Students got the day off from school just so they could be a part of the Hockeyville USA festivities.
When the players and coach Jeff Blashill finished signing autographs for the many children in attendance, they took to the ice for the morning skate.
It was a rare sight to have a full crowd for a morning skate.
"It was pretty cool," Waterford native Dylan Larkin said. "Just the travel getting up here, leaving early this morning from Detroit, coming in, right from when we got here at the airport there were fans and had the red carpet, which is pretty cool and then the sold-out practice here. It's really cool. They're really taking it in and so are we, so it's a lot of fun so far."
Fans chanted, "Let's go, Red Wings" and did the wave as the players ran through their drills.
"I didn't really know what to expect, to be honest," Detroit native Danny DeKeyser said. "I figured everybody up here was going to be pretty excited. I didn't know they were gonna shut the whole town down today. It's pretty cool."
Blashill said he was excited to be a part of this event in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, having grown up here.
"I grew up in the Soo and I know what it would have meant to me as a young guy growing up and a Red Wing fan, you don't get everyday touches with NHL stars like Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha and guys like that," Blashill said. "To be able to be up close and personal, I know for me it would have been a really really neat experience and I'm sure it is for both the young people and the not-so-young people. I think it's awesome. I've said that lots, even when we go to Traverse City, it's great to be able to touch different areas of the state and obviously, this is a real different area, a long ways away, but a super-important part of the state, so it's really cool."
Of all the Wings, Larkin is one of the most popular and fans walking in were heard asking, "Where's Larkin?"
Some of them got to meet Larkin on his way in as he and his teammates stopped to sign autographs.
"I was talking to a kid, and he was so excited to see NHL players skate on the ice he skates on," Larkin said. "I couldn't imagine as a kid, the rink I grew up playing on, where guys came and skated, and let alone an NHL game. It's pretty cool. A lot of kids, which is the way it should be, and hopefully more of the same tonight. It's going to be a tough game playing against the Stanley Cup champions. They brought a lot of their regular guys, so it'll be a fast game and fans will get to see a pretty good hockey game."
While playing for Michigan, Larkin had played in the U.P. but never at the Calumet Colosseum, which is the world's oldest indoor rink, established in 1913.
"It's really cool, just another city in Michigan that I've played in, haven't been to this rink but it's really nice, it's great ice," Larkin said. "(I) have been up here, playing in Houghton, against Michigan Tech. The fans love hockey up here. I saw a picture last night, there was a senior game and the place was sold out, so it was pretty cool being on the ice. The kids had let's go, Red Wings chants. I expect the same tonight and I'm real excited to be here."
DeKeyser, who played for Western Michigan, has played in the U.P. but also not in Calumet.
"The closest I've played to here was Marquette," DeKeyser said. "In college, we played at Northern Michigan.
"I think it's great. Obviously they're doing some upgrades to the rink here, bringing the game here and all that. I think it's good and it kind of spreads the game to some different cities it normally wouldn't be in."
On the other hand, Blashill does remember playing in the Calumet Colosseum as a kid.
"It looks awesome, to be honest with you," Blashill said. "I came onto the ice and said, 'Wow, it looks almost brand new.' It's been a long time since I played here. I did a long time ago and had some good battles back in the day. I think the rink looks fantastic, the ice is great, the boards are great, the lighting is great. We're looking forward to it. It'll be a lot of fun."
COMING HOME OR NEAR IT: Some fans were thrilled to see Larkin, but there were also some excited to see Dominik Shine and Troy Loggins.
Shine and Loggins both played for Northern Michigan University in Marquette, a little over two hours away from Calumet.
Shine, 26, is a native of Pinckney who was at Northern Michigan from 2013-17 and has played for the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins the last few years.
"It means a lot," Shine said. "Obviously, anytime you get to play for the Red Wings, it's a big deal, especially being in the U.P. Playing four years here, it's just exciting."
Loggins, 24, is a Huntington Beach, Calif. native who went to Northern Michigan from 2015-19 and played in four games for the Griffins last spring.
"I agree. To play here for the Red Wings and be back in the U.P. in front of a lot of fans who we played in front of is really special," Loggins said.
Although they were close by, neither Shine nor Loggins has ever played at the Calumet Colosseum.
"I haven't but I've been close to here," Shine said. "I haven't either but I've actually had a roommate in college who I played with, he grew up in this rink playing here," Loggins said. "Pretty crazy to be here. It's a really nice rink for being 100 years old. I'm excited for the game."
Blashill said he was happy to be able to bring along some guys who are familiar with the area.
"Loggs hasn't gotten in one yet, so it'll be good to get him in," Blashill said. "I just saw him at the prospects tournament, I don't know him as well. Dom was with GR last year. They bring different qualities to the game, both have been good college players.
"I thought it would be a great experience for them to be able to come up close to where they played at school. So it should be a fun experience for them and it'll be good to get a look at them."
Loggins was impressed with the turnout from the very excited fans at the morning skate.
"It's really cool to have them travel to come and see us play," Loggins said. "We were part of their community for four years, so it's awesome to see them keep supporting us. We're happy to have them here."
AGAINST THE BLUES: The Stanley Cup-champion St. Louis Blues also got a warm reception from the Calumet fans.
Although it's just a preseason game, the Wings are expecting a challenge.
"They're a great team," DeKeyser said. "They've been good for a few years now. Seeing them win the Cup was no surprise. They've got a great team. I'm sure they'll be ready to play tonight."
Conn Smythe winner Ryan O'Reilly is among the Blues expected to play.
"Hopefully we play well," Blashill said. "The ice sheet is a little bit small, they're a big team, so we'll see. From an exhibition standpoint, it's great to be able to keep testing ourselves. We played a really good lineup last night in Pittsburgh, we'll play a good lineup probably both games against Toronto. So it's good as we get closer to real action."