Are the Gophers preparing to announce plans for an outdoor hockey game?


Credit: Jacob Dunn

There’s no better escape from the heat and humidity than fast-forwarding your mind to Minnesota in January, when students at the University of Minnesota take tunnels between classes to avoid the cold.

On Wednesday night, Gopher hockey fans had real reasons to look forward to January as Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press gave the first indication that an outdoor hockey game for the Gophers will likely be announced very soon.

Walters doesn’t say what year it’s being planned for, but it’s worth noting that in 2014-15, the Minnesota Vikings will play on campus as their new stadium is being built downtown.

If Walter’s is correct (and there’s no reason to believe he’s not) it would be the first home outdoor hockey game for Minnesota in the modern era. The Gopher men’s team played their first outdoor game on the road this past February at Solider Field in Chicago in the Hockey City Classic.

This news has been expected for some time, especially following the outdoor game in Chicago which was attended by university president Eric Kaler. There was even chatter about hosting a doubleheader with the Minnesota Wild who are also aggressively pursuing the NHL’s Winter Classic.

While the Winter Classic locations are set through 2014, it doesn’t close the door yet on a doubleheader in January, at least in speculation.

Further speculation suggests that a January hockey game would coincide with Hockey Day Minnesota, which is usually scheduled in the third week of January for the past seven years.

No doubt it would be a treat for the fans if both the Gophers and Wild played back-to-back on the sacred holiday. With the Wild, the wish would be a matchup with the Dallas Stars, but it will be interesting for the Gophers to see who their matching up with especially as next year will be the inaugural year of the Big Ten hockey conference.

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