It was announced this summer that the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Washington Capitals at Heinz field for the 2011 Winter Classic. As this will be Sidney Crosby (and the Penguins) 2nd trip to the Winter Classic in the short 4 year history of the spectacle, many hockey fans are upset that the other 25 NHL teams did not get a chance at the excitement. However, I suppose the chance to highlight the Crosby/ Ovechkin rivalry would be too much for the NHL to pass up. The game most certainly will have a lot of hype and a lot of star power, but it is unfortunate that the Penguins will be playing again and that the game has stayed on the East coast.
The Bleacher Report listed several reasons why Minnesota would be the perfect place for the Winter Classic. Among them are:
- In MN, hockey is not just a sport, its an institution.
- Rinks are littered all over the state, even in backyards.
- More Minnesotans have worn NHL jerseys than players from any other state.
- High School State Hockey Championships at the Xcel
- Hockey-crazed fans.
- List goes on...
Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leopold has already made it well known that he is actively pursing the Winter Classic for Minnesota. Several websites are also assuming that a Winter Classic game in Minnesota would likely include an outdoor NCAA college hockey game. (Much like how last year's venue at Fenway included a Friday night game under the lights between Boston College and Boston University.) The big question then for college hockey fans would be who would play in this game? Unfortunately, it is likely a foregone conclusion that the University of Minnesota will be playing in the game. However, who would play as their opponent? I have read that some believe all MN Div. 1 college hockey teams should play. My assumption is that there would be one game and my assumption (and hope) would be that it would be St. Cloud State. Some reasons:
- Last years record and early predictions for next year suggest St. Cloud State is the BEST college hockey team in Minnesota.
- The rivalry between Minnesota and St. Cloud is one of the best (if not the best) rivalry in the WCHA.
- The location (the Gophers and the Huskies are the two teams closest to the Twin Cities)
- The U of M is Minnesota's largest university... St. Cloud State is Minnesota's second largest university.
What do you think? Should the Winter Classic be held in Minnesota soon, will there be a college hockey game? If so, who will play? Why?