Experiences In The D | The Blog for Visit Detroit
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FAN-tastic Events: NHL Winter Classic and Hockeytown Winter Festival
Detroit will live up to its Hockeytown moniker next month as the host of the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™, an outdoor hockey extravaganza. The infield of the open-air Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers baseball team and the site of this historic soiree, will be transformed into a hockey rink that will showcase all levels of play. The festival precedes the highly anticipated Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® matchup between Original Six rivals the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Day at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
For our second official date, the guy who later became my husband wanted to take me somewhere special, so he brought me to see the Detroit Red Wings play. I had never been to a hockey game, but as my date shared his passion for the sport, I soon became a fan. It was the mid-1990s, just as the stars aligned and the Red Wings became the hottest franchise in the league. I jumped on the bandwagon in time to see our team capture four Stanley Cups over the course of 11 years. I have great memories of the city-wide adrenaline rush when the team won its first Stanley Cup in four decades and of watching subsequent victory parades down Woodward Avenue.
|Red Wings Goaltender Jimmy Howard|
So when the NHL announced the Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown, I marked the date in pen. It’s a rare chance to cheer for some of our favorite former players and coaches one more time — fittingly scheduled on New Year’s Eve, just hours before we sing Auld Lang Syne! Anticipation for the event has been building as the roster has grown.
While folks just across the border in Windsor, Ontario, may be torn up about which team to cheer for, my family will be sporting red and white that day. How often will you have Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Mickey Redmond, Brendan Shanahan, the “Russian Five”, Nicklas Lidstrom, Mike Vernon, Chris Osgood, Manny Legace, Scotty Bowman and many other hockey legends assembled in one place? In fact, there are such a large number of alumni participating, organizers had to plan a double header. Apparently, the alumni are equally excited to pull on their jerseys, reminisce with old teammates, and play outdoors at Comerica Park. To view the up-to-date alumni roster for both teams, click here.
A Celebration of All Things Hockey
The Alumni Showdown is the culmination of the five-day Hockeytown Winter Festival, which begins Dec. 27-28, 2013 with the Great Lakes Invitational. The college hockey tournament features matchups of Michigan Tech, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan.
The Ontario Hockey League will play on Dec. 29 followed by the American Hockey League on Dec. 30. For a full schedule, click here.
The Big Game at The Big House
The action will move to Ann Arbor for the NHL Winter Classic at the University of Michigan’s Michigan Stadium. The NHL has hosted the outdoor, New Years’ Day Winter Classic annually since 2008, providing fans a unique open-air hockey experience by playing in football or baseball stadiums. The Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Winter Classic was originally scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013, but was canceled due to the league’s labor dispute, so this is a game people have been waiting a year to see!
The crowd at this year’s game could potentially pass the world record for an ice hockey game (104,173), set in 2010 by spectators of the UM vs. MSU match, also at Michigan Stadium. Tickets for the Classic may be hard to come by at this point but if you can snag a pair, they would make exceptional stocking stuffers!
For full information, visit www.DetroitRedWings.com/2014WinterClassic.
Will you be at either the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic or the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival?
About the Author: Michelle Fusco is a metro Detroit-based freelance writer, soccer mom, hunting widow, bargain shopper and Red Wings fan.
Photo Credit: The Detroit Red Wings