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Winter Classic, NHL’s coldest game, ‘experience of a lifetime’

That was the temperature for the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic, making the St. Louis Blues’ 6-4 win over the Minnesota Wild at Target Field on Saturday the coldest game in NHL history.

“I was looking over my shoulder for a polar bear,” Wild Forward Marcos Foligno He said. “That’s how cold it is out there.”

It was noticeably cooler than the previous record holder, the first of 33 recent NHL overseas games, when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in the Heritage Classic at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on November 22, 2003. The record says it was a zero score In confrontation at the time.

But while the temperature is negative, the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to outdoor hockey. This is especially true here in “State of Hockey,” where it’s not just about romance, but it may be more a part of real life than anywhere else in the States.

NHL outdoor games honor the roots of the game of hockey, and back to the beginning, the primary goal of hockey is to take advantage of winter, and turn something frozen into something fun.

Here we had a crowd of 38,619 hardy people to watch the subzero spectacle. The stadium was organized to look like a pool hockey tournament, with nine rinks carved out of snow on the Lake Winter Classic, turning Minnesota into the land of 1001 lakes. There were no polar bears, but there were deer, lumberjacks, ice hunters, and more.

“It was fantastic,” Foligno said. “When you’re in the middle of that ice rink and you’re looking around, it’s unbelievable. It’s an incredible sight. And to see the fans piled on top, I mean, braving the cold, these are probably the best fans, I guess.”

Video: Classic Winter Made Great Memories That Last

Minnesota fans have been waiting for this for a long time. The Wild has hosted an outdoor game before, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1 by 50,426 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on February 21, 2016. But it was in the stadium series, not the NHL’s New Year’s Day show, and it was warm with a 35-degree heat. in confrontation. They were scheduled to host the Winter Classic last season, but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was the first Winter Classic in two years and the first outdoor ice hockey game with fans in attendance since the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 before 43,574 in the stadium series at Falcon Stadium at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado on February 15, 2020 .

As soon as the gates opened two hours before the game on Saturday, fans began pouring in, dressed as if they were going skiing, snowboarding, snow fishing or hunting. They were experienced in this weather, and it appeared. In fact, it seemed more than that. It seemed like a point of pride.

Chris Obskar, 44, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and his 15-year-old son, Riker, a rookie at Champlain Park High School, climbed straight to their seats in Row 19, Division 237—three rows from the top in the right midfield of what It is usually the home of the Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball.

“We were raised from the cold,” said Opskar. “Like, I’m warm now. I can sit here all day.”

why?

“Oh, that’s the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “I went to the playground chain here when we finished the Blackhawks. My son wasn’t old enough to go at the time. I just decided, like, ‘Hey, outdoor hockey is what Minnesota is about.'” “It hurts when these guys are young skating rinks. Your toes are cold. We have to be able to suffer through this to watch a good NHL hockey game.”

The NHL kept insulation blankets on ice as long as possible to keep him warm. Yes that’s right. to keep it warm. The optimum surface temperature for an NHL plate ranges from 22 to 24 degrees, so the NHL had to heat the glycol pumped through aluminum pans in the ground to prevent the ice from becoming brittle.

The league heated up the seats and penalty boxes, and the equipment crew on each team assisted players after consulting with the Green Bay Packers equipment manager, Red Batty, who prepares their NFL players for the famous “frozen tundra” at Lambeau Field. They wore thermal underwear and masks, put hand warmers on their gloves and drank chicken broth from water bottles.

“It’s kind of a soup, so it was good,” the Blues goalkeeper Jordan Bennington He said.

It is a state of mind.

The blues thought of arriving dressed as lumberjacks. Bennington said he bought up to 30 shirts. But instead, they decide to arrive as if they were going to the beach, wearing sandals, shorts, swimming trunks, tropical T-shirts, and sunglasses. defenseman Marco Scandella His shirt was unbuttoned, topless underneath, and he was carrying a cooler. straight ahead David Peron He had a towel rolled over his shoulder.

“Everyone was talking about how cold it was,” Captain Blues Ryan O’Reilly He said. “We thought it would be nice if you came ready to catch some sun and enjoy it. We had a good laugh.”

They got more than that. They got an experience they will remember forever.

“It was amazing,” O’Reilly said. “I thought the NHL did a great job putting it on. The fans, I was talking to Binnington about that after the game, especially that anthem, what it was like to see that many people, the fireworks and everything, the emotion from that… They did a great job. Sure. It’s so special to be around that, to be in a different place. It was so much fun.”

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