Detroit Red Wings' coach Mike Babcock stands in front of the new zamboni at Clark Park during the team's outdoor practice last season. Photo courtesy of Detroit News.
Detroit Red Wings' coach Mike Babcock stands in front of the new zamboni at Clark Park during the team's outdoor practice last season. Photo courtesy of Detroit News.
Detroit Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock stands in front of the new zamboni at Clark Park during the team’s outdoor practice last season. Photo courtesy of Detroit News.

By VERONICA RATES, Staff Reporter

The University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey team will face off at Clark Park against Oakland University on Jan. 3 in a game that is much anticipated after an unexpected cancellation last year that left the Wolverines heartbroken.

The cancellation was huge for UM-Dearborn. With a win, it would have knocked Oakland off for a chance at the national title. This year, the Wolverines hope for a better outcome.

Well, at least better weather.

It will be the first outdoor game in Oakland’s hockey history and just the second one in just over four years for the Wolverines. The first one was played at Michigan Stadium in December 2010, where UM-Dearborn destroyed Eastern Michigan 9-3.

Located in southwest Detroit, Clark Park hosts many events, the biggest ones involving the team that gives Detroit its Hockeytown name, the Red Wings.

The Detroit Red Wings have brought many events to Clark Park, including open outdoor practices.

For the very first open Red Wings outdoor practice in February 2012, instead of buying tickets to watch practice, there were as many as three options to enter the rink: a $2 donation per person, any pre-owned hockey equipment donation or a canned food donation. The money would support the Clark Park Coalition. Clark Park and the Detroit Hockey Association would use the hockey equipment, and the canned food would be donated to a community food bank.

The Top Protection Shootout, held by Jimmy Howard in February 2011, featured a father and son duo with the Red Wings goaltender serving a guest goalie coach. For every save of the night, $100 was donated to the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, which invests in many different charities.

The park also holds many entertaining events. To kick off another winter season, opening day of the rink was a free skate day. Even Santa himself decided to show up, and it was a major success.

Clark Park rents out their rink every week. There are events including open skating, drop-in hockey games, youth learn-to-skate classes, high school and collegiate hockey games, as well as senior’s hockey.

There is much at stake for UM-Dearborn and Oakland on Jan. 3, and both teams are eager to fight for a win, since the two didn’t get a shot at it last season. It’s an honor to play an outdoor game at Clark Park and even better when a rivalry game is on the line.