2014 Hockey City Classic: Steve Rohlik - "It'd be pretty special" for Ohio State to host an outdoor game

Gregory Shamus

Ohio State has played in three outdoor games since 2006 yet none were in Columbus.

MINNEAPOLIS- With the 2014 Hockey City Classic in the books now after a 1-0 Minnesota win over Ohio State on a Taylor Cammarata (New York Islanders draft pick) goal, the question turns to the next one. The first large scale outdoor hockey game in the state of Minnesota saw 45,021 fans brave the elements and single digit temperatures at TCF Bank Stadium.

If Buckeyes head coach Steve Rohlik had his way, Columbus would be in the mix for an outdoor game.

"We've talked about it," he said. "It'd be pretty special. Hopefully someday our people down (in Columbus) would like to do something like this."

Ohio State has participated in three outdoor games since 2006, but none were in Columbus. The closest, a 4-1 loss to Michigan in 2012, was played in Cleveland; midway between the two schools.

Ohio Stadium seats 102,339, but the "Horseshoe" has seen larger crowds for Buckeyes football.

"A 108,000 seat stadium down there would be pretty incredible," Rohlik said.

Although Friday night's game was slow at times and players were focused more upon defensive responsibilities in addition to the cold, the ice held up well. However, the elements did effect players being able to do some of the normal things they do indoors in terms of puck movement and made things slightly more difficult.

Still, none of the four teams playing Friday (prior to Minnesota-OSU the Gopher women's team shut out Minnesota State 4-0) had a problem with the conditions, which included heated benches, besides one of the doors sticking open. It's a far cry from last year's Hockey City Classic in Chicago where temperatures in the 20s and 30s caused the ice to turn slushy, and in outdoor games elsewhere with wind and/or warm temperatures.

For Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, whose team has played in two outdoor games in a span of 11 months, the second major outdoor game in Minnesota should go to the NHL team.

"I think we'll wait for a while now," he said. " This is something that is special to be a part of it, but I think you can do it too much. Quite frankly the next team that deserves to play this game is the Wild. I think that our fans would really embrace that, and that hopefully the NHL will come here.

"I think TCF is a great place to host it. The sightlines are pretty good in a football stadium."

His players enjoyed a welcome fit for the football team, as did the fans. Lucia mentioned prior to the game taking pictures with tailgaters on the walk between Mariucci Arena and the Gophers' temporary home Friday. However, so much so soon can be too much of a good thing.

That hasn't been the case for Ohio State. Despite losing to the top-ranked Gophers in spite of getting 26 saves from freshman goalie Matt Tomkins (Chicago Blackhawks), the Buckeyes players had a positive experience looking around and saying "wow" to an outdoor atmosphere and full TCF Bank Stadium.

"Like Coach said it was an unbelievable atmosphere. I'm just thankful to be a part of it," said Ohio State forward Ryan Dzingel (Ottawa Senators). "To have a venue like that and an experience like that was incredible."

At the end of the day, it's a feeling Ohio State would like to share with its own fans.

"We had a chance to come here (to Minneapolis) and play against the #1 team in the country, in a venue like this in front of 40,000 people, and show people that we do have hockey down in Columbus. We're certainly proud to be a part of the Big Ten now," said Rohlik. "I think our guys were real excited. (Thursday) was a lot of fun to get out on the rink and practice.

"It was a lot of fun."

--

Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter --

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