Saturday, February 11, 2006
Wisconsin wins first ever hockey game at Lambeau
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said he had no plans to mimic Hall of Fame Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The only motivation the Badgers needed was a chance to do the Lambeau Leap.
Andrew Joudrey, Kyle Klubertanz, Robbie Earl and captain Adam Burish scored for Wisconsin to help the Badgers beat Ohio State 4-2 on Saturday in the first hockey game at Lambeau Field.
"There was no great speech," Eaves said about the second intermission. "I said, 'OK gentlemen, you've been here. You've been in the middle of the battle. You tell me what to tell you.'"
Wisconsin responded with two goals in the last 20 minutes -- one by Joudrey with 13 minutes left and another by Earl with an empty net in the final minute.
It was as much of a spectacle as a hockey game -- officials announced there were 40,890 tickets handed out for the stadium that seats 72,601.
The crowd was a sea of Badger red instead of Packer green and gold.
"Everywhere was Wisconsin," said Burish, who opened the scoring 23 seconds into the first period. "It's like everybody exchanged their Favre jerseys for Wisconsin hockey jerseys."
After the game ended, the Badgers left the rink that extended across nearly two-thirds of the field and did Lambeau Leaps of their own into the partisan crowd -- complete with skates.
"You know how John Madden diagrams where your hips have to be above the green barrier? I think our guys had our hips above it," Burish said. "We were perfect."
Ohio State's Sean Collins was proud of his teammates' resolve. Collins had a potential tying goal wiped out early after officials said the net had become dislodged.
"You grow up playing outside as a young kid, to be able to play a game outside in front of that many fans, at Lambeau Field especially, it was an amazing experience," Collins said.
The Lambeau game was the third big outdoor matchup in North America, after Michigan and Michigan State played to a tie in 2001 and the NHL's Heritage Classic three years ago in Edmonton, Alberta, when Montreal beat the Oilers.
But it was the venue, host of the Ice Bowl in 1967 when the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys for the NFL championship, that made this game unique, and Lambeau needed a frozen conversion.
Officials used over 32 miles of tubing circulating more than 2,200 gallons of a nontoxic antifreeze solution at 5 to 10 degrees to create a "freezing zone" for the 17,000 gallons of water above the ice to take shape.
Klubertanz, who scored the go-ahead goal on the power play with 3:03 left in the second period, said the rink itself was inspiring when he first saw it Friday.
"Just how incredible it looked and we finally got to skate out there," he said. "We were actually skating at Lambeau Field. That's when it hit."
The only factor expected to play into the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic that didn't was the weather, where it stayed around 28 degrees with clear skies.
Beforehand, Lambeau Field's famous tailgating meant thousands of Wisconsin fans got a chance to experience the Packers' stadium for the first time.
"I just want to sit in Lambeau Field," said Kyle Peterson, 21, of Superior. "That's all I want to do. I could just sit there and stare."
Peterson and eight friends enjoyed typical tailgating activities in front of an array of colorful camps that included one flying a flag with a beer mug on it and several more with giant inflatable Bucky Badger mascots.
"I love the Packers, and I love Badger hockey, too," Peterson said. "I came here because, how many times do you get to see hockey at Lambeau Field?"