Red Berenson Big Chill Press Conference Comment Count

Tim December 7th, 2010 at 5:04 PM


Outdoor History and The Big Chill

Players have probably never played in serious games outdoors. Red grew up playing 90% of his games on outdoor rinks. They'd have to deal with the elements, shovel the rink, etc. "It was a great way to grow up." The players have probably played only one game (last year @ Wisconsin) outdoors.

Red played in Oslo in 1959 for the Canadian team. Outdoor stadium, about 20k people. Helsinki and Stockholm after. They didn't have indoor rinks, they'd always play outside. Great venues. as a 19-year old, he played some. "Now we get a chance to play some of the biggest games in my recent tenure."

The Michigan team had concerns about playing outside 10 years ago at Spartan Stadium. There was rain during their scheduled ice time the night before, so they skated inside instead. Skated morning of the game instead, and conditions were perfect. They had a big freshman class with Nystrom, Gajic, et al. Camalleri was hurt that week and wasn't supposed to play, but he insisted on it and was the team's MVP of that game.

After the Cold War, were they thinking about playing at Michigan Stadium? "We talked about whether that could happen here." after playing at MSU outside. Red definitely supported if the AD wanted to go for an outdoor game. That decision was just made in the last couple years "it wasn't like that question was lingering."

Finalized in January, Seamless work by the AD. "When you think about all the things that go into this... it's a lot of commitment." Outdoor games in football stadiums are positive. The NHL doing outside games has helped the process go smoother and smoother with more practice. "These are great events."

"I've pretty much stayed out of the ice quality business." Red only worries about the water that goes in - the guys dealing with the rink are pros. There are 75-100 different inuit words for quality of ice. "I just skate on it, so I'm not worried about it." This is "outdoor-indoor" ice. Playing on an indoor rink with pumped water and artificial freezing, but doing it outside.

"I was so impressed with the whole Michigan family" in selling out such a big stadium. People are coming in from all over "but the Michigan people are the ones that snapped up the tickets." MSU sent tickets back because they didn't sell them, it should be 90-95% Michigan fans. Tickets were bought in summer: "People were excited about an outdoor hockey game in July," and that's special.

The Team

"We've been waiting for this and looking forward to it, and now we can say it's our next game, so we don't have to try and keep it off in the distance and worry about current games." Can't pretend it's not going to happen if you're worried about focus. Doesn't think it's been a problem.

The thrill of playing outside will be out of the way quickly, guys will have to just adjust to wind conditions, it'll be cold, there are tons of fans. All that can be a factor. The crowd: "I don't think they'll overreact to it, but they'll feel it." There's no motivation issues playing in front of 100k. "It'll be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the guys that are playing." Hoping to give the fans something to cheer about.

The players will skate outside on their own today, they'll practice outside Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri. Part of that is getting used to the Olympic-sized ice.

"The college sports spirit" is what made this event so big. It's a tribute to college hockey that this is a big deal. "We'll see down the road" if this big event can boost the profile of college hockey.

Goalie situation: "We'll definitely sit down this week, we'll look at the wins and losses and where they played and how they played, and experience and so on and so forth" and play one goalie, unless they get an opportunity with a big lead. "You'd do that more in an exhibition game. This is not an exhibition game." It was the same story at Wisconsin last year: they played to win the game. "We can't take it lightly and we won't."



December 7th, 2010 at 5:12 PM ^

I cannot wait for Saturday, but Red was probably right when saying people were getting excited in July. I always underestimate how cold an outdoor stadium is in November, much less mid-December. Oh well, I'm sure I can find a way to stay warm.


December 7th, 2010 at 6:36 PM ^

That's so cool that you've been to all three. I've played hockey basically my whole life and have never witnessed an outdoor game. It should be cold though, but like I said, well worth sucking it up to witness Sparty get beat down in person.


December 7th, 2010 at 9:35 PM ^

Seat for the Cold War weren't that bad (just inside the blue line) but my seats at Camp Randall could hardly have been worse.  At least I was there and didn't freeze too badly.  I'm just so excited for Saturday, nevermind that my seats are probably too low and right on the goal line, so I won't see well.  Outdoor hockey is a blast, and that's what matters.


December 7th, 2010 at 5:25 PM ^

No. 2-ranked basketball team is playing at The Palace in Auburn Hills earlier in the day. Hockey team will probably lose.

Warm in the Palace, cold outside. Do the math. Not excusing them, because it is (possbily) a once-in-a-lifetime event, but the mojo is more with hoops than hockey for them.


December 7th, 2010 at 6:05 PM ^

It's not just the MSU hockey fans. According to the ESPN box scores for the MSU home games, only two were sold out—the home opener against Western, and the ND game. None of the rest, including, bizarrely, the Wisconsin game, were sellouts. Not even the final home game against Purdue, which was an important game for MSU in terms of the conference race, was a sellout.

I don't get it, considering the yammering and chest-beating that goes on in Spartyville. Looks like it's a lot of talk.


December 7th, 2010 at 5:23 PM ^

" MSU sent tickets back because they didn't sell them, it should be 90-95% Michigan fans."

Wow, that is pathetic.  They couldn't sell tickets to this?  I have 40 people in my group, and I can't wait for Saturday!  GO BLUE!

st barth

December 7th, 2010 at 6:00 PM ^

I'm not as old as Red, but I also grew up playing outdoors.  Neighborhood kids played a lot of hockey on large puddles in the nearby farm fields.  We used to freeze our asses off but still would play until sunset.

Worst part was the lack of boards.  If there wasn't any snow to use to build up an edge around the rink, then when you shot the puck it could travel forever sometimes and you then had to go chase it down.  Made us think twice about just launching random shots.

Frankly, I've never understood why any hockey games were played indoors.  In fact, I don't understand why most basketball games are player indoors either.  We used to cut the fingers off our gloves and play bball outdoors too until the snow/ice overwhelmed the court.

Damn, I sound old.


December 7th, 2010 at 9:43 PM ^

We played on the lake.  I remember one year we lost quite a few pucks because we had no snow to keep the pucks on our rink and they'd go through where the ice edge was (river runs through the lake) and Dad was our hero.  He put on his waders (in FEBRUARY) and went out and rescued pucks from the edge where they'd all fallen in.  He found 12 of the missing 17 pucks.


December 9th, 2010 at 1:28 AM ^

My dad is in the lumber industry and he used to build boards on the bay behind my house. Every year he would build a regulation size rink and nets that would often fall into the bay if we didn't grab them before the ice melted.  

So much fun and probably why I can kick most boys butts on skates. 

Sgt. Wolverine

December 7th, 2010 at 6:18 PM ^

They should be embarrassed.  Of course, if they weren't embarrassed by their pathetic showing in Munn during last year's CCHA tournament, then I guess nothing could embarrass them.


December 8th, 2010 at 2:13 AM ^

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Yard Dog

December 8th, 2010 at 11:21 AM ^

and of course no one but UM would do such a great job getting this put together.

I went to a junior game there on Sunday, and the venue is just unreal.  We were on the field standing on a platform on the corner of the rink, and spent all our time between periods and whistles looking up and around the stadium.  I cannot imagine how incredible an atmosphere this will be on Saturday.  To put it in perspective, my wife, who is not a hockey fan at all, was hacked that I did not get tickets for the Big Chill after being there Sunday and seeing how really cool it would be to attend.


December 8th, 2010 at 11:55 AM ^

...previous thread that the pregame festivities include a B-2 flyover.  According to my U-M flyover source:

B-2 is confirmed wx dependent

If you've never seen a B-2 in flight, it's a surreal sight. I know I'm looking forward to this part of The Big Chill.