March 3, 2011 - 4:27pm
BY STEPHEN J. NESBITT
The No. 12 Michigan hockey team had its first practice at Michigan Stadium on Monday, participating in an intrasquad scrimmage to kick off Big Chill week in Ann Arbor.
Each player had a slightly different experience, stepping onto the football field, over the boards and onto the ice.
“First of all, the tunnel is pretty steep, so by the time I was at the bottom, I was at a full-out run,” 5-foot-8 senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick joked after practice.
Outside an outdoor clash with Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin last season, most of the players have never played a competitive game outside. But the snowflakes and biting wind that blew through the Big House on Monday brought back some memories of pond hockey.
“You feel like a kid again,” senior forward Carl Hagelin said. “You love the game so much, and when you come out of the tunnel, you love it even more. Everyone is taken back to when they were a young kid skating on the pond.”
Several players cited the wind as a factor, mentioning that it could be a big help when playing with the wind, and a major hindrance when skating against it.
“I think the wind is the biggest factor,” senior forward Matt Rust said “You can definitely tell a difference between when you're shooting into the wind versus with the wind.”
Added Hagelin: “If you’re on the ice, it doesn’t feel that bad. It feels you could skate forever … When you’re on the bench, I feel that if you stand up and move your legs, you’ll be fine.”
The Wolverines will hold regimented outdoor practice all this week, in preparation for the Big Chill on Saturday afternoon.