With the success of the NHL’s Winter Classic, outdoor hockey has been all the rage lately. Ever since hosting the 3rd Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers, Fenway Park has held an annual event called “Frozen Fenway”, an event that features area college hockey teams playing games at the ballpark. They even built a 20 foot sledding hill for this year’s event.
A professional outdoor game was played right here in Connecticut in 2012 when the AHL’s Connecticut Whale hosted the Providence Bruins at Rentschler Field. The “Whale Bowl” also featured the Army Black Knights play a game against American International College, and also had an alumni game between former players of the Hartford Whalers and Boston Bruins. The alumni game drew 10,000 fans alone, and while 21,600 tickets were sold for the AHL game, but only about 15,000 people showed up because of how cold it was that day. I know, because I was there.
This year, not only is the NHL holding their now annual outdoor games of the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic, but the league is holding a Stadium Series. Four games, three different venues, featuring seven teams. The first game takes place on Saturday between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings, at Dodger Stadium. Games 2 and 3 while be held at Yankee Stadium, between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers on Sunday, then next Wednesday the Rangers will play the New York Islanders. The fourth and final game of the series is the Chicago Balckhawks hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field.
With the popularity of outdoor games, plus the fact there is no NHL All-Star Game due to the Winter Olympics, this is a no-brainer for the NHL. Not one hockey fan will complain about more outdoor games. But it got me thinking, why can’t there be more outdoor hockey games right here in Connecticut? Connecticut is rich in hockey history, especially now with the recent NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship game featuring Yale and Quinnipiac. Even high school hockey has deep roots in Connecticut.
Yale just recently played Harvard at Madison Square Garden in the inaugural “Rivalry on Ice” game. When are we going to see a rink set up at Yale Bowl for a Yale/Quinnipiac game? The Yale Bowl is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and what could be cooler (no pun intended) than packing the Bowl for a hockey game? I know I would definitely go, and I’m sure that the event would sell out. Hell, when was the last time an event at Yale Bowl was sold out? Not even the Yale/Harvard football game fills the Bowl these days. It’s a money-maker for Yale and Yale’s about money, so why has this not happened?
Imagine a hockey game here?
What about an outdoor high school hockey festival? People would flock to an event like this similar to the swallows of Capistrano. High school hockey goes way back in this state, with West Haven High’s boys’ hockey team is celebrating its 80th anniversary this season. With historic rivalries with Hamden, Fairfield Prep, and Notre Dame of West Haven, there’s your 4 team festival right there.
Something of this nature would take a few years to happen, but I can say that a phone call has been made to try and get this off the ground, or maybe I should say “on the ground”. That’s all I can say about that, but stayed tuned.
Sources; Wikipedia, NHL.com