"Those are two distinguishing factors," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "It'll be special."
The league said 105,500 tickets have been sold for the game Wednesday between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium. That almost doubles the average of 53,045 spectators who watched the first five Winter Classics.
If every person who paid for a ticket braves temperatures in the teens on a snowy afternoon, a record will be broken.
In the same football stadium, known as the Big House, Michigan and Michigan State set a hockey attendance record of 104,173 in 2010.
"If you haven't been to a football Saturday here, then you should put it on your bucket list," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Tuesday after a brief practice. "It's the best sporting event. I've been to the Olympic Games, the World Series, the Stanley Cup. This is probably the best sporting event I've ever been to, bar none.
"Can it transfer into hockey? I assume it can."
Some players will borrow a practice from football, putting eye black on their cheeks to help cope with glare.
"I remember back to Wrigley Field [in the 2009 Winter Classic], I thought it looked kind of silly when guys were doing it," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said with black smudges under both eyes. "But it does actually help."