More Than A Game: The Winter Classic

Jan 1, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; (EDITORS NOTE: image generated by stitching multiple photographs into a panorama) A general view of Michigan Stadium during the 2014 Winter Classic hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Winter Classic was a battle between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs under the lights in the Big House, but it was much more than just a game between the two storied organizations.

As the snow started to fall before the game it made getting to game much more difficult, but it did keep the temperature from dropping too far and it made the perfect scene for an outdoor game at The Big House.

It was an event, which joined together two long storied fan-bases in the snow to make it the highest attended hockey game in the history of the sport.

On the side of the ice where the Red Wings’ bench was located the stands were predominately red, while the Leafs’ side of the ice was very blue. Normally when fans attend games there is a mixture in the crowd and while there were speckles of red and blue on both sides, there was a distinct split at the 50 yard line in the Big House.

As the fans continued to stand in the snow, it was up to the players to play through it and not let it affect their game, but with the amount of snow falling onto the ice, not letting it affect their game was a tough job.

Thankfully the ice crew was ready for this scenario and during the TV timeouts the ice crew was clearing the ice.

WC

They these sweeps took place often and each time there was an exorbitant amount of snow being taken off of the ice.

During the intermissions to keep snow off the ice the miniature Zambonis continuously resurfaced the ice until the teams were back on the ice, but even that could not hold back the elements because after a few minutes the snow was piling back up on the ice.

Even with the snow falling, the freezing cold, and the large amount of Toronto Maple Leaf fans in the stadium; nothing could take away from the majesty of being in the crowd.

Everyone around me was standing for the entirety of game, which could have been because of the cold or because the energy in the building despite a performance which might not have been the most exciting for either fanbase.

As goals started to be scored by both sides, the stadium erupted and when Justin Abdelkader tied up the game at least 50,000 fans went insane to create a cheer that rivaled most cheers in Joe Louis Arena.

Although with the weather and ice conditions I figured that Daniel Alfredsson‘s lead of goal would be the only one scored, but I could not fault Jimmy Howard on either of the goals the Leafs scored.

With the cheers come the boos and there were no louder boos than when the refs stopped the 5 minute overtime half way through so the teams could switch sides. which was an awful idea and a decision they choose not to do next time.

Changing sides in a twenty-minute period to make sure neither team has an advantage over the other is fine, even though 3 out of the 4 goals were scored on the “better side”, but changing sides in the 5 minute overtime period was outrageous.

Maple Leaf fans might be happy about the stoppage because Henrik Zetterberg was breaking in a Jonathan Bernier all alone and the game could have been over, but it was not to be.

As the game went to a shootout, it felt as if the game lost a bit of its luster. For a game of this magnitude it might have been a better option to have a playoff overtime structure or at least have a full 20 minute overtime rather than five minutes.

Unfortunately for Detroit and their fans the Maple Leafs were able to best Jimmy Howard in the shootout to claim victory.

Despite the loss, going to the Big House and watching the Detroit Red Wings play outdoors was an amazing experience for everyone who was at the game or watching the game on TV.

Hopefully we can do it again soon.

Topics: Detroit Red Wings, NHL, Winter Classic

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