-- A day after the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, a pair of varsity high school hockey teams took to the ice at Clark Park in the shadows of the Ambassador Bridge on the city's southwest side.
While it provided Novi Detroit Catholic Central and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood with an opportunity to get acclimated to the outdoor facility and the nuances of the ice surface, the weather – 12-degrees and windy – did not allow for much “warm-up”.
Both teams skated for about 90-minutes and both squads seemed to enjoy the surroundings as they moved briskly through their drills and scrimmages in preparation of the inaugural Outdoor Classic, High School Hockey in the 'D' that will be played on Jan. 17.
“The guys seemed to enjoy it and for some it was the first time they played at an outdoor arena,” Catholic Central coach Todd Johnson said.
CK coach Andy Weidenbach added, “I think they would have skated a lot longer if we had let them. It might have been interesting if we had let them scrimmage against each other, it might have picked up their intensity a little.”
As CC came off the ice and stepped into the lone dressing room, they provided the CK players, who were getting dressed, with words of encouragement and suggestions like, “Wear hats under your helmet. Wear street gloves under your gloves. A little petroleum on the face might help”
“I thought both teams moved well under the conditions," CK assistant Pat Ronayne said. "I can’t say as much for the respective coaching staffs.”
Both coaches thought it was a great opportunity for the players to get used to the ice conditions, to see how the puck bounced off the boards and to experience outdoor conditions.
The 2010 Outdoor Classic, proudly sponsored by Little Caesars, will be played at Clark Park on Sunday, Jan.17 at 2 p.m. EST. The varsity game will be preceded by two alumni games and a junior varsity game.
Details at MIHL.org