I have been asked a few times already, why I am so ecstatic about the 3rd annual Duel in the D. For those of you who don’t know, this is an epic gathering of grit and skill in one of the most iconic arenas in the nation. The University of Michigan and Michigan State will be facing off one last time in the Joe Louis Arena. Its hard to summarize my enthusiasm for this event in a few short breaths, but I will try!
When comparing professional to college athletics, its almost impossible to ignore the unearthly level of determination and drive in the college students. Not yet having found their way into the “big leagues,” its as if each game is a matter of life and death. They lay their heart and soul on the field, or in this case, the ice, every game.
I have attended the Prospect Tournament hosted by Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, MI for two years now, and I see the faces of young men who have worked countless hours and have shed blood and tears to get a shot at the NHL. I fully expect to see the same astounded and awestruck faces walking into the Joe on February 10. This may be the only time these young players get the chance to step onto the ice of a professional arena, where many of their idols have played. I love to hear the stories and see the unmistakable parents’ faces; full of pride as they watch their boys living their dream.
Beyond the sentimentality, I want to personally feel the energy of the deeply rooted rivalry. Both clubs, University of Michigan and Michigan State, are proudly represented in the NHL by a slew of alumni soaring to the top of the stats. Justin Abdelkader, Duncan Keith, brothers Drew and Ryan Miller, and Jeff Petry are among Michigan State’s alumni boasting the Spartan credentials. The University of Michigan’s alumni roster is no less impressive sporting names such as Max Pacioretty, Dylan Larkin, Luke Glendening, Jacob Trouba and Carl Hagelin.
With record breakers and Stanley Cup Champions emerging from these university’s hockey programs, it makes one wonder how they do it, and that’s what I intend to find out. With the 2016-2017 season being the Farewell to the Joe season, it seams only fitting to have Michigan’s finest bid the iconic arena a fair-thee-well.
So what about this competition do I find so enthralling? Well, in a nutshell, all of it. The past, present and future on display in a tactical battle of artistry and skill. Though I hold no particularly loyalty to either team, I am looking forward to seeing so many lives converge in one place for the sake of one game.