigan. He was slated to be the backup today but late in the warmup Bryan Hogan suffered a groin injury and couldn’t play.
March 5, 1957, World Championship, Lenin Stadium, Moscow (USSR), 55,000, Soviet Union 4-Sweden 4
October 6, 2001, NCAA, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing (USA), 74,554, Michigan State 3-Michigan 3
November 3, 2003, NHL, Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton (CAN), 57,167, Montreal 4-Edmonton 3
May 7, 2010, World Championship, Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen (GER) 77,803, Germany 2-United States 1
December 11, 2010, NCAA, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor (USA), 113,411, Michigan 5-Michigan State 0