I realize I'm a little late given that the Winter Classic was two days ago, but I honestly needed a second to fully process the sheer magic of an absolutely dazzling experience from start to finish. An original six match up, Boston Bruins vs. Chicago Blackhawks, and boy what a game it was!
The boys set the tone marching through Knute Rockne Gate at Notre Dame Stadium looking like straight up snacks. Each donned a vintage three piece suit, complete with scally caps, fedoras, and pocket watches, like they just stepped off the set of Peaky Blinders. I couldn’t get enough. Two days later and I’m still drooling over Bruce Cassidy in that hat. My New Year’s Resolution this year is to find a way to ensure that he wears that hat at every game from here on out. The B’s couldn’t have made a finer entrance (insert heart eyes emoji here).
There was such build up and excitement in the days and weeks leading up to the game. The Winter Classic is such a special experience for the players and fans alike, and I’m absolutely over the moon that the NHL has embraced this tradition for what is now the 11th year running.
The unveiling of the jerseys definitely dialed up the anticipation for me. When I saw the Bruins 1930s throwback jersey, I almost cried it was so beautiful to behold. The varsity-style B, the gold and brown striped sleeves; I, for one, could not love the design more. Against the plain black and white of Chicago’s somewhat boring throwback, the Bruins sweaters really popped on the ice.
I think one of the things that makes the Winter Classic so special is that it calls to mind all those childhood experiences, growing up playing pond hockey with the neighborhood kids. Hearing some of the guys sharing their experiences, while at the same time recalling some of my own, stirred up such strong feelings of nostalgia that it’s easy to see why the guys enjoy it so much, win or lose.
There is nothing quite like playing ice hockey out in the open air; that sharp prickle as the cold nips at the back of your throat, the sting of the wind at your cheeks as you soar across the ice, the click and scrape of your skates that echoes across the pond. It’s an exhilaration that is not easily matched. I could practically feel that energy pulsating through Notre Dame Stadium as if I had been one of the 76,000 people in attendance.
While the Bruins didn’t have the strongest start, allowing the Blackhawks to score first, a goal by David Pastrnak would leave them tied at 1 going into the second period. Pasta has been an absolute force to be reckoned with this season and with 24 goals, he’s one of the top goal scorers in the league.
Things started looking better for the Bruins in the second period with the help of Tuukka Rask who came up with some phenomenal saves, playing arguably his best game thus far this season. However, it was Patrice Bergeron, practically perfect in every way, whose effort at the end of the second period really turned the tide of the entire game.
There's a reason Bergeron is a three time Selke Trophy winner and five time nominee, and this sequence is the perfect example of why he's the best two-way player in the game. And, why Rask commented, “Selke,” in reference to Bergy and that play, during their post-game press conference.
You really can't say enough good things about Patrice Bergeron. He's a total class act on and off the ice, which is one of the many reasons he is so well-liked and respected across the league. And, it's for that very reason his teammates seem to step it up around him. They play noticeably harder, get more pucks to the net, and that's exactly how the third period went down.
The momentum completely swung in favor of the Bruins, and although Cam Ward made some amazing saves, Sean Kuraly ultimately sealed the deal with another clutch game-winning goal halfway through the third period.
Long story short, it was an action-packed game that did not disappoint and I would have loved to be a part of that atmosphere in South Bend. It was an incredible experience for those lucky enough to be a part of it and I'm sure it won't be forgotten anytime soon.