Red Wings coach Mike Babcock (right) gave the St. Norbert players lunch at the Detroit team’s facility and joined them for practice time on NHL ice.
Women’s hockey plays on NHL ice
When the Green Knights women’s hockey team road-tripped to New York this winter to compete at Oswego State University, head coach Rob Morgan had a surprise in store for his team along the way: a practice session with Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings’ home ice.
Morgan arranged the visit through a connection maintained since his college days: Babcock was Morgan’s hockey coach at Red Deer College in Alberta, Canada.
Babcock gave the Green Knights pointers while they practiced. When news of the end of the NHL lockout broke later that same day, Babcock told the media, “I just had a good tune-up working with the St. Norbert women’s hockey team, so I’m ready to go.”
To keep the Red Wings visit under wraps, Morgan planned the team’s travel route through Canada, leading players to believe they would make a surprise trip to Niagara Falls. When they found out they were going to meet Babcock and play on the Red Wings’ ice, they were ecstatic.
The women had lunch in the team cafeteria. They chatted with other members of the Red Wings coaching staff, and each player got an individual picture with Babcock.
Last season, the team spent unexpected time at United Center Arena, home of the Chicago Blackhawks. “An annual surprise like these adds to the overall experience of being a student-athlete,” Morgan says.
With the team’s visit to Detroit, the Green Knights have acquired one more fan. Babcock asked Morgan keep him up to speed on the rest of the season.