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Record crowd watches Michigan win "Big Chill"

Saturday, 12.11.2010 / 8:22 PM / On Campus

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Record crowd watches Michigan win "Big Chill"
A world-record hockey crowd of 113,411 packed Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor to watch the Wolverines roll to a 5-0 win over Michigan State.
The "Big Chill in the Big House" was a big win for the home side.

A world-record hockey crowd of 113,411 packed Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday to watch the Wolverines roll to a 5-0 victory against archrival Michigan State.

The turnout smashed the previous hockey record of 77,803 set at last the International Ice Hockey Federation world championships in Germany this spring. It's the largest crowd in the history of the venerable stadium, which routinely draws more than 100,000 fans for football.

"Any time you looked away from the game and look at the environment and the surroundings, it was definitely surreal," Michigan coach Red Berenson said.

It was the second time the teams have played outdoors -- they drew 74,544 at Michigan State's Spartan Stadium in 2001, setting a record for the largest hockey crowd at the time. This game featured temperatures in the low 40s and an 8 mph wind, producing a wind-chill factor that was just above freezing.

"It was a big risk when they undertook this," added Berenson, who played his college hockey at Michigan and is in his 27th season as coach of the Wolverines. "You never knew if fans would support it, what the weather would be like or what the game would be like. But everything turned out all right and couldn't be better."

Jon Merrill and Carl Hagelin each scored twice for the Wolverines, now 10-5-4. Goaltender Shawn Hunwick stopped all 34 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season.

Merrill, chosen by New Jersey in the second round of the Entry Draft in June, opened the scoring with a power-play goal 12:04 into the game and made it 2-0 when he scored again at 14:54.

Hagelin scored the next two goals, connecting during a power play at 12:12 of the second period and again with the extra man at 8:57 of the third. David Wohlberg completed the scoring at 10:45 of the final period by batting in a rebound.

Among the fans who had the longest trip were friends and family of Hagelin, a native of Sweden.
"I have 20 or 25 family or friends from back home," he said. "It's just amazing to first off get them the win -- and (to) score a couple of goals was fun."

Spartans coach Rick Comley was thrilled with the scene, if not the outcome.

"The whole thing was great. If you can separate losing, you can't as a person involved in hockey experience anything better than what you experienced tonight," he said.

Material from school media was used in this report.

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When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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