This Saturday, Michigan will host Michigan State in an outdoor hockey game at its football stadium before an anticipated crowd of 113,000 people. For two hours, "The Big Chill," as the event is being called, will shove college hockey into an unusual spot: the center of the national sports discussion.
To optimists, there's some evidence this game could be college hockey's apotheosis: the moment it finally muscles up to the same table as its bigger siblings, basketball and football.
The Michigan athletic department sold nearly 80,000 tickets for the game on the first day of sales and the event has been essentially sold out since October. Thanks to the enormity of the crowd—it will shatter the attendance record for the number of people watching a hockey game by nearly 40,000—Michigan expects its hockey program to bring in more ticket revenue than basketball this season by a margin of more than $1 million.