TRAVERSE CITY — Game on.
Or, perhaps more accurately, game back on.
Now that the Winter Classic has been officially given to Detroit again, Traverse City Central, TC West and Cadillac are all hopeful that they’ll be included once again in the outdoor Hockeytown Winter Festival contests to be played in the run-up to the game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The three squads were scheduled to play in the festival last year — with Central and West playing each other — but those hopes went down the tubes when the NHL lockout extended long enough to cancel the Winter Classic.
“We’re hoping,” Central coach Chris Givens said. “It was good last year when everything fell apart, for them to say, ‘Hey, if this goes next year like we’re thinking it will, we’ll keep everything the way it was supposed to be.’”
“They assured us earlier when it was canceled,” TC West coach Jeremy Rintala said. “They said we had the option to either go down there and play a game at Joe Louis Arena this year or wait and we would be guaranteed to play the same matchup.”
Cadillac actually is hoping to do both — playing Big Rapids last season at the JLA and retaining a spot in this year’s festival.
“For that length of a trip to play at the Joe, we’d just rather wait and play at Comerica next season,” Rintala said. “They kept our deposit to play down there. So as long as it’s a go, we’re going.”
Each team has already paid a $1,000 deposit of $2,500 each to play there. Each team then gets 500 tickets to sell, so in theory each squad could break even on those costs if they sell all 500 tickets at $5 each.
“You look at it and think, ‘Jeez, that’s an expensive trip when you figure in the fees and transportation,’ which it is,” Givens said. “But I think it will be well worth it for everyone involved.”