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"Cold War" cracks attendance record
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Oktober 12, 2001; 00:40
"Cold War" cracks attendance record
Michigan State and Michigan play to a draw in front of 74,554
Frank Johne

 


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Munich, Germany - Two of US college ice hockey's most prestigious programs took to hockey's largest stage last Saturday, October 6. No. 4-ranked Michigan and No. 1 Michigan State skated to a 3-3 tie in front of a crowd of 74,554 fans at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan/USA in what had been deemed the state's Cold War. The game broke a 41-year-old world attendance record for ice hockey and was played outdoors in temperatures below freezing-point.
 


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(as of Feb 19, 2005)

The old mark was an estimated crowd of 55,000 spectators at the 1957 IIHF World Championships in Moscow's Lenin Stadium, where the Soviet Union played Sweden to a 4-4 draw on March 5, 1957.
The largest crowd in North America to watch a hockey game was 28,183 when the Philadelphia Flyers played the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 1996 NHL playoff game at Tropicana Field, usually home to Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Last-gasp goal forces overtime

When Michigan State's Jim Slater scored with 47 seconds left to force overtime, fans bundled up in winter coats, hats and gloves jumped out of their seats and fire shot out of black boxes around the portable rink. Mike Cammalleri's second goal with 8:48 remaining had given Michigan a 3-2 lead. Both teams had their chances in overtime, but neither could convert.
“The ice was extremely fast,” said Michigan State’s Adam Hall, who scored the first goal of the night. “The puck was gliding pretty smooth too. But the wind was a factor. When you were skating, you could really feel the gusts.”

”This could be a breakthrough”

“I thought I had seen everything in hockey,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson, a former NHL star, who had played outdoor hockey with Team Canada in Europe during the late 50’s. “This couldn't have turned out better,” he added. "Once the puck dropped it was a hockey game. It was a great game and a different, unusual setting. This could be a breakthrough game for the sport of ice hockey."

The Michigan State Spartans (East Lansing) versus Michigan Wolverines (Ann Arbor) rivalry is one of the oldest in the game of hockey. The first-ever match up between the schools took place on January 11, 1922. The game at Spartans Stadium was the 238th hockey meeting between the two universities.

Spartans spent about $600,000

Many made fun of the idea when Michigan State first brought it up last spring. Some thought the university would be lucky if 30,000 people showed up.

The event cost the Spartans about $600,000. They began to install a portable ice rink on the football pitch a week before the game. Metal pipes filled with glycol, a freezing agent, kept the ice frozen above aluminum panels, which were placed above layers of plywood.

Red Wings aiming for the record?

Officials from Wisconsin and the Detroit Red Wings attended the game because they would like to stage a similar event. Wisconsin would have a chance to break the attendance record at Camp Randall Stadium, which has a capacity of 76,129. The Red Wings may look into playing in downtown Detroit at Ford Field, the new home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, which is expected to be completed next year.

"I think it's the coolest thing I've ever seen," said Carrie Bochenek, a Michigan State student who was selling programs in the stands. "I thought I wouldn't be able to see, but it was awesome."

Hall of Famer Gordie Howe dropped the puck in a ceremonial faceoff. Moments later, hundreds of cameras flashed to capture the moment of the official faceoff as the sun dipped out of sight. “It's beautiful to be a part of this,” Howe said. “Somebody had a great deal of imagination to come up with this idea.'”
Frank Johne

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