Friday, December 14, 2007

Countdown to Ice Bowl

New Year’s Day is all about celebration. And football (ugh). But this year, it’s all about hockey, with Ice Bowl 2008.

The Pens and Sabres will meet on January 1st to play an outdoor game at the Ralph Wilson Stadium. Sweet.

I originally wanted to make the trip to Buffalo and experience Ice Bowl in the flesh, but I thought about it – it’s not called “Ice” Bowl for nothing (or ‘Winter’ Classic, as the NHL calls it). It’s gonna be frickin’ cold, sitting there for three, four, five hours.

Just ask Georges Laraque.

Laraque was an Edmonton Oiler when the team played the Habs in the Heritage Classic on November 22, 2003, and it was c-o-l-d….-29C cold. But according to Laraque, it felt like -50C with the windchill. Ugh. That’s ‘snot freezing on your face’ cold. Not a pretty sight.

The guys had to wear toques under their helmets to keep their heads somewhat warm, they wore three layers of long-sleeved polypro underwear (instead of one layer), and few of them actually wanted to play.

"It was a game where you would rather be sitting on the bench than playing because we had heaters at our bench," Laraque said. "It was the only game I've ever been in when guys didn't mind being bench warmers! And, no one was complaining about a lack of ice time. On that day, it was not a bad thing to be sitting.”

Thankfully, Buffalo isn’t like Edmonton, so it is less likely that the temperatures will dip that low – but it is winter, so who knows. Maybe it will be a blizzard, or maybe it will be 10C outside and the ice will melt (roller hockey, anyone?). In any case, the weather will certainly be the story going into the game.

Laraque won’t be the only outdoor hockey veteran playing in “Ice Bowl.” Never mind the virtual Canadian tradition of playing pond hockey all winter long – I’m guessing a lot of players have engaged in this kind of fun stuff growing up – but Ty Conklin (current Pens backup) was the starting goaltender for Edmonton, and Ryan Miller (Buffalo goalie) and Adam Hall (Pens forward) played in the “Cold War” while studying at Michigan State in 2001.

What might be a bit concerning for Pens fans is the “Classic Curse” – the Oilers were on a roll going into the Heritage classic 4 years ago, but then lost 9 of the following 10 games, and had a 3-9-4 record over the following 16 games.

They missed the playoffs by 2 lousy points. Ouch.

But we can’t start worrying about that, otherwise it will certainly happen. No need to jinx things. We should just anxiously await this event, start planning the party…

I’ll be sitting in my room, watching the game on TV with a nice cup of hot chocolate, while thousands of people freeze their asses off.

1 comment:

DaBich said...

I'm with you, girl. I'd much rather watch from my nice warm house and sip hot chocolate too! LOL