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'The Big Chill' Was a Big Thrill for Coyotes Prospect

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
“The Big Chill” was really cool.

That’s how Coyotes prospect Chris Brown explained his experience on Saturday when he and his teammates at the University of Michigan hosted rival Michigan State in an outdoor game staged at the Big Ten school’s storied football stadium in Ann Arbor.

The announced crowd for the game, which Michigan won 5-0, was 113,411. Remarkably, that figure is a Michigan Stadium attendance record, surpassing this season's football opener against Connecticut.

Coyotes prospect Chris Brown checks out the record crowd at "The Big Chill" in Ann Arbor, Mich on Saturday. Photo by Getty Images.
“I didn’t think there was going to be 113,000 people at the game,” said Brown, a sophomore forward whom the Coyotes selected with the 36th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. “I thought we’d get 100,000 but I didn’t project over that. I thought the cold weather would keep some people away, but there was actually 113,411 people and you could feel all of them there. When we scored, fireworks went off and you just heard this roar from all the fans.”

Brown said it was a special day on campus.

“It was like a football Saturday, which was really cool because you don’t get to see that for our hockey games because our home rink only holds about 7,000 people,” Brown said. “…When we got to the football stadium we did this thing called “The Victors Walk” that the football team does. That’s when the fans make a path for the players to walk through from the team bus into the stadium with a portion of the band leading the way. Then we all got to touch the “Go Blue” banner on our way onto the field; usually only the football players do that... The whole atmosphere was amazing. There were like 70,000 people there to watch us take warm-ups. That’s when the magnitude of the game really kicked in for me.”

Brown said once the game started it was pretty much business as usual but with a few twists.

Chris Brown.
“Playing outside was a little challenging,” Brown said. “The wind was a big factor. A couple times we had to backcheck into the wind so you had to push harder. And in the third period it actually got cold so we started to feel that, too. It started to get a little harder to breathe, but overall it was just a hockey game and once it started we didn’t really notice the change in the surroundings until we scored.”

About 30 of Brown’s friends and family members traveled to Ann Arbor for the game, including his parents and younger brother.

“They said it was surreal to have that many people together watching a hockey game,” Brown said. “They loved every part of it, including all the pre-game stuff with the fireworks and the fly-over by the Stealth Bomber.”

Brown is hoping to follow up “The Big Chill” by playing for Team USA in the upcoming World Junior Tournament. Brown, who is from Flower Mound, Texas, has been named to Team USA’s preliminary roster and hopes to secure a roster spot in the coming weeks.
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