The outdoor hockey contest at Soldier Field in Chicago between longtime WCHA rivals Wisconsin and Minnesota has been finalized. At a press conference Wednesday on the 50 yard line of the stadium, organizers confirmed the double header between the Badgers and Gophers along with Notre Dame and Miami (OH).
The event will be Wisconsin's third outdoor hockey game of the modern era. The Badgers previously hosted games at Lambeau Field vs Ohio State in 2006, and at Camp Randall Stadium vs Michigan in 2010. The Badgers won both contests, and advanced to the Frozen Four both years.
The game is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 17th. Game times will be announced at a later date. Tickets will go on sale to the general public October 1st. Wisconsin hockey season ticket holders will have first crack at an earlier, yet to be released date.
Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves has long been a proponent of these types of events for his hockey program.
"To be able to play outdoor hockey at one of the most famous venues in the country, in Chicago, which is a great hockey town, will be a special event," Eaves said. "We've experienced these types of games in the past and they create memories that the student-athletes will be able to tell their grandkids about some day."
Wisconsin has recruited the Chicago area in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. The Badgers have future commitments from Jake Linhart, Seamus Malone, and Peter Tischke who are all elite players currently playing in the metro. UW is also in on a number of additional prospects from around the same area.
Current Badgers Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville, IL) and Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, IL) both grew up in the Chicago, and have voiced their excitement through twitter about how special playing against Minnesota at Soldier Field will be.
Simonelli was on hand to represent the Badgers at the press conference Wednesday and was glowing when speaking with the media.
"This is awesome, it's a dream come true. When we were kids, playing around with the neighborhood a couple people put rinks in their back yard, and you're with your friends and it's something you'll always remember," Simonelli said. "Playing on a stage at this level outdoors is going to be even that much better."
Adding into the excitement is that this contest for the Badgers comes against their most hated rival, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Simonelli noted that games against the Gophers always carry a little more weight.
"Every game we play against them is a big emotional game. We have a special place in our heart for games like those. To be playing here (Soldier Field), in front of all these fans, in this stadium, outside, I don't even know how to describe it yet, and I'm not sure I will be able to even after," Simonelli noted. "It's going to be a great experience, and one that we'll always remember."
The contest will be considered a home game for the Badgers, who are giving up a date at the Kohl Center for this event. Minnesota and Wisconsin will play Friday night at the Kohl Center, with a built in travel day Saturday before the border battle outdoor event on Sunday.
The outdoor game will mark the final regular season contest between Wisconsin and Minnesota as members of the WCHA. Both teams will be a part of the Big Ten Hockey Conference starting in 2013.
For information, including tickets sales, breaking news and schedule information, register for updates at: www.hockeycityclassic.com. You can also find information on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/HockeyCityClassic) and on Twitter (@HkyCityClassic). Tickets for the Hockey City Classic will go on sale to the general public on Oct. 1 through Ticketmaster.com.
Season ticket holders from the four participating universities, as well as Chicago Bears season ticket holders, will have the opportunity to purchase advance tickets in an exclusive presale. Once the presale information is finalized, each university and the Chicago Bears will communicate with their respective season ticket holders.
The four teams competing in the Hockey City Classic have a combined 36 Frozen Four appearances and 11 National Championship titles. Each year since 2008, at least one Hockey City Classic participant has made an appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four, including most recently: Minnesota in 2012, Notre Dame in 2011 and both Wisconsin and Miami in 2010. The Hockey City Classic will be the first outdoor game in the modern era for three of the four participants - Miami, Minnesota and Notre Dame.
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