March 3, 2011 - 4:28pm
BY CASANDRA PAGNI
With The Big Chill at the Big House game against CCHA rival Michigan State only nine days away, Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson skated on the finished rink for the first time Thursday afternoon.
"It's not like something that I envisioned until they announced it ... last January," Berenson said. "And then you start thinking about it. You have to see it. Watching it on the internet, I came down when they first put the rubber down, and they were putting the plywood down, but once they got the ice in and the boards, and now its painted. It looks like they just brought it in and dropped it in here. Its pretty special."
Berenson skated around for media and photo opportunities Thursday afternoon and said that he was pleased with the feel of the ice so far. A full slate of games will be played on the ice this weekend and the Michigan hockey team will practice on it early next week. Each time the ice is skated on before the main event next Saturday will help smooth out any creases and help highlight any parts of the surface that might need fixing.
"Usually when you skate on outdoor ice, its lumpy and it cracks easy," Berenson said. "I'm impressed that this isn't all cracking. But these guys know what they're doing. They've broken the ice, they've redone it ... this is good ice. There might be some ice issues depending on weather and usage and everything, but you've got a lot of people that know what they're doing here."
The Wolverines have played in two outdoor games in recent history, one against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in 2001, and one against Wisconsin at Camp Randall last season.
When asked about the differences between the Big Chill and the other outdoor games in recent history, Berenson noted: "The big difference is this is our game. ... This is special. This is Michigan, it should be the biggest and it should be the best."
From shooting off fireworks after each Michigan goal to making sure there is a Guinness World Records representative present to record the event as the largest hockey game ever, the Wolverines are pulling out all the stops for the Big Chill.