In the big picture, The Big Chill at The Big House was a tremendous success. A crowd of 113,411 filled the seats at Michigan Stadium to witness a hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State.
That’s the biggest audience in stadium history, surpassing the mark of 113,090 that watched this year’s football season opener versus Connecticut and checked out the newly renovated facilities.
It was the largest crowd to watch any sporting event in NCAA history.
The attendance obliterated the previous record for an outdoor hockey game, set in May of this year for the World Championships when 77,803 watched Germany play the United States.
And — oh, yes — the crowd set a Guinness World Record.
But though the event was all about, well, the event, all those thousands of people came to Michigan Stadium to watch a college hockey game. And in the small picture, Saturday’s game was a tremendous success for the Michigan hockey team.
The Wolverines are in a three-way battle for first place in the CCHA, and needed a win to keep pace with Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio). Losing to the second-to-last place team in the conference wouldn’t have helped matters. With that on the line, Michigan dominated their in-state rivals, shutting them out 5-0 in their first meeting of the 2010-11 season.
Putting an Olympic-sized ice rink down on the Michigan Stadium field allowed more space for the Wolverines to use their speed, and they took advantage of the opportunity. Defenseman Jon Merrill and forward Carl Hagelin both scored two goals for Michigan. Left wing David Wohlberg tallied the other score for the home team. Three of Michigan’s goals came on the power play.
Shawn Hunwick was a last-minute emergency starter in goal for Michigan. Bryan Hogan was originally named as the starter, but injured his groin during pre-game warm-ups. If Hunwick was at all unsettled by suddenly being told he was going to play, he certainly didn’t show it. The senior stopped all 34 shots he faced from the Spartans.
Michigan will be off until December 29 and a match-up with Michigan Tech in the annual Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena.