The crisp feel of the frigid wind as it blows in your face. The sight of your breath as you breathe in and out the fresh winter air. The sound of your skate edges while you are gliding down the pond. The huge smile on your face as you experience the pure joy of playing outside on the frozen pond or home-made backyard rink.
Once again, the National Hockey League showcase game is upon us. The 2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic is set to be played tomorrow afternoon at “The Big House” on the University of Michigan Campus. The game will feature two of the original six franchises as the Detroit Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. The players will be set to skate in front of a record crowd of over 100,000 passionate fans.
For many of the players, this game is a gateway of sorts back to their roots. The playing for fun with friends on a frozen pond. The game they played with no referees, no scoreboards, no lines painted on the ice. They used nets made of wood, used shovels instead of Zambonis and boards were made of snow. The outdoor rink, the frozen pond is where most players began their love and passion for the game of hockey.
Sure the weather may cause some issues in the game tomorrow but as kids growing up that was never a concern and as Detroit Redwing goaltender Jimmy Howard was recently quoted as saying;
Once the adrenaline gets pumping you’ll be all right. Isn’t it supposed to snow as well? I think Mother Nature is just going to throw everything at us. I think you just got to embrace it, enjoy it, have fun. Just remember it’s a game and how we used to do it when we were little kids playing outdoors.
Although this game is technically not for fun as two valuable points are up for grabs in the Eastern Conference standings, the chance for the players to play in such a game and be part of such a wonderful event is something each player will cherish for years to come.
As fans, we will never actually get to experience playing in the game, but with this game, we are allowed to go back to our childhood days and recreate our own fond memories of skating on the frozen pond.