The NHL Winter Classic has become a sporting tradition held on New Year’s Day. With freezing weather, a festive mood, electric atmosphere and thrilling performances on the outdoor ice rink, the NHL Winter Classic is a great opportunity for family and friends.
10TH Anniversary of the first Winter Classic
Since its inception in 2008, the Winter Classic has grown in popularity. In 2018, the fans can expect the same and more because it will be its tenth anniversary. The first Winter Classic was played between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Ralph Wilson StadiumRalph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, on January 1, 2008.
2018 NHL Winter Classic
As the 2018 NHL Winter Classic is approaching, excitement is mounting with every passing moment. The Buffalo Sabres , who have the honor of being the hosts for the tenth Winter Classic, are ready to face the New York Rangers on January 1, 2018. The venue for the big event is Citi Field home to the New York Mets.
Sabres vs. Rangers
The Sabres and the Rangers will be competing in the Winter Classic for the second time. Rangers will be appearing after five years, with 2012 being the last time they played in Philadelphia. Sabres played the Winter Classic back in 2008 at the Buffalo’s then-named Ralph Wilson Stadium. Rangers are no strangers to outdoor games as well. It will be their fourth outdoor NHL game for the Rangers as they previously played the 2014 Stadium Series against the Devils and Islanders at Yankee Stadium.
Both teams are an equal match. It will be interesting for the Sabers’ fans to see young stars like Jack Eichel make their first outdoor game appearance.
Memorable NHL Winter Classic Games
The 2008 Classic - An NHL-record crowd of 71,217 on a New Year’s Day came out in the freezing cold to catch the first Winter Classic and they weren’t disappointed. The game was between Pittsburgh and Buffalo at the Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. It was of great significance for the reason alone that this was the first ever outdoor NHL game played on US soil. The packed crowd was evidence of the fact that ice hockey fans were ready to embrace this new winter tradition.
The game featured several of the greatest young stars such as Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner for the Penguins past Ryan Miller in a shootout and ended the game with a score 2-1 in the most dramatic fashion.
The snowy spectacle and the Original Six Encounter - 2014 Classic - The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Red Wings met each other in the 2014 Classic at the Michigan Stadium. As both teams enjoy passionate fan bases, the event was bound to be an exciting affair. The event was originally supposed to be held on January 1, 2013, but was postponed due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout. Now the fans were anxiously waiting for the game.
The blistering snowstorm, brisk wind on the day didn’t deter fans; in fact it made the game more exciting to watch. As expected fans turned out in huge numbers to watch the interesting encounter, beating the past NHL attendance record set in 2008 (71,217). The crowd in attendance for this game was 105,491 and all these fans were treated to the best of hockey. The closely contested spectacle ended with the Maple Leafs defeating the Wings 3-2 in a dramatic shootout. It was Tyler Bozak who scored the winning shootout goal. Jonathan Bernier made two saves in the final moments which made all the difference. To this day it is regarded as one of the best Winter Classic game.
Some of the Best Rivalry Games
Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings – These NHL teams share a vicious rivalry and the fans hate each other. The Red Wings and the Blackhawks have been in and out of the same division for almost nine decades but despite the unstable history the two franchises boast of one of the oldest rivalries in sports. The two teams made their debut together and the rivalry grew in the Original Six era.
Detroit Sucks is a popular chant that the Hawk fans love and at the peak of the rivalry, fights among players were common. Hockeyfights.com quotes that the Blackhawks and Red Wings have had 245 fights in their history.
Both the teams enjoy zealous fan bases, so when the two sides meet excitement is in the air. That was the case on January 1, 2009, Winter Classic. The atmosphere was electrifying at the Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, and the players put on a thrilling show for the festive crowd of 40,818 gathered at the stadium. The game didn’t go without a clash among the players. Seabrook's hit on Daniel Cleary in this epic matchup will long be remembered when he struck him and he fell down over the boards and into Chicago's bench. The crowd loved every minute of the game. The Wings emerge as winners with a 6-4 victory.
Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues - Blackhawks have made the most appearances in the annual winter contest. The two teams have shared the same Division since 1970 and have one of the bitterest rivalries in the NHL. Whenever the two meet, a brawl often breaks out.
On January 2, 2017 the two sides met on the ice rink in front of 46,556 fans at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. Because of the rich history the two teams shared, the stage was set for an epic showdown. Fans expected a lot of emotions, passion, drama and energy and they got what they wanted.
For The St. Louis Blues it was their first outdoor NHL game and they were also playing the hosts. For the Blackhawks the 2017 Winter Classic marked their third appearance and fifth in an outdoor contest. Previously they had participated in the 2009 and 2015 Winter Classic. It was a special game for the Blues because the year marked their 50th anniversary and they were to play in front of their home crowd. And the Blues rose to the occasion winning the contest with 4-1 thanks to goalie Jake Allen and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko.
Greatest Performances by players in the NHL Winter Classics
Jonathan Bernier, Michigan Stadium, 2014 - It was the 2014 Winter Classic where 110,000 fans packed the Michigan Stadium - also famously known as the Big House - to watch the snowy spectacle that featured the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. Goalie Jonathan Bernier gave an impressive performance against all odds. He tackled the snow challenges and the high powered offence of the Red Wings to give fans a time of their life and make Winter Classic history. Bernier made a Winter Classic record with 41 saves and stopped another two breakaways in the shootout. His brilliant performance led Toronto to beat Detroit 3-2.
Sidney Crosby, Ralph Wilson Stadium, 2008 - It was January 1, 2008, the first Winter Classic was to be held between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres. More than 70,000 braved the Buffalo cold to watch the snowy spectacle. Sidney Crosby was leading the Pittsburgh Penguins and he did not disappoint. He finished the first winter classic in style by beating the Sabres with a winning goal in the shootout. The dramatic goal is remembered to this day.
Live Game Experience
This season the 2018 Winter Classic is at the Citi Field in New York City. Opened in 2009, Citi Field is located in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. As hosts, Sabres are making changes both in the arena and in their ticketing strategy to provide a better game experience. They are bringing back some old favorites like the Sabres’ flag that would be passed around the crowd and in between game play fans can count on old-school entertainment liker organ playing. Promotional nights and giveaways are also part of the plan.
If all you fans are wondering how much do winter classic tickets cost then you will be glad to know that this time efforts are being made to provide the fans with cheaper tickets.
Secure your tickets to enjoy the latest edition of Winter Classic.