Here Comes the…NHL???

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This year's Winter Classic was held in Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend Indiana where the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks battled it out on New Year's Day.

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Here Comes the…NHL???

The NHL's famous Winter Classic had the Boston Bruins facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks. An outdoor venue, a college stadium -- but still the basic familiarity of the love of hockey.

The NHL's famous Winter Classic had the Boston Bruins facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks. An outdoor venue, a college stadium -- but still the basic familiarity of the love of hockey.

Photo by Eric Wertz

The NHL's famous Winter Classic had the Boston Bruins facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks. An outdoor venue, a college stadium -- but still the basic familiarity of the love of hockey.

Photo by Eric Wertz

Photo by Eric Wertz

The NHL's famous Winter Classic had the Boston Bruins facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks. An outdoor venue, a college stadium -- but still the basic familiarity of the love of hockey.

New Year’s Day, to most people means a day off from work or school to celebrate the New Year. To NHL fans, it means one of the best games of the season to watch as the NHL celebrates its tradition by playing a game outdoors, where hockey began being played in the 1800s.

2019, which marked the 11th year of the Winter Classic, was an Original Six matchup between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. The game was played in Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana and was the 2nd game to be played on a college campus.

One of the more interesting details with this game is that no NHL team plays in Indiana, so the NHL took a bit of a risk hosting the game here but the fans of both teams traveled well and sold out the game with 76,126 fans attending.

Both the Bruins and Blackhawks wore uniforms that honor their past, which is one of the heavily anticipated features of this event. The Bruins featured a uniform that was worn from 1932-1936, where the Blackhawks jerseys were previously in use from 1927-1934.

As the game started, the ice looked to be in great condition as the weather was cold and had no sun, snow or rain, which is perfect for this event. Nearing the midway point in the first period, David Kampf fed a pass to a wide-open Brendan Perlini to give the Blackhawks an early 1-0 lead. The crowd erupted and sang the Hawks goal song, “Chelsea Dagger”, which has been known to get in the head of opponents.

The lead didn’t last long as the Bruins took advantage of an Artem Anisimov penalty, as David Pastrnak’s shot found its way past Cam Ward to tie the game at 1. Past this goal, Ward and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask were lights out and the period ended at 1-1.

Part of the excitement of this game is the intermission entertainment and this year’s was a standout performance from the legendary band Weezer, who performed their new song “Can’t Knock The Hustle”, a single promoting their upcoming The Black Album.

The second period began with more solid goaltending from Rask and Ward as the sellout crowd looked for a reason to explode. Blackhawks fans wishes were granted as Dominik Kahun tipped in a shot from the point to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. This lead, just like in the 1st, did not last as the Bruins found themselves on another power play.

Patrice Bergeron, the best two-way forward in the league, showed off why he wins the award for Best Defensive Forward annually as he broke up a shorthanded breakaway before Rask had to face the shot. After a transition to offense, Bergeron found the puck in front of the net off of a deflection and put a backhand past Ward to tie the game up at 2, with 1:00 left in the 2nd period.

It was in the 2nd intermission where NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the events coming up in 2019-2020. This includes the first NHL game in Saskatchewan between Calgary and Winnipeg as the Heritage Classic. Also, the Winter Classic is going to be at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas where the Stars will host a team to be named later. The other outdoor series, the Stadium Series, is going to be in Colorado at the Air Force base and the game will be between the Avalanche and a team which will be announced soon.

The music in the 2nd intermission was from an up and coming Folk Rock band named Judah & The Lion who performed their breakout song “Take It All Back”.

The 3rd period started the same as the previous two with scoring chances being shut down by the stellar goaltending. Keeping up the theme, a goal was scored at the halfway point but this time it was Boston taking their first lead of the game.

Sean Kuraly, from Boston’s 4th line picked up the rebound from Matt Grzelcyk’s shot and put it into the wide open net and showed his emotion towards scoring that important goal as he leapt into the boards. This would stand up as the game-winner as the Blackhawks could not come back.

Bruins superstar Brad Marchand added an empty netter to make the score 4-2 and insure the Bruins victory.

Reports came out after the game that the concessions at Notre Dame Stadium were starting to run out of food, beer and water before the second period started. For a venue that is used to selling out Fighting Irish football games, this is a very confusing mess up that is pretty comical although not for the people there probably.

In post game interviews, David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins who is a native of the Czech Republic commented on the uniqueness of the game: “”It’s awesome. Especially because it’s an early game. It’s all over Europe. I remember watching it. It’s always a little … uh … I don’t know what the word is. Like trying to show yourself”.

The Bruins moved into the 3rd spot in the Atlantic division with the win and improve their record to 22-14-4.

Following the loss, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said “It’s a memorable moment for everybody and you want to leave the game feeling a little bit better than you are right now.”. The Hawks fall to 15-21-6 on the year.

This game was a highlight of what the Winter Classic celebrates, a good, hard-fought, exciting game of hockey that is played in the elements of winter and enjoyed by thousands of fans.

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