Monday, January 16, 2012

Frozen Diamond Faceoff - Pay Attention NHL

Third Period Faceoff in Progressive Field (fka Jacobs Field)
Thanks to my buddy Mike, a Tribe season ticket holder, I got a chance to attend the Frozen Diamond Faceoff, and outdoor hockey game matching the Ohio State University and Michigan University college hockey teams.  A powerful Michigan squad that is finding its stride beat a sagging OSU (not Ohio) 4-1.  OSU is experiencing a speed bump after a very hot start.

It was a great night for hockey, with game time temperatures in the high 20's and lots of sun.  A vibrant crowd of about 20,000 was in attendance for the first outdoor hockey game in Ohio.

We got a chance to join the crew from Light the Lamp as they enjoyed the sunny weather, tailgating outside of the restaurant before coming in to join in the pregame festivities.

Progressive Field was a really nice venue.  This view down 3rd base line.
Michigan scored two goals in each of the first and second periods, and really carried the play for most of the game.  Not that surprising when a veteran team with something to prove against a young team, but the lessons learned should help Ohio State in the long run.

Progressive Field down the first base line, showing awesome seating.
One of the points I wanted to make was to the NHL, as they ponder what to do with the Winter Classic next year.  It pretty much is looking like a match up of the Detroit Redwings and the Toronto Maple Leafs somewhere in Detroit.  You have to admit that this sounds like a really good match up for the game, and should get good interest from Canada as well as in the US.

The debate at present is whether to have the game in Michigan Stadium, or in Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers.  While the notion of packing 100,000 hockey fans into the Big House has to be an attraction to the NHL, most people would have a terrible view of the game.  That's a big stadium, with no upper deck, and people in the upper reaches would have no chance of being able to follow the puck.  On the other hand, a baseball stadium is more likely to be able to put more people close to the action, and well able to see the game.  In that regard, I think the NHL would be better off to listen to the Wings owner, and put the game in Comerica Park.  It has a chance of being a better game to watch for those who come to the game.  Also, a packed Comerica Park would be better than having a partially filled 'Big House'.
Script Ohio on Ice
This event was good for hockey in Ohio.  It was a well chosen location and match up, and it made for a good time.  Local, Collegiate, and NHL officials should recognize that the saturation point and relative novelty of this type of game is relatively low.  I attended the "Frozen Tundra Classic" when OSU played Wisconsin at Lambeau field.  I was excited to attend the Frozen Diamond Faceoff several years later.  I do not know for sure if I would go to this type of event every year.  That said, the 'Shoe would be a dynamite location for one of these types of games.  Just sayin'.

The experience gained in this event should help the young OSU squad down the road as the CCHA season comes to a close, and the road to the Frozen Four continues.  Best of luck to them.

And of course, lest we forget what this blog is all about,  GO JACKETS!!


  1. While not entirely related to the Winter Classic (that is to say, the NHL knows what they're doing), I was not pleased with the seating/viewing arrangements yesterday in Cleveland. Over on the 3rd base line, on the lower level (toward the giant slide), the seats are so far from the rink and so low that you simply cannot see the ice. That's unfortunately where I was placed, so I spent a fair portion of the 1st period wandering to the (fairly unpopulated) upper levels so I could watch the game. If it was set up like in Philly, Boston or Chicago, the rink would have been from 1st to 3rd base across the width of the diamond and my spot would have been excellent.

    Now I can understand your concern about viewing the puck from a faraway spot in the Big House, but I sincerely believe that football stadiums are (in general) better suited for an outdoor hockey game. The setup is similar enough to sheet of ice (oval-ish) that at least those in the "bad" seats can still have good sightlines for the action, even if the puck is small. And having seen the images from the Big Chill at the Big House in 2010? I'd totally want to be there even though I'm not a Wings/Leafs/Michigan fan.

  2. zekebud - I take your point. We had outstanding seats in the first row of the upper deck. Thanks for sharing the comments!


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