Friday, June 06, 2008


In 2006, the Wisconsin men's hockey team beat Ohio State 4-1 at Lambeau Field. It was an immensely successful and, by all accounts, enjoyable event.

With the positive attention the NHL got for their Winter Classic game New Year's Day in Buffalo, it seemed obvious that someone in college hockey would try to capitalize on the gimmick before it became old hat. This is especially true when you consider that the NHL is already making plans for another outdoor game this winter.

College hockey appears poised to pounce, and there is no better rivalry to do it with than Gophers-Badgers.

Talks are under way that could result in the Badgers playing Minnesota in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at Camp Randall Stadium instead of the Kohl Center next season.

Representatives from the UW Athletic Department and the Herb Brooks Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the Twin Cities, have been discussing an outdoor matchup of the two long-time rivals for months.

...Many hurdles have to be cleared -- including approval from WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, finances and scheduling logistics -- before UW can host the third outdoor game involving major colleges since 2001.

But sources indicate there is considerable interest from both schools and a meeting of the pertinent organizing parties is tentatively scheduled for later this month.

I'm obviously biased as a WCHA guy and a Wisconsin football fan, but you can't ask for a better venue to hold an event like this than Camp Randall. I am speculating here, but it stands to reason you could configure Camp Randall to hold 50,000 or more fans for this event, and I would also go out on a limb and say that McLeod isn't passing up this chance.

You can bank on the WCHA approving this in a heartbeat, provided the finances are taken care of, and assurances are made that the athletes won't be running an unnecessary risk playing in the game.

Wisconsin has the best hockey fans in the country, and I don't see anything negative about allowing another 35,000 or so of them the chance to partake in a special event.

You always worry about gimmick overkill, but that's a bridge that won't get burned for some time. The WCHA needs to make sure this happens, as it would be great for the league, the schools, and the under-covered sport of college hockey.

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