CHL Update: Freeze Turn Up the Heat

The CHL’s Minnesota Freeze have one of the most apt nicknames in sports.  They play in Duluth, the northernmost city in one of America’s northernmost states.  Sub-zero temperatures are not uncommon in the wintertime, and the city is frequently blanketed with substantial blizzards.

However, it’s been a particularly long winter in the Midwest, and freezing temperature and snow threats have continued to hang on even well into spring.  Next week’s forecast calls for highs in the 30s and 40s and the potential for more snow.  The seemingly endless chill convinced Minnesota GM Kent Rivers that it was time to take action.

“I’m not a superstitious person by nature,” said Rivers.  “But I can’t help but notice that we’ve been up near the top of the standings all season, and that it’s been unseasonably cold.  Obviously, we’re not going to start losing just to usher in spring, but if there’s something we can do to help, we’re up for it.”

In order to try to chase winter away, the Freeze changed their name for one game.  On Sunday, they competed against the Baltimore Blue Crabs as the Minnesota Thaw.  “I know our fans are ready for a little warmth around here, so at least they’ll find some inside the arena,” said Rivers.

In addition to the name change, Minnesota changed up their uniforms as well.  Instead of dark blue, their threads were reddish-orange.  In lieu of the typical “Freeze” wordmark in letters that appear to be made of snow-capped ice, the “Thaw” wordmark appeared to be melting, with puddles forming underneath.

In addition, the team changed up its playlist to feature songs focusing on heat.  Tunes like “Hot Hot Hot” by Buster Poindexter and “Burn’ for You” by the Blue Oyster Cult allowed the fans to think warm.  In between periods, the Jumbotron featured clips of Minnesota players dressed in beach wear, engaging in summer sports like swimming and sand volleyball.

To top it all off, all fans in attendance received a pair of Thaw-branded sunglasses, with the message “Think Hot!” emblazoned on the temples.

The promotion went over well with the winter-weary fans of Duluth.  “For one night at least, I got to pretend it was summer,” said local fan Rick Schneider.  “I know it’s going to be about 15 outside when I leave, so reality’s gonna be a slap in the face.  But this was fun.”

Rivers stressed that the promotion was a one-night-only event.  “We’re not changing our name for good, and we’re not going to wear the [Thaw] jerseys again,” the GM told reporters.  “After all, we’re about to go to the playoffs!  We’ll stick with what got us here.”

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CHL Update: Minnesota Drink Promo Gets Cold Reception

When you’re a minor-league sports team, getting attention by any means is the name of the game.  That’s what the CHL’s Minnesota Freeze were thinking when they started dreaming up promotions for their inaugural season.

“Anything we can do that will get attention, that will get tweeted, that will go viral,” said Freeze GM Kent Rivers.  “As long as it’s not illegal, I’m in.”

With that goal in mind, Rivers and his staff took notice when Starbucks launched its short-lived Unicorn Frappuccino.  The brightly-colored, flavor-changing drink caused a sensation on social media when it appeared in April.  “We thought, why not do something like that?” said Rivers.

With that in mind, the team developed a slushy beverage called the “Freeze Freeze”, or “Freeze Squared.”  Like the Unicorn Frappuccino, the Freeze Squared changes colors and flavors as it’s consumed, from the dark blue of Minnesota’s home uniforms to the pale blue of the “Freeze” wordmark.  The drink starts out sour and then becomes sweet.

Similar to the Starbucks beverage, the team planned to make the Freeze Squared available for a limited time; in this case, for one home game a month.  “Part of what made the Unicorn Frappuccino so exciting was that you could only get it for a few days,” said Rivers.  “We wanted to capture that same sense of excitement.”

The Freeze Squared made its debut this week, for Minnesota’s game against Virginia on Saturday.  The promotion had the intended effect: the game sold out, and social media flooded with pictures of the drink and fans holding it.

However, once the fans actually began sampling the drinks, the comments were less favorable.  Reviews of the taste ranged from “nasty” to “tasted like seal puke” to “this is poison… u trying to poison us???”

Rivers acknowledged that “manufacturing errors” had led to an adverse change in the quality of the drinks.  “When we tested the samples, they tasted fine,” said the Minnesota GM.  “I don’t know if they had trouble scaling up or if they tweaked the recipe or what, but it definitely wasn’t supposed to taste like that.”

The team has cancelled plans to offer the drink at future games, at least until they can improve the recipe.  In the meantime, fans who were unhappy with the drink can submit proof of purchase to the team and will receive a ticket to a future Freeze game and a concession credit.