Frozen Tundra provides lasting memory for all involved

first_imgMEGHAN CONLIN/Herald photoGREEN BAY — The Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic was billed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everyone involved. Now that the dust has settled, it is safe to say that the entire event lived up to its billing for the players, coaches, fans and everyone else involved.Though the game had a few minor snags along the way, one would be hard-pressed to find any one of the 40,000-plus in attendance — most of them Badger fans — that has less than a handful of stories to share throughout the rest of his or her life.”Unless you’re in that dressing room and you’re around the whole thing, you can’t describe it,” senior winger Adam Burish said after the game. “I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling yet.”For Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves, he will always remember thousands of crazy Badger fans jumping around at Lambeau Field — a mecca for most Wisconsinites. And they were not leaping wildly for the Badger football team, as they usually do at Camp Randall, but for his hockey team.”I’ll go back to ‘Jump Around.’ If you come to a football game, that’s what you notice,” Eaves said. “And I think just the energy of the people, the vastness of almost 41,000 people … the noise level was greater than I thought it would be.”For the Badgers themselves, they will remember playing outdoors and winning the first-ever hockey game at Lambeau. And beyond that, they will remember many of the little things that the fans didn’t see throughout the weekend.”The band was unbelievable, the facilities that the Packers put us up in were great, the dinner was great. I could go on and on,” Burish said. “Our stalls were cool in the locker room.”But perhaps most of all, the UW team will remember emulating the Green Bay Packers when they jumped into the stands and into the arms of many of the Badger faithful who were not ready to leave when the game had ended.”It’s one of those games you’re going to remember the rest of your life,” Wisconsin senior Ryan MacMurchy said. “It’s an experience … when are you ever going to get to do that? We’re not going to play for the Packers.”And while it may not have been the picture-perfect leap, it seemed like the perfect finish to an epic weekend.”We were perfect,” Burish said. “You know how John Madden diagrams where your hips have to be above the green [wall]? I think our guys’ hips were above [that].”It was also the perfect ending for the Badger faithful.Not only were they a part of history just by being at the game, but they also got to finish their Saturday off with a UW victory — and one that came on a rather comfortable February evening in northern Wisconsin.In the other locker room, despite the fact that the Buckeyes had just lost their third straight game, they were just as thrilled to have taken part in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.”It was amazing,” Ohio State assistant captain Sean Collins said. “You grow up playing outside when you’re a young kid, and to be able to play a game outside in front of that many fans, at Lambeau Field especially, was an amazing experience.”But the extent of the excitement surrounding the game reached much further beyond even the players, coaches and fans.The city of Green Bay benefited from the event. With the football season over, the Packer Country Visitor and Convention Bureau estimated this game would bring in roughly three-quarters of the money that an average Packer game brings in. While it may not seem like much, it’s money that would not have been available if it were not for the game.And there were even more players beyond the Badger and Buckeye benches that got to share in the limelight of playing in front of 40,890 fans. Robert Sandoval, who was one of about three dozen young players who got to play on the ice for five minutes between periods, had never dreamed of playing hockey at Lambeau Field.In fact, he was at a loss in trying to find a point in his young life in which to compare the experience.”This is better than a St. Norbert game,” Sandoval said, referring to a number of games he has seen at the local Division III school which is currently No. 1 in the D-III polls.It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone involved, though nobody would be too upset if they had the chance to do it again.The head coaches and players of each team said that they would like to be part of a similar experience again sometime down the road.”I’ll be back tomorrow,” Burish said when asked if he’d like to do it again.But the question fosters an interesting debate: Should the event be a one-time thing in an effort to keep it a special experience, or should there be a game like this once every few years?Everyone will have his or her own opinion, but whatever the case may be down the road, nothing will be able to take anything away from the first Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic.last_img

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