The Hockey City Classic is reportedly returning to Chicago's Soldier Field with some familiar teams returning outdoors.
Both Michigan & Michigan State and Western Michigan & Miami are set to play a doubleheader February 7, 2015 for the HCC's third annual iteration, according Monday to Danny Ecker of Crain's Chicago Business and other media reports.
None of the teams are strangers to outdoor hockey. This would be Michigan's seventh game outdoors in the elements since 2001 - sixth(!?!) since 2010 - and fourth against the Spartans. Three of the four participated in the GLI outdoors at Detroit's Comerica Park last December; a tournament the Broncos won.
The fourth, Miami, played in Chicago as part of the Hockey City Classic's inaugural edition back in 2013. There the RedHawks fell 2-1 to Notre Dame in a CCHA contest while the other half of the doubleheader saw Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 3-2 in a WCHA conference game. Soldier Field drew an announced crowd of 52,051. However, the total was combined for the two games. Few stayed for both with Fighting Irish/Miami and Badger/Minnesota fans passing each other in and out of the stadium between games like ships in the night.
Last year's Hockey City Classic was played at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. 45,021 fans braved single digit temperatures alongside improved ice conditions to see the Gopher women shut out Minnesota State and the men do the same to Ohio State.
The February 7th date matches up with all four teams' schedule. Both Michigan Big Ten teams are currently scheduled to play a two-game series in Ann Arbor spread across two weekends (Friday January 30th, 2015 and February 7th). Miami and Western Michigan play one another in Kalamazoo January 30-31. Each NCHC squads, however, are idle the following weekend.
Soldier Field would join Fifth Third Ballpark in Toledo, Ohio, which will see Bowling Green and Robert Morris play January 3rd, as outdoor hockey hosts during the 2014-15 college hockey season.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate