MINNEAPOLIS- The fact the 2014 Hockey Classic was going to be announced at TCF Bank Stadium Tuesday did not come as much of a surprise for many. In fact, University of Minnesota officials jokingly called it the "best-kept secret" after months of rumors that the Gophers would play Ohio State outdoors swirled about.
However, there is still the matter - and excitement - of the Gopher women's hockey team.
The two-time defending national champions kick off the January 17th college hockey doubleheader against in-state rival Minnesota State. It's the first outdoor hockey game for the University of Minnesota women's program, who continues to play in the WCHA this season, after the men participated in the inaugural Hockey City Classic last year.
While the Hockey City Classic is not the first college outdoor game featuring women's teams - Wisconsin played Bemidji State at Camp Randall Stadium on February 6, 2010 and the Frozen Fenway series has had NCAA women's games; most recently Providence vs. Dartmouth in 2012 - the chance to play outside of Ridder Arena is not lost on Minnesota head coach Brad Frost.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to participate in this event. Our women's hockey program has never had an outdoor game; at least in the modern era here," Frost said Tuesday "So to be involved in this event and have it here in beautiful TCF Bank Stadium is going to be a huge thrill."
Frost was joined Tuesday by junior defenseman Rachel Ramsey and senior forward Bethany Brausen. For Ramsey, who played a high school game outdoors with Minnetonka (MN) in 2009, lacing up the skates to play outside is something she has already prepared before.
"You have to put with the cold," Ramsey said about the St. Paul game as part of Hockey Day Minnesota. "It was pouring snow and freezing, so it's a totally different mentality. It's not just preparing for the team you're playing. It's another level of mental toughness."
The Gophers know toughness given that the team is currently on a 49 game winning streak dating back to February 2012. That includes defeating Wisconsin for the NCAA Championship that year and completing the first undefeated season in NCAA women's hockey history this past season. Minnesota capped it off by beating Boston University 6-3 in front of 3,400 fans at Ridder Arena.
Playing at the 50,000 seat TCF Bank Stadium is not a surprise, however, it is something Frost believes is also special.
"There are only a few things as you go through your college career that really stick in your memory, that you'll remember for the rest of your life," he said. "This is one of those occasions.
"We're really looking forward to it."
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey reporter for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate