Ice Hockey Teams to Face Off Outdoors at NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day

nhl-bridgestone-winter-classic-2018-posterNational Hockey League

The New York Rangers will face off against upstate rivals, the Buffalo Sabers, at the 10th annual Bridgestone NHL Classic on New Year’s Day. The game will be played outdoors at Citi Field in New York City. A high of 22 degrees and 14 mph winds are expected.

The 2018 Bridgestone NHL Classic will mark the first major sporting event of the New Year in the United States, pitting arch-rivals the New York Rangers against the Buffalo Sabers of the National Hockey League.

The game will be played at an outdoor stadium in New York City. An enthusiastic crowd of rabid New York Rangers fans is expected to brave the cold to root for their favourite team.

A large contingent of Sabers fans from Buffalo is also expected to show up, hoping to upstage their downstate rivals.

The New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabers will take to the ice at 1 pm under partly cloudy skies. Some of the most talented ice hockey players in the NHL will form part of the two competing teams’ lineups.

The 2018 NHL Winter Classic continues a tradition dating back to 1 January 2008, when the first regular-season NHL game to be played outdoors was played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, on New Year’s Day.

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Home of the New York Mets of Major League Baseball, Citi Field (pictured above) is  located at 123-01 Roosevelt Avenue in the Flushing section of Queens, New York.

In addition to hosting the New York Mets, Citi Field, has played host to such major sporting events as the 2015 World Series and the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

The stadium is also used for concerts. Beyoncé, Dave Matthews Band, Paul McCartney, the Zac Brown Band, Fleetwood Mac, and Lady Gaga have all played at the outdoor venue.

A Nostalgic Look Back …

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Orchard Park, New York – the first NHL Winter Classic was played on January 1 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 2-1 in a shoot-out before 71,217 ice hockey fans. Photo Credit: Falling Heavens via Wikimedia Commons

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Chicago, Illinois – the 2009 NHL Winter Classic was held at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 6-4 before 40,818 ice hockey fans. Photo Credit: Janey Henning via Wikimedia Commons.

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Boston, Massachusetts – the 2010  NHL Winter Classic was held at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 1-2 in overtime before 38,112 ice hockey fans. Photo Credit: Sgt. Randall A. Clinton of the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – the 2011 NHL Winter Classic was played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 3-1 before 68,111 ice hockey fans. Photo Credit: 1995hoo via Wikimedia Commons.

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The 2012 NHL Winter Classic was played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 3-2 before 46,967 ice hockey fans. Photo Credit: Centpacrr via Wikipedia Commons.

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Ann Arbor, Michigan – following the cancellation of the NHL Winter Classic in 2012 because of a player lockout, the 2014  NHL Winter Classic was played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 3-2 in a shoot out before 105,491 ice hockey fans. Photo Credit: Matthrew Barera via Wikimedia Commons.

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Washington, DC – The 2015 NHL Winter Classic was held at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. The Washington Capitals defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 2-3 before 42,832 ice hockey fans.

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Boston, Massachusetts – The 2016 NHL Winter Classic was held in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins by a score of 5-1 before 67,246 ice hockey fans.

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St. Louis, Missouri – The 2017 NHL Winter Classic was held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Blues defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 1-4 before 46,556 ice hockey fans.

Intrastate Rivals

The New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabers have faced off in 177 regular-season games since the 1970-71 NHL season, with the Sabres holding a 196-172 point advantage over their downstate rivals.

The Sabres and Rangers have also met twice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Buffalo winning both best-of-seven series, including their most recent matchup in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2007.

The Sabres top scorers from the 2016-17 season include forwards Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, and Sam Reinhart.

The Rangers tops scorers from the 2016-17 season are forward Mats Zuccarello, who led the club in scoring in 2016-17, 2017 NHL All-Star Ryan McDonagh, and veteran goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

The NHL Winter Classic has become one of the most popular events on the North American ice hockey calendar.

Five of the six most-watched NHL regular-season games in the United States since 1975 have been NHL Winter Classic games.

Bridgestone is in its ninth year as the Official Tire of the NHL. The brand has extended its partnership with the NHL through 2021.

Where to Eat

With a large immigrant community, Flushing is flush with restaurants catering to a diverse range of tastes.

TripAdvisor lists 256 seafood restaurants, 255 sushi restaurants, 143 steakhouses, 81 Chinese restaurants, 80 Korean restaurants, 70 barbecue restaurants, 41 Vietnamese restaurants,  23 Japanese restaurants – the list goes on.

You will undoubtedly work up quite an appetite watching a game in sub-freezing weather. Why not grab a bite to eat at one of the hundreds of eateries situated in the neighborhood.

Where to Stay

If you want to spend the night, there are several lodging options nearby. The following three hotels are all less than half a mile from the stadium:

How to Get to the Game

Citi Field is located in the Flushing section of Queens, one of New York City’s five boroughs.

The stadium can be reached by the New York Subway or the Long Island Rail Road. It can also be reached by bus.

The Mets/Willets Point Station on the New York Subway is a short walk from the stadium. It is served by the number 7 train, which makes stops in Manhattan at Times Square, 5th Avenue, and Grand Central Station.

There is direct service to Citi Field on the Long Island Rail Road, which departs from Penn Station in mid-town Manhattan and continues on to Woodside and all other stations on the Port Washington line.

Citi Field is also served by the Q48 bus line with connections to several other bus lines in Queens. Otherwise make connections to the number 7 train of the New York Subway from other boroughs.

If you decide to drive, parking lots near the stadium open at least three hours before the scheduled beginning of games and events.

If you don’t live in New York – or you don’t want to brave those sub-freezing temps – the New Year’s Day game will be broadcast live on NBC, Sportsnet, and TVA Sports at 1 p.m. ET.

Comment and Analysis

I am a big fan of ice hockey, and I can’t help but think that playing ice hockey games at outside stadiums captures the true essence of the sport.

Having grown up in California, however, I’m NOT a big fan of cold weather. I must admit, I’m pretty awestruck by the number of NHL fans that show up for these outdoor hockey matches!

Imagine 105,491 hockey fans braving the cold to root for the Red Wings at the football stadium of Michigan State in Ann Arbor!

Now that’s what a true ice hockey fan! As for me, however, I’d rather watch the match from the comfy confines of a toasty sports bar. But that would be the subject of another post.

Note: this post includes affiliate links.

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