The National Hockey League put on another wonderful spectical at this years version of the Winter Classic held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The game culminated the week long festivities held in Detroit that helped bring the game of hockey to the forefront for a few days. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout.
More than 100,00 fans braved the snowy and frigid conditions to root on their teams. Mother Nature did her part in reminding people that today’s events were played outside. From the time the players stepped on the ice for warm ups until the time they all waved their sticks in the air showing their appreciation for the fans, a steady stream of powdered snow fell from the sky. Multiple times throughout the game, play had to be halted so that the ice crew could attend to snow on the ice. Even with these stoppages, there was no complaining from either team. Both the Leafs and the Red Wings accepeted the fact that they were part of something special and acted like true professionals playing through the elements.
After a fist period of both teams feeling each other out, the Detroit Red Wings were able to break through for the opening goal. Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson were able to connect on a 2-1 half way through the second period to grab the lead. The puck was deflected in off the skate of Alfredsson but after further video review the goal stood and the Wings were out in front.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to battle back and tie the score just before the horn to end the second period. Phil Kessel fired a wrist shot toward the net and James van Riemsdyk was able to collect the rebound and fire the puck over Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. The Leafs would score with just over four minutes gone in the third period. Tyler Bozak was able to tip in the shot wristed from the point by Dion Phaneuf.
The teams would continue to trade chances throughout the third period, but both Howard and Toronto Maple Leaf goalies Jonathan Bernier stood tall. Bernier, who was eventually named first star, held the leafs in the game as he stopped 41 of the 43 shots fired at him. Justin Abdelkader was finally able to tie the score with just over five minutes left in the game. On a good forecheck play, Detroit defenceman Brendan Smith pinched down low and threw the puck out front and with a nifty deflection, Abdelkader snuck it by Howard’s pad and inside the post to tie the game.
The game would go to overtime and neither Howard nor Bernier would give an inch. The teams would go to the shootout and the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to come out on the winning end when Tyler Bozak fired a neat little wrist shot past the low blocker side of Jimmy Howard for the winning shootout goal.
The sea of blue and red that over took the usual maize and blue of the Big House were treated to another fantastic outdoor event. Once a year the National Hockey League goes out of its way to showcase this beautiful game we all love. Once again, it ends in success.