NEW YORK - The National Hockey League announced the cancellation of the 2013 Winter Classic Friday, and with the league's marquee event goes the Hockeytown Winter Festival, which was slated to include an outdoor Great Lakes Invitational at Comerican Park.
The 48th annual GLI, which was scheduled for Dec. 27-28, will be moved to Joe Louis Arena, and the games will now be on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 29-30.
"I'm just glad it's finally finalized instead of being in flux about it," Michigan Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret said. "We kind of had speculation of this even in August, that this very well could be the case. I feel bad for our seniors on the hockey team because they won't get to experience it. Otherwise it's alright. We'll still have a really good event at the Joe."
The Dec. 29 semifinal matchups are: Michigan State vs. Western Michigan at 3:30 p.m. and Michigan Tech vs. Michigan at 7 p.m. The GLI third-place and championship games will be played Dec. 30 at 3:30 and 7 p.m., respectively.
As for what the match-ups next year will be, that's yet to be determined, but the Red Wings and Olympia have stressed they want to keep it a Michigan-based hockey experience.
"I'm just disappointed as a hockey fan that they don't have NHL hockey, and obviously we're a byproduct of what's going on there," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "It's unfortunate, but we'll just have to wait hopefully for the following year."
Sanregret said the Detroit Red Wings and Olympia Entertainment have kept Tech in the loop, and she praised the NHL for honoring its September commitment to make a decision by early November.
Plan B has been in action for a couple weeks now, according to Sanregret, and people who purchased tickets for the Winter Classic or Winter Festival will be able to secure full reimbursement, or hold their tickets for the events, which are still likely to take place the following year in much the same format. Tickets will not transfer from the Winter Festival to this year's GLI. Tickets for this year can be purchased through the Joe Louis Arena box office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster outlets and online at olympiaentertainment. com.
"It does pose a bit of a problem because Comerica is twice the size as the Joe, but it'd be really great if that was a problem," she said. "Hopefully we'll get a few more people interested in college hockey at the Joe seeing as how the NHL season is still in flux."
Tech is also considering ramping up its marketing to regional audiences in case the NHL season is a loss, but it's hard to plan around the unknown.
"You don't really know from day to day if they're going to come to an agreement or not ... but Fox is interested, and I think you'll see some of the games on TV," she said.
Fox Sports Detroit is already slated to broadcast all four games of this year's GLI.