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2008 NHL Winter Classic
Winter Classic logo.jpg
1 2 3 OT SO Total
Pittsburgh 1 0 0 0 1 (2/3) 2
Buffalo 0 1 0 0 0 (1/3) 1
Date January 1, 2008
Arena Ralph Wilson Stadium
City Orchard Park, New York
Attendance 71,217

The 2008 NHL Winter Classic also known as the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic was a National Hockey League game played on January 1, 2008, at 1:27 p.m. ET, outdoors at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. It was the first regular-season outdoor professional ice hockey game to be played in the United States, and was sponsored by AMP Energy.[1] It was the successor to the Heritage Classic, the NHL's first regular-season outdoor game, played in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Ralph Wilson Stadium is the home to the National Football League's Buffalo Bills, and because of this, the game is colloquially referred to as the "Ice Bowl."

The game, which was played at a temporary ice rink built on the football field at Ralph Wilson Stadium, set an NHL attendance record of 71,217.[2] The home team was the Buffalo Sabres, and they hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins won the game, 2-1 in a shootout, on a goal by captain Sidney Crosby.[3]

The Sabres held a Winter Classic "house party" at HSBC Arena during the game where another 11,000 fans saw the game shown live on the arena's video scoreboard with synched-up audio from the team's radio coverage.[4][5] The Buffalo Sabres Alumni Hockey Team played a pre-game at the HSBC Arena as part of the house party festivities.[6]

Buffalo Sabres anthem singer Doug Allen sang the Canadian national anthem, as is customary at Sabres home games.[7] and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan performed "God Bless America" before the game at the stadium.



Construction of the outdoor rink began on December 24, the day after the Buffalo Bills played their last home game of the 2007 NFL season.[8] It was built between the 16-yard lines of the football field,[3] under the supervision of NHL facilities operations manager Dan Craig. Initially, six inches (150 mm) of the nine-inch (230 mm) crown of the football field had to be leveled using styrofoam insulation. On top of the newly-created flat surface, three inches (75 mm) of plywood with plastic covering were laid as a base for the necessary piping. At the same time the boards were being put in place, an inch of sand was spread amongst the piping and was then wet by a combination of hoses and timely rain so it could freeze into a rink overnight and be painted four days before the game.[9] Another ¾ of an inch of ice was added to complete the playing surface.[10]

After this experience, Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that the league would like more time to prepare the site for the next outdoor game.[11] He also wants to make sure that there are not too many outdoor games so the event can remain special.[12]


View from inside the stadium during the opening ceremony

71,217 people attended the game, setting an NHL attendance record.[2] The former NHL record of 57,167 was set at the Heritage Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton, Alberta, on November 22, 2003.[8] Georges Laraque and Ty Conklin are the only two players who have played in both the Heritage Classic and Winter Classic games. They both played for the Oilers and Penguins, respectively, for each game.[13]

While it was the record for a professional game, it fell short of the all-time number of 74,554, which was set in "The Cold War" between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University on October 6, 2001.[14] Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller and Penguins forward Adam Hall both played for Michigan State in that game.[15]

Approximately 41,000 tickets to the game were made available to the general public, selling out within 30 minutes of being made available on September 18, 2007.[16] In the face of controversy about the quickness of ticket sales, an official spokesperson for the Sabres called it "a testament to how popular the Sabres are and how many people want to be part of the event."[17] However, many Penguins fans were left out by not having the opportunity to purchase the tickets after they were made available to the city hosting the event, and they were frustrated by the lack of exclusivity for Penguins season-ticket holders.[18]

Television and radio coverage

The game was televised in the United States on NBC and in Canada on CBC and RDS. Westwood One broadcasted the game on radio, and XM Satellite Radio aired the game, as well.[19] Some NBC affiliates in the United States decided instead to play the game on secondary channels often used for weather service. Therefore, in some markets, fans with satellite service with DirecTV or DISH Network were unable to watch the game. Despite this, and competing with broadcasts of college football bowl games (this was particularly noted in the Detroit, Michigan market, usually a strong market for hockey ratings, where the Wolverines were playing in the Capital One Bowl), the game garnered a 2.6 rating and 5 share, the highest rating for a regular season NHL game since 1996, and the highest share since Wayne Gretzky's final game in 1999,[20] in a near tie with second-place CBS's 2.7 rating for Gator Bowl coverage.[21] The production earned a 38.1 rating in Buffalo and 17.7 rating in Pittsburgh, to lead all markets.[20]

Westwood One carried a nationwide radio broadcast of the game, as did each team's local announcing team for local networks (Rick Jeanneret and Harry Neale for Buffalo, Mike Lange and Phil Bourque for Pittsburgh).

NBC had an airplane flying overhead to provide bird's-eye views of the rink, including a live webstream from its camera throughout the game.[22] The announcers stood in a constructed perch on the penalty box side of the rink, in front of the stadium stands. Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Darren Pang comprised the TV broadcast team for NBC,[23] while Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson and Greg Millen called the game on CBC.[24]

Rule changes

The NHL also announced that several rule changes were in effect for this game, to nullify advantages to either team due to the weather conditions.[25] The teams switched ends halfway through the third period. Play was interrupted exactly at the 10:00 minute mark,[26] similar to the end of a period with a horn sounding,[27] a zamboni resurfacing the ice, and a faceoff following at center ice. The overtime period was similarly divided into two 2:30 segments. In the shootout, each goaltender was permitted to choose which goal to defend, and they each chose the same goal, towards the west side of the stadium.[3]

Game summary

The teams wore vintage jerseys for the event, with the Penguins wearing powder blue jerseys for the first time since 1973. The Sabres wore their old white jerseys, which they wore from 1978 to 1996.[28] The game was part of the regular 2007–08 NHL season schedule, replacing a game that would have been held at HSBC Arena, the Sabres' regular home. In addition, the goaltenders also dressed in vintage style, with Ty Conklin and Ryan Miller both wearing retro-painted masks. Ryan Miller also wore a hockey sock on top of his mask,[3] which he changed during each intermission so he could auction all three of them off for charity along with his mask.[29][30] Penguins backup Dany Sabourin wore a set of vintage-styled pads but did not play.[31]

Weather for the game was appropriate to the winter setting it was intended to evoke, with game-time temperatures around the freezing mark and snow falling for much of the time, especially during the third period. The weather conditions made play somewhat more difficult for players but were well-received by fans.[32]

The Penguins registered 25 shots on goal, and the Sabres had 37, dominating the second and overtime periods, leading those 14-2 and 7-0, respectively. Each goalie allowed one goal in playing time not including the shootout, giving Ty Conklin 36 saves for the Penguins, and Ryan Miller 24 for the Sabres.

Scoring summary

Period Team Goal Assist(s) Time Score
1st PIT Colby Armstrong (6) Sidney Crosby (37) 0:21 1-0 PIT
2nd BUF Brian Campbell (4) Tim Connolly (23), Daniel Paille (11) 1:25 1-1
3rd No scoring
Overtime No scoring
Shootout Team Shooter Goaltender Result SO Score
BUF Ales Kotalik Ty Conklin goal 1-0 BUF
PIT Erik Christensen Ryan Miller miss 1-0 BUF
BUF Tim Connolly Ty Conklin save 1-0 BUF
PIT Kristopher Letang Ryan Miller goal 1-1
BUF Maxim Afinogenov Ty Conklin save 1-1
PIT Sidney Crosby Ryan Miller goal 2-1 PIT
Penguins win shootout 2-1[33]
Penguins win game 2-1

Penalty summary

Period Team Player Penalty Time PIM
1st BUF Tim Connolly Hooking 4:22 2:00
BUF Maxim Afinogenov Hooking 7:16 2:00
BUF Thomas Vanek Holding 12:17 2:00
PIT Colby Armstrong Goaltender Interference 13:02 2:00
2nd No penalties
3rd PIT Colby Armstrong Hooking 20:00 2:00
Overtime No penalties

Team rosters

Pittsburgh Penguins Buffalo Sabres
# Player[34] Position # Player[35] Position
4 United States Rob Scuderi D 5 Finland Toni Lydman D
5 Canada Darryl Sydor D 6 Czech Republic Jaroslav Spacek D
11 Canada Jordan Staal C 9 Canada Derek Roy C
12 United States Ryan Malone LW 10 Sweden Henrik Tallinder D
16 Canada Erik Christensen C 12 Czech Republic Ales Kotalik RW
17 Czech Republic Petr Sykora RW 19 United States Tim Connolly C
18 United States Adam Hall LW 20 Canada Daniel Paille LW
19 United States Ryan Whitney D 22 Canada Adam Mair RW
20 Canada Colby Armstrong RW 26 Austria Thomas Vanek LW
27 Canada Georges Laraque RW 28 United States Paul Gaustad C
30 Canada Dany Sabourin1 G 29 Canada Jason Pominville RW
35 United States Ty Conklin G 30 United States Ryan Miller G
37 Finland Jarkko Ruutu LW 35 Canada Jocelyn Thibault1 G
38 United States Jeff Taffe C 37 United States Michael Ryan C
44 United States Brooks Orpik D 38 Canada Nathan Paetsch D
48 Canada Tyler Kennedy RW 45 Russia Dmitri Kalinin D
55 Russia Sergei Gonchar D 51 Canada Brian Campbell D
58 Canada Kristopher Letang D 55 Germany Jochen Hecht LW
71 Russia Evgeni Malkin LW 61 Russia Maxim Afinogenov RW
87 Canada Sidney Crosby C 76 Canada Andrew Peters LW
Canada Head Coach: Michel Therrien Canada Head Coach: Lindy Ruff[27]
1 Thibault and Sabourin served as reserve goaltenders and did not see playing time.

Future games

Due to the success of the Winter Classic and Heritage Classic, outdoor games have been held during subsequent seasons. On January 1, 2009, the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 in the 2009 game played at Wrigley Field in Chicago.[36] The next NHL Winter Classic will take place January 1, 2010, at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins. This game is planned to be a regular feature of future NHL seasons.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Marketwire (2007-09-17). "Sabres and Penguins to Play Outdoors on New Year's Day". Press release. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  2. ^ a b Burnside, Scott (2008-01-01). "Winter Classic: We're live from Buffalo". Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  3. ^ a b c d Podell, Ira (2008-01-01). "Crosby lifts Penguins in Winter Classic". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-02-16.  
  4. ^ "Sabres to Host Winter Classic House Party". Buffalo Sabres. 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  5. ^ "Happy, Happy New Year". 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-01-15.  
  6. ^ Pitts, Matt (2008-01-01). "Fans Fill HSBC Arena For Winter Classic House Party". WGRZ-TV. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  7. ^ "Due to wind, Winter Classic will have different format than other games". Canadian Press. 2007-12-31. Retrieved 2008-02-07.  
  8. ^ a b "Sabres to host Penguins in outdoor game". Canadian Press. 2007-09-17. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  9. ^ Rosen, Dan (2007-12-27). "Rain, rain come our way!". Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  10. ^ Rosen, Dan (2007-12-27). "Behind the ice". Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  11. ^ Erskine, Scott (2008-01-26). "Bettman holds All-Star 'State of NHL' address". PA SportsTicker. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  
  12. ^ "NHL commissioner Bettman says outdoor game in Chicago would make sense". Canadian Press. 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2008-03-07.  
  13. ^ "Laraque recounts the Heritage Classic". 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  14. ^ "Recent outdoor games". 2007-09-17. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  15. ^ Roarke, Shawn P. (2007-12-10). "NHL players have fond memories of 'The Cold War'". Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  16. ^ "Winter Classic Tickets Soldout". Buffalo Sabres. 2007-09-18. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  17. ^ Mendola, Nick (2007-09-17). "Gilbert Explains Winter Classic Tickets". WGR 550. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  18. ^ Rossi, Rob (2007-09-19). "Fans outraged over Winter Classic ticket shortage". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2008-02-22.  
  19. ^ Roarke, Shawn P. (2007-09-17). "Happy New Year! Pens, Sabres to play outside in Buffalo". Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  20. ^ a b "TV ratings bonanza for Winter Classic". Associated Press. 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-02-16.  
  21. ^ Zelkovich, Chris; McGran, Kevin (2008-01-03). "'Ice Bowl' proves to be hot ticket for league, NBC". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  
  22. ^ "NBC Sports to broadcast first U.S. outdoor game in NHL history on New Year's Day". NBC Sports. 2007-12-27. Retrieved 2008-02-16.  
  23. ^ Buccigross, John (2008-01-03). "My 'Classic' hangover ... and predictions for Ovechkin". Retrieved 2008-01-15.  
  24. ^ Houston, William (2007-12-26). "Winter Classic on thin ice". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2008-01-15.  
  25. ^ "AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic third period will be two 10-minute segments". 2007-12-29. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  26. ^ Molinari, Dave (2007-12-31). "Winter Classic set up unusual". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  27. ^ a b McKeon, Ross (2008-01-01). "Live from the Winter Classic". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  28. ^ "Sabres and Penguins to sport retro look outdoors". Buffalo Sabres. 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  29. ^ Starkey, Joe (2008-01-02). "Pens' Conklin conquers Sabres again". Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  30. ^ Wheeler, Brian (2007-12-26). "BTB Blog: Miller sports new mask for Classic". Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  31. ^ "Pens G Conklin gets starting nod, making him 2-for-2 in NHL outdoor games". Associated Press. 2007-12-31. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  32. ^ Dietsch, Richard (2008-01-02). "The great outdoors". Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  33. ^ "Shootout Summary". National Hockey League. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  34. ^ "Time On Ice Report Away Team". National Hockey League. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2008-01-03.  
  35. ^ "Time On Ice Report Home Team". National Hockey League. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2008-01-03.  
  36. ^ "Blackhawks to host Red Wings at historic Wrigley Field in NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day". 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  

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