Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor is home to the Michigan Wolverines hockey team. The building was built in 1923 and became home to the college hockey team fifty years later in 1973.
Two members of the Winnipeg Jets organization wore the maize and blue during their collegiate careers. Both were born and raised in Michigan. Andrew Copp grew up in Ann Arbor while Kyle Connor is from about an hour east in Shelby Township. Copp attended Michigan from 2012-13 until 2014-15 whereas Connor would be a one and done a year later in 2015-16. Of course the things that Kyle Connor achieved in his one season in the Big-10 was more than most players achieve during four years of college hockey including ending the season on a 27 game point streak and finishing as a runner-up for the Hobey Baker Award.
With this pause in the NHL season many different ideas have been bandied about if it was to resume. There have been suggestions about playing in empty arenas or holding games in neutral site buildings (also without fans in attendance). Earlier this month there was quite a bit of buzz generated when Ralph Englestad Arena in nearby Grand Forks, North Dakota was mentioned as a potential landing spot for NHL games. Unsurprisingly UND alum T.J. Oshie of the Capitals was all over that idea.
Of course the idea of neutral site arenas is predicated on being in places with low population density (i.e. North Dakota or New Hampshire). Ann Arbor has about double the population of Grand Forks but is on par with Manchester in New Hampshire.
Cue historic Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.
When the idea was mentioned to Kyle Connor during a video conference call he was understandably excited by the prospect. “That would be awesome….That’s a pretty special place and a pretty cool rink.”. When asked about his favourite memories in the building he added “Probably just my first game in that building. There wasn’t a night where there wasn’t a sold out crowd. It was just a special feeling whenever you get there. I grew up going to games, watching that team. It was my favourite team growing up as well. To be able to put the black M, it’s a pretty special feeling.”.
Andrew Copp was also asked about the possibility of playing in his hometown rink during his video chat. “That would be fun. It would be nice for me as I could just go home afterwards as I have a house set up there. That would be interesting. If there are no fans allowed, just friends and family, have a little cheering section there. That’d be an interesting dynamic for sure. I kinda like that idea though. I’m going to pitch that to the NHL.”
Of course maybe not all Jets players would be so eager. Mason Appleton who went to rival Michigan State may not be as interested in playing at Yost Ice Arena considering the historic rivalry between the Spartans and Wolverines.