Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings meet in the annual outdoor clash.
A record crowd of more than 106,000 people is expected for Wednesday’s National Hockey League Winter Classic matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium.
Two of the NHL’s oldest teams were slated to meet on New Year’s Day 2013 in the annual outdoor contest but that event was called off because of a money dispute between NHL club owners and players that shortened last season.
Cold conditions are predicted and possible light snow is in the forecast at suburban Ann Arbor in the home venue of the University of Michigan’s American football team, known as “The Big House.”
The highest recorded attendance in ice hockey history was the outdoor game staged at the same stadium on December 11, 2010 when 104,173 people watched Michigan beat collegiate rival Michigan State 5-0 in what was dubbed “The Big Chill at the Big House.”
The largest attendance for an NHL game was 71,217 at the home stadium of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills for the 2008 Winter Classic when Pittburgh beat Buffalo 2-1.
“The NHL has come in and taken it to a whole other level,” said University of Michigan associate athletic director of facilities and operations Rob Rademacher.
“They have described it as their Super Bowl.”
The teams involved are long-standing rivals and both are in playoff positions in the Eastern Conference as the NHL season nears its midpoint.