Amidst all the talk of future outdoor games for the University of Michigan, the Wolverines actually played in an outdoor game yesterday, on a Sunday afternoon in Cleveland for some reason. Michigan beat Ohio State 4-1 to win the Frozen Diamond Face-off.
I couldn't find an exact number, but estimated capacity for the rink at Cleveland's Progressive Field was about 40,000, and the official attendance number for yesterday's game was 25,864. It's far from a smashing success, but considering how poorly the event was planned--again I stress, Sunday afternoon in Cleveland--and promoted, it's not all that bad. According to Cleveland Indians president Mark Shapiro, the event made money.
In other outdoor hockey news, Wisconsin is in talks with Minnesota to host an outdoor game at Soldier Field next February. The game could also feature a double-header game between Notre Dame and Miami.
This would be Wisconsin's third crack at hosting an outdoor hockey game. The first two, held at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium weren't exactly flops, but also not smashing successes. Part of the problem with the Camp Randall game was the WCHA would not allow Wisconsin to schedule a conference game with Minnesota, forcing the Badgers to settle for scheduling a low-stakes non-conference game against Michigan(a lesson about the mundane quality of non-conference games not taken by anyone in college hockey this past summer). Being able to schedule Minnesota would go a long way towards making the Soldier Field game a success.
As for Notre Dame-Miami, both teams want to have a huge recruiting presence in the Chicago area and this would really help that. Notre Dame has also always struggled with getting their large alumni base interested in their hockey program, and this might be the opportunity to do that.
The end of the calendar year was supposed to be Minnesota State Moorhead's third ABSOLUTE LAST DEADLINE for raising the money needed to fund their hockey program. WDAY in Fargo-Moorhead reported last week that so far the Dragons only have $17 million out of the $37 million needed to start their program. That means they've only raised $2 million since first announcing their intentions in July. I guess they could extend the deadline again. The hope was to join the new WCHA once everyone else in the conference leaves in two years, but it's not like there's a bunch of other schools out there dying to get in to the WCHA, so a spot should remain open for them. They seem to have maxed out on what they can get in donations though, so it seems like any hopes of MSUM starting a program are pretty much dead now.
The World Olympic Games started this past Saturday with the US U16 team defeating Austria 7-2, and then losing to Canada 5-1. As expected, this has been a pretty entertaining tournament so far with most of the big hockey powers sending pretty good rosters. The US roster has a lot of the favorites to make next year's NTDP team. Canada's roster isn't quite their best team, but pretty close to it. Every association in Canada nominated a forward, defenseman, and goalie, and then a roster was picked randomly from that. It's as close to a best-on-best between the US and Canada in international play until the World Juniors.
That makes Canada's win pretty disappointing. It was a 3-1 game until Canada added a couple power play goals late. These games just have 15-minute periods as well. The US has games left against Finland and Russia, which should be difficult. Scoring totals by the end of this tournament should give a pretty good indication of who the top players in the '96 birth year are.