Fans embrace the hockey, cold at TCF Bank Stadium

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 18, 2014 - 6:38 AM

The long walk to the ice gave the Gophers plenty of time to soak it all in.

As the frigid air pierced the players’ skin, TCF Bank Stadium erupted in a roar. It got louder as they walked down the 75-foot pathway surrounded by snow.

Their destination was the 200- by 85-foot ice rink at the center of what is usually a football field. The stadium never had looked so good to the Gophers and the announced 45,021 fans not afraid of the cold.

Everything was perfect for the first outdoor Gophers hockey game in more than 80 years Friday night under the lights. The Hockey City Classic delivered what it promised with the largest crowd to ever see hockey in Minnesota filling the stadium.

The result for the state of hockey was just as good: Gophers 1, Ohio State 0.

“That was pretty special. We felt like the football team out there when they get huge crowds,” said Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox, who recorded his third shutout of the season with 21 saves. “You expect that from Minnesota fans being tough up north. I know the team was really excited to get 45,000 fans. … I got lucky to be the goalie and get to go out [on the ice] first. There's not a feeling like that.”

Taylor Cammarata was credited with the lone goal at 4 minutes, 20 seconds of the second period, assisted by Kyle Rau and Justin Holl. The only offense was aided by Ohio State goaltender Matt Tomkins, though.

Rau fed Cammarata on a rush and the freshman’s attempt had just enough on it to get behind Tomkins. The puck didn’t pass the goal line, but got away as he reached for it and crossed the line.

Fans stood and bounced for most the game attempting to keep warm. At the end of the second period it was 6 degrees and felt like minus-3.

The players were trailed by their breathing clouds and their spit froze as it hit the ice.

Conditions on the heated and cooled surfaces were good. The speed of the game wasn’t affected and the hits into the board were just as loud. The glass and boards rattled more after each hit.

Players from both teams stood instead of sitting on the heated benches. The coaches’ faces scrunched as the cold air pierced their only exposed skin.

Shots, goals and penalties replaced yards and downs on the stadium’s ribbon. For a night, it was TCF Bank Arena.

“It’s something different for us playing in front of 45,000 people. Having that many people cheering for us is something I’ll always remember,” Gophers forward Nate Condon said.

Wilcox made up for any sloppy play the cold conditions created. He stopped a shorthanded breakaway by Ryan Dzingel and pulled in an open look midway through the second period on a sluggish line change.

The teams traded scoring chances in the first period as they adapted to the chilly conditions. The Gophers had eight shots on goal, the Buckeyes seven.

The Gophers grabbed the edge in the second period but were unable to create many quality chances despite outshooting the Buckeyes 14-9. Both teams only got off five shots each in the third period.

Weather likely had an effect on the offensive output. The Gophers and Buckeyes entered the game as the Nos. 2 and 3 scoring teams in college hockey. They scored a combined 14 goals last weekend.

  • related content

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    Saturday January 18, 2014

    Fans braved the elements and had a blast at the Hockey City Classic

  • BOXSCORE: Gophers hockey 1, Ohio State 0

    Friday January 17, 2014

  • Pond hockey veteran Davis paces U women to 4-0 victory

    Saturday January 18, 2014

    Sarah Davis led the Gophers in their outdoor victory at TCF Bank Stadium with a goal and two assists.

  • Photo gallery: Hockey City Classic

    Friday January 17, 2014

    The Gopher women take on Mankato and the men play Ohio State , outdoors in TCF Stadium.

  • The Gophers took on the Ohio State Buckeyes at TCF Stadium on Friday night. For results, go to startribune.com.

  • Gophers goalie Adam Wilcox blocked a shot on goal by Ohio State’s Max McCormick in the first period of the Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium.

  • The Gophers celebrated Taylor Cammarata’s goal early in the second period Friday night. It was the only goal of the outdoor game.

  • A fan kept almost every inch covered during the Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey vs. Ohio State Hockey City Classic game outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium on Friday, January 17, 2014. ] (RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER reneejones@startribune.com)

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