To much of the sports world, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough is known as home to the Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots. But for hockey fans and everyone working in and within the NHL, Gillette Stadium means one thing right now: home to The Bridgestone 2016 NHL Winter Classic where the Boston Bruins will battle the Montreal Canadiens outdoors, on January 1st.
What a way to start the New Year!
For those unfamiliar with just how big of a rivalry there is between Boston and Montreal – consider this – Boston and Montreal have played more than 900 times, including 34 series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The actual game and rivalry aside, the transformation and everything it takes to turn a massive football field into a rink is quite a daunting task. But nothing Dan Craig, the man in charge of building the entire ice rink, can’t handle.
“Craig and his crew will remain on site during the Christmas break. They will constantly spray the surface throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to build a 1-inch base by Dec. 26, when the ice will be painted white. Two days later, the rink markings and logos should be down, followed by the building of another half-inch of ice.
According to Craig, the ice should be ready for use on Dec. 29. As has become custom, he and his crew will be the first ones to be on the ice, testing it out before it serves as the host for several Winter Classic-related events, including an alumni game, a women’s game, team practices and sponsorship skates,” via a recent NHL news article.
This will be the second NHL Winter Classic held in Boston – the first took place at Fenway Park back in 2010 where the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers in a 2-1 overtime win.
The 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be just one of three games held outdoors during the 2015-2016 season. One takes place Feb. 21 (which just so happens to be dubbed Hockey Day in America) at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, which will feature the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. Almost a week later, the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings are slated to play at Coors Field in Denver.
The New Year’s Day outdoor game at Foxborough will be broadcast live nationally on NBC in the U.S. and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada at 1 p.m. ET.
Want to feel like you’re behind the scenes? Click here to see the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic web cam and search the hashtag #BACKOUTDOORS to see what fans and players are saying about the game.
Personally we love all the outdoor games, what about you?
Be sure to get all your NHL fan apparel, including licensed NHL jerseys at Perani’s.
Fun Fact: Did you know the first NHL-affiliated outdoor game took place in 2003 in Edmonton?