I’m spoiling the ending right away by telling, for those who didn’t watch or hear, that the Toronto Mapleleafs won the National Hockey League Winter Classic game in an exciting shoot-out over their rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. I’m telling this first because to me, to us and dare I say many, many other fans, the day wasn’t just about who’s team won. In fact, I’m pretty sure there were a boat load of us who didn’t mind too much one way or the other and it wasn’t because they were too frozen to give a rip.
Alright, I know no one will be surprised to hear that we had one of the most memorable New Year’s Day’s ever.
What an honor and privilege to be there in person, in what will go down as a Guinness Book record setting attendance, watching an infamous outdoor hockey game between two “Original Six” teams – The Wings and the Leafs.
And no, honest, we weren’t really cold despite the 13 degree temperature, with the wind blowing snow in our faces (the entire time – AWESOME) to make it a perfect zero with the wind chill factored in. We didn’t really feel it, as we had…like, 12 layers of clothes on and then all our winter gear. Our feet did give us some trouble and we figured it was because metal was underfoot. We were mindful of that and remembered to squeeze our toes often making sure they didn’t get a chance to go numb.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
First off, due to most of the parking lots around the stadium normally open during football season, being closed, my forward thinking husband got our parking reserved online weeks before. We arrived at our parking garage there in Ann Arbor and walked, with a ton of other people, the mile down to Michigan stadium, loving called, The Big House.
We were so over-dressed for walking. I had to undo my jacket(s) so I wouldn’t vapor lock.
*For those who don’t know, number 13 has from day one, been my boy Jake’s favorite player. He’s a Russian named Pavel Datsyuk, a.k.a., Magic Man.
Did any of you watch on TV?
Did you see it snowed gloriously, all…day…long?
I think plenty of folks wished it hadn’t because it slowed the game down – the shovelers were on the ice every five minutes. Yes, five. Sometimes at the two minute mark. It also slowed the puck down considerably because they no sooner quit shoveling than it began to build up again. Would’ve been fine if I’d been playing but it’d be far easier to flap my arms and get to the moon than ever have that come to pass.
Anyway…I’m jumping ahead again. I’m still so excited!
After our blood pumping, power-walk to the venue we made our way through the gates with a hordes of other happy, smiling, bundled to the hilt, excited fans.
For the record, I’m not a true fan of professional hockey. Not really. Okay, because my kid, I do like the Red Wings. I like them now and don’t just root for the team “furthest west” anymore, which was my long standing, self-imposed rule due to being subjected to too much hockey on TV.
Most times, I still don’t like to see anyone “score on” either goalie probably because of Jake (again) and his time as one. I’m conditioned to see the puck “IN” the net as baaaaad. I know it, I’m a freak.
We arrived early so these two could watch the warm-ups. Little did we know then we were 45 minutes early for that. Totally didn’t matter. We were warm and soaking up the ambience. What a place! What awesome atmosphere in this football stadium/turned hockey stadium!!
As I sat there, I remembered the last time we were there in the Big House. It was our first and it was for a college football game. Ohio vs. Michigan. HUGE rivals. Oh. My. Gosh. There are no words to describe that day. Except maybe the word “scary”.
The fans were quite different this time around. No one got violent. No one pushed or shoved. No one cussed. And it didn’t drizzle cold rain. I liked this much, much better! Making it even more better wonderful….this stadium is so steep in accent (or decent) that everyone has an awesome view/seat.
I liked it a lot. But then I like love snow and I like old school type stuff. I’m no expert but I think this is how hockey was meant to be played. Outside, in the elements, with each team having to deal with whatever Mother Nature has to throw at them.
Look at this! Were we not in good company or what? Many others, some 105,000+ people were digging it as much as we were.
I never once heard anyone so much as mutter the word “cold”. And what’s more, when the game went into over-time not many got up to leave. Then, after a scoreless over-time, it went to the shoot-out, still the people stayed put! Then the Leafs got a goal and it was done. There may or may not have been a sigh of relief.
I think about half way, on our walk back up to where we parked, my feet started to feel much better.
We found our car, hastily got out of our gear, piled in and headed three hours home…in the driving snow no less. Good roads though, so no complaints. Zero!
What a great family Christmas gift.
What a New Year’s Day experience.
What a “once in a lifetime” kind of day!
And now, for fun…
The top five funny things I read on Twitter:
- “Zetterberg [Redwing player] out to the 50… the 40… the 30…” Now THAT is classic #WinterClassic” –NBC’s Doc Emrick
- “Time for your mock draft for the snow fort building during 2nd intermission.” –Jack Edwards @RealJackEdwards
- “The 6-year-old: “Daddy, when we get home, can we play hockey — inside?” -Nick Cotsonika @cotsonika
- “They should go to river [pond hockey] rules no icings, no off-sides. Snowball throwing not only allowed but encouraged.” -Jack Edwards @RealJackEdwards
- “Fan on gridlocked Winter Classic shuttle: “I hope we get there in time to catch the bus back.” -Craig Custance @CraigCustance