No NCAA event has ever packed in as many people as the Big Chill

Some notes from the Big Chill at the Big House:

It’s in the books

The record-breaking crowd of 113,411 inside Michigan Stadium on Saturday did more than set a world record for attendance at a hockey game. It was the largest crowd for an event inside Michigan Stadium, surpassing the attendance of the Sept. 4, 2010, Michigan-Connecticut football game here.

It was also the biggest crowd for any NCAA event, ever.

It was fun, too

It’s hard to put a 5-0 loss into perspective so soon after the end of the game, but Spartans players Torey Krug and Trevor Nill both knew enough to appreciate the game while they were playing it, in spite of the outcome.

World record breaking attendence for a hockey game. (Michael Simari)
The crowd of 113,411 set a Guinness World Record (photo: Michael Simari).

“Obviously, it was a great experience and nobody could have told us what it was going to be like before it happened,” said Krug, the sophomore MSU captain. “Michigan put on a great show. Ten years from now, what I’m still going to remember is that it was the most fun I’ve ever had on an ice rink. You look at these 23-year-old men and they’re like little kids back on the ice, so it was a lot of fun.”

“It was a great experience,” said Nill. “They did a great job setting up the ice. The ice was excellent. I was excited to come out and see 113,000 fans sitting in the crowd. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it’s something I’ll remember.”

Nill said that the start of the game was “surreal.” “It was hard to fathom that there were that many people there.”

Michigan captain and senior Carl Hagelin, who scored twice in the game, said that the announcement of the attendance was a unique moment.

“I think we all got goose bumps,” he said. “The whole crowd was going crazy. You saw Coach clapping his hands. Everyone on the team, we felt great being a part of history. That’s something we’ve got to take with us. We just loved being out there today.”

He added that since Wolverines coach Red Berenson doesn’t emote often on the bench, seeing his coach clap his hands “was a good thing.” The environment was loud, Hagelin said: “It was overwhelming.”

Senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick, who found out 30 minutes before the game that he’d be starting for the Wolverines, had a different perspective on playing in front of the largest crowd in hockey history.

“I really just wanted to make that first save,” Hunwick said. “The crowd? I looked around a bit during TV timeouts, to really soak it up. We’re playing where some of my favorite football players, you know, played. When the play’s going on, you’re looking at the puck. You’re not worrying about the crowd.”

Lost in the crowd …

… might be the fact that it has been 136 minutes, 38 seconds since the Spartans scored. Krug was the last Spartans player to score a goal, at 9:22 of the third period of MSU’s 3-2 win over Ferris State on Dec. 3, 2010, and it was the winner.

It was the third time in the last six games that MSU was been shut out by opponents, and it was not the way the Spartans wanted their first half to end — averaging 2.33 goals per game, tying them with Bemidji State and Bentley as the 47th-best offense in the nation.

Each team had eight shots on goal in the first period, but Spartans coach Rick Comley said that his team came out slow due to factors for which the Spartans couldn’t have prepared.

“I’ve never been in a situation as a hockey coach where the wind impacted the game,” Comley said, “and it was tough skating into the wind. Red and their players said that during the week, that wind was a factor. They played very well and they were the better team tonight, but that was one of the human elements that was out there that was part of it.”