Big Ten hockey schedule has Buckeyes, Wolverines taking things outside in Cleveland
It will be the fourth all-time outdoor game for Ohio State hockey and the second in Cleveland, but this time the Browns NFL stadium will host Faceoff on the Lake in February 2023.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — If the Cuyahoga River starts on fire, again, around the same time as outdoor college hockey comes to northeast Ohio next winter, maybe fans can use the flames to keep warm.
An outdoor game where the Ohio State Buckeyes host their archrivals the Michigan Wolverines is perhaps the most unique contest among those in the recently-revealed Big Ten hockey schedule for the 2022-23 season . The Buckeyes will square off versus “that team up north” on Thursday, Feb. 16 at their normal home on-campus rink, Value City Arena in Columbus. Two nights later the crowd will be bigger and the “roof” will be the Ohio night sky.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines will face off on an outdoor rink at FirstEnergy Stadium, just off Lake Erie in Cleveland. The home of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, which has seating for almost 68,000, will host the Faceoff on the Lake, which will come 11 years after the last outdoor meeting between these conference rivals. In 2012, the Wolverines beat Ohio State in an outdoor game played at Progressive Field, home of baseball’s Cleveland Guardians.
"We'll see what he can do up at the Dawg Pound," said Buckeyes coach Steve Rohlik, who is entering his 10th season at the helm of the Ohio State program. "The reaction of our players tells it all. I can't tell you how excited they were, and we're in business for these guys and their experience. They'll remember this for the rest of their life."
It will be the fourth time that the Buckeyes have played outdoors, with all of the games coming versus Big Ten foes. They faced Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay in 2006, and lost a 1-0 game to the Gophers in January 2014 on a bitterly cold night at Huntington Bank Stadium on the U of M campus.
The 2023 game will count in the conference standings. Tickets for Faceoff on the Lake can be purchased via the Cleveland Browns ticket office.
"The game means something, too. February 18th is about the second-to-last weekend of the Big Ten (schedule), and obviously the team we're playing, a lot of people think is the greatest rivalry in sports," Rohlik said. "It's exciting. I can still remember the night we played in one in Minnesota."
Rohlik noted with the growing popularity of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, the 2016 AHL title won by the Cleveland Monsters, the 2019 Big Ten title won by Ohio State and the 2022 NCAA title won by the Buckeyes women's program, hockey has rarely if ever been so popular in Ohio.
Cleveland is legendary for the Cuyahoga – which winds through downtown on the way to the lake – catching fire in 1969 due to an abundance of petroleum runoff and chemical pollution. Although environmental protection efforts in the past 50 years have resulted in significant cleanup of the river’s waters, the fire is forever remembered in the song “Burn On” by Randy Newman.
“Burn on, big river, burn on.”