Outdoor hockey. It just sounds awesome. Pucks cracking against the boards, skates slicing across the ice. Fifty, sixty, seventy thousand fans or more. The NHL is playing two outdoor games in 2017: The NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and the 2017 NHL Stadium Series in Pittsburgh. For hockey fans, outdoor games are a chance to get back to the game’s roots. We’ve got everything you need to know about how to score tickets for the best views and a little outdoor hockey history for you.
2017 Winter Classic: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues
Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
Two of the top teams in the NHL Western Division face off in the 2017 Winter Classic when the Blackhawks play the Blues at Busch Stadium. These two cities are fierce rivals in baseball and hockey, and we can’t wait to see the competition come to life outdoors.
Great seats still remain for the game, to be played January 2, 2017. The ice will be set in the infield to give fans the best view of the action from throughout Busch Stadium. You’ll be able to choose if you want to sit up high and take in a great view of the Gateway Arch over the ice, or if you want to sit down close and feel the action.
2017 Stadium Series: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Outdoor hockey returns to Pittsburgh when the Flyers and Penguins renew their intrastate rivalry at Heinz Field. Slated for February 25, 2017, it will be the first outdoor game at Heinz since it hosted the 2011 Winter Classic. The hometown Penguins will be looking for a better outcome, however, as they lost that game to the Washington Capitals 3-1.
The ice will be placed right in the middle of the football field (Heinz Field is the regular home of the Pittsburgh Steelers) in order to provide awesome views from every seat in the house. Up high, down low and on either side, no matter where you sit, you’ll have a great vantage point.
Of course so much of outdoor NHL games is tied to history – not just of hockey but of sports itself. We thought it would be fitting to take a look back at how the Winter Classic and Stadium Series has made, and been a part of, sports history.
2016 Winter Classic: Montreal vs Boston
The 2016 Winter Classic was held at Gillette Stadium, known to most sports fans as the home of the New England Patriots. The Canadiens stomped over the Bruins 5-1, but it may be most remembered for what happened the Thursday before the game: Bruins coach Claude Julien invited legendary Patriots head coach Bill Belichick out on to the ice during Boston’s practice. You can view the adventure here. Not seen on video: Belichick fell twice.
Where Was the First Winter Classic?
The first NHL Winter Classic was held at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, New York, on January 1, 2008. Now called New Era Field, “the Ralph” is the home of the Buffalo Bills but for one day played home to the Buffalo Sabres and visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. The game went tied through overtime and Penguins great Sydney Crosby won it in the shootout.
All-Time Top Winter Classic Moments
It’s not just that great moments occur during Winter Classic games, it’s where they occur. Pavel Datsyuk carves up the defense for a beautiful goal in the same Wrigley Field where Babe Ruth once played. Marco Sturm scores an overtime game winner in Fenway Park, home of Ted Williams. You only find that unity of present day heroics and sports history with the Winter Classic, and you only get to experience it in person when you go to the game.
The Largest Crowd in NHL History
The 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium drew 105,491 fans, easily the largest crowd to ever see an NHL game. But did you know a technical glitch prevented it from setting a Guinness World Record? Bad weather delayed fans arriving at the game and so many arrived after ticket takers stopped scanning tickets that there was no way to certify the record.
What’s the Coldest Outdoor NHL Game?
This one will test the mettle of even the heartiest hockey fans. The 2003 Heritage Classic game in Edmonton was played in temperatures that reach -22ºF. Those 57,000 fans deserve an award.
What’s The Warmest Outdoor NHL Game?
If you guessed the game played at Dodger Stadium in sunny southern California, you would have been right…until 2016. The 2016 Stadium Series game at Coors Field between Detroit and Colorado set the record: 65 degrees at puck drop. That beat out the Ducks vs Kings game at Chavez Ravine by only three degrees.
Or, you can look at it this way: That was 88º warmer than the game in Edmonton.