Sound bytes provided by Pete Krupsky and www.plymouthwhalers.com
DETROIT – When the Plymouth Whalers meet the London Knights on Dec. 29 at Comerica Park, they’ll scrum for the opening faceoff in the area where Jhonny Peralta and Ramon Santiago turn double plays.
With Major League Baseball enjoying the All-Star Break, boards were placed around the Comerica Park infield Wednesday afternoon to show the assembled media where hockey games will be played during the 2012 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™.
The festival goes from Dec. 15-31 at Comerica Park in a unique celebration of hockey at all levels of the game. The Ontario Hockey League will be featured on Dec. 29 with the league’s first-ever doubleheader outdoors – Windsor vs. Saginaw at 1 p.m., then Plymouth and London at 5 p.m.
Plymouth general manager and head coach Mike Vellucci attended the press conference and said he looks forward to seeing his team and the OHL playing on Dec. 29.
“As a kid, growing up in Detroit, you always wanted to come to Tiger Stadium, or now to Comerica Park,” Vellucci said, as he stood on the Comerica Park field, just outside the first base line. “So it’s exciting standing here right now. There was a lot of talk about it before, but now, it’s coming to a realization when you stand here and look at all the seats and how it’s going to be designed.”
Although the Whalers have developed a strong niche of fans in Plymouth and the surrounding community, playing in the Winter Festival will present an opportunity to increase awareness to many more fans. Vellucci was quick to mention the talent level of the OHL and Canadian Hockey League and other factors that are commonplace in the league.
“It is great for the awareness,” Vellucci said. “But the game will showcase the talent that comes out of our league. We have four first-round picks on our team (Tom Wilson, Stefan Noesen, Rickard Rakell, JT Miller), London’s going to have a few and Windsor has a few. It’s exciting to showcase the talent.
“I think the rest of Detroit-area is going to see how passionate the Windsor fans and London fans are – they both sell out their buildings – 9,100 (in London) and 6,100 (in Windsor). They’re all going to be here, plus more. It should be a great crowd and hopefully a capacity crowd watching OHL hockey.”
AUDIO - Listen to Mike Vellucci interview.
Comerica Park holds 41,782 for baseball.
Saginaw Spirit Managing Partner, President and Governor Craig Goslin spoke at the press conference and knows the outdoor game will be a memorable event for everyone involved.
“The first time only happens once,” Goslin said. “And this is the first-ever OHL outdoor game. The players of all the teams are going to be thrilled. We’re hoping to pack this place and we knew there’s going to a lot of Maple Leafs fans here, a lot of fans coming from London and Windsor and Southwestern Ontario, as well as fans from the Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers.
“So I think we can fill this place. Wouldn’t that be exciting for our players? All the action going on our here is going to be really, really good for our league.”
AUDIO - Listen to the Craig Goslin interview.
VIDEO - See the Sirius XM Hockeytown Winter Festival Press Conference (courtesy of NHL.com).
2012 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™ at Comerica Park™
Celebration of Hockey amateur games, corporate outings and open skates. Information on booking ice time can be obtained by visiting DetroitRedWings.com/icetime.
Outdoor Festival featuring interactive games, autograph signings, face painting and ice sculpture exhibits as well as musical performances and live entertainment.
Great Lakes Invitational featuring the Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Western Michigan Broncos and Michigan Tech Huskies all competing for the 2012 MacInnes Cup.
Ontario Hockey League Doubleheader featuring the Windsor Spitfires taking on the Saginaw Spirit at 1 p.m. and the Plymouth Whalers battling the J. Ross Robertson Cup champion London Knights at 5 p.m.
American Hockey League Game featuring the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies, AHL affiliates of the Red Wings® and Maple Leafs®.
2012 Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown™ Doubleheader featuring two games of legendary players from two of the National Hockey League’s most storied franchises going head-to-head.
2012 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™ Great Lakes Invitational, American Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League tickets will go on sale on Wed. Aug. 1 at DetroitRedWings.com, ticketmaster.com or by calling 313-396-7575.
The Whalers will have more ticket information available in the near future.
The Detroit Red Wings will play the Toronto Maple Leafs in a National Hockey League game on Jan. 1, 2013 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor in the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.