After their hopes of an outdoor game at TCF Bank Stadium last season fell through, the Gophers will get a chance to play outside after all this coming season. But it will be at a neutral site far from home.
The Gophers will face Wisconsin in a WCHA game on Sunday, Feb. 17 at Soldier Field, home of the NFL's Chicago Bears, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The game will be part of a college hockey doubleheader. Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio) will probably meet in a CCHA game, although that has not been officially confirmed yet.
Sophomore forward Mark Zengerle, the Badgers leading scorer with 50 points this past season, is excited about the news. He tweeted: "Outdoor game at Soldier Field vs minny is official for next year!! #letsgooooo #hurryupseason"
The Gophers will play the Badgers on Friday, Feb. 15 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., as previously announced, then presumably travel to Chicago and practice at the outdoor rink the next day to prepare for the game.
The Badgers are 2-0 in outdoor games in February before large crowds. Wisconsin beat Ohio State 4-2 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay in 2006 in front of 40,890 fans and defeated Michigan 3-2 at home at Camp Randall in 2010 before 55,031.
Soldier Field seats 61,500 for football.
The outdoor game will have some historic significance, too. It will be the last regular-season meeting between the Gophers and Badgers in the WCHA. Both will join the Big Ten Conference for the 2013-14 season.
The Big Ten Conference will start with just six teams: two from the WCHA, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State from the CCHA and Penn State, which is starting a Division I program in 2012-13.