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Doubleheader at Soldier Field will give college game some exposure

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackssurveys surroundings Soldier Field. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson surveys the surroundings at Soldier Field. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 18, 2013 7:06AM

Soldier Field is rich in
tradition because of the Bears, but college hockey will try to capitalize on the iconic name when the two-game Hockey City Classic is held there Sunday.

No. 12 Notre Dame will face No. 3 Miami of Ohio in the first game (noon, CSN) and No. 2 Minnesota will
battle No. 18 Wisconsin in the second (3:30 p.m., BTN). It will be the first college hockey doubleheader at Soldier Field. Last week, seven high school hockey games were played there.

Dan Kelly, who has called hockey at the college and pro levels, will serve as the play-by-play announcer for both games.

‘‘It’s something to go to over 50,000 from a regular college hockey game of, let’s say, 7,000 people,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘It’s an event that appeals to non-traditional hockey fans and non-traditional sports fans because it’s just something to say, ‘I was there,’ and to see it is quite a spectacle.’’

While college football and basketball boast popularity similar to their pro counterparts, college hockey lags far behind the NHL. Kelly said events such as the Hockey City Classic not only will bring pro hockey fans to the college game, but it will lure sports fans who might have only a casual interest in hockey.

Michigan’s hockey program already has had success hosting outdoor games at Michigan Stadium. The NHL’s Winter Classic, an outdoor game normally played on New Year’s Day (it wasn’t played this season because of the lockout), has become a cornerstone of its schedule.

‘‘Events like this and, of course, college hockey kind of set the precedent with these outdoor games and showed the NHL just how popular they can be in helping grow your sport to the non-traditional hockey fans,’’ Kelly said.

‘‘It’s a monumental sporting event that the city [will see]. To have a hockey game at an iconic place like Sol-
dier Field, it’s going to be a special day.’’

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