Wed Aug 13 01:50pm EDT
On Monday in Zermatt, Switzerland, the EHC Visp and EV Zug got high together ... 12,740 feet, to be exact. And then they played a 3-on-3 exhibition hockey game inside a glacier cave near the Matterhorn.
Of course, the game was not played on the peak itself, but nearby at Klein Matterhorn and its glacier palace at 3,883 metres. Three cable car connections bring people up there from the village. There's no higher point in Europe accessible by cable car and therefore no better place for Visp's record ambitions.
... The oxygen-deficient mountain air is a challenge for doing sports. "I felt a bit dizzy at the beginning but eventually I could get ready for the game," said 1993 Stanley Cup winner Paul DiPietro, who also became famous for scoring both goals in Switzerland's 2-0 win against his native country Canada at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy. "It's fun, it's something very different."
It was not an Olympic-sized rink the teams played on, but the organisers nevertheless brought out the best of the glacier palace, a natural crevasse, creating an 18-metre long rink that was between 4 and 12 metres wide. The temperature was -2°C but coolers brought the ice to -7°C. Guests kept warm by mulled wine and tea. Plexi-glass protected the glacier palace from shots.
Crazy, right? The game was 6-6 after two five-minute periods; and what better way to end a hockey game played inside a glacier than with a shootout, right? Fabian Schnyder had the game-winner for Zug, whose team slogan better damn be "Zugs, not drugs," "Kneel Before Zug!" or "The Good, the Bad or the Zugly." Otherwise, we're crackin' skulls.
Judging from the IIHF photo gallery for the game, there are broom-hockey shootouts in Canadian car garages that have had more room to maneuver. But everyone seems to have had a great time ... including Miss Suisse Romande 2008. Uh, can we please get her a ticket for Wrigley on Jan. 1?
Additional photos and coverage in other language on HockeyFans.ch.