Every New Year's Day since 2008, hockey fans have watched the NHL Winter Classic, which pits two teams against each other in a regular-season game—but instead of hitting the ice in an enclosed arena, the teams play hockey as it was intended to be played: outside. Yesterday, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings faced off in Ann Arbor's Michigan Stadium, usually home to the University of Michigan's football team. You can see how the stadium was transformed in the time-lapse video below.
During the game, it snowed a lot, with wind chill causing temperatures to drop to -1 degrees Fahrenheit. The Leafs eventually won the game in a 3-2 shootout victory. Here are a few fun photos from the game.
1. Throwback Sweaters
It's Winter Classic tradition for teams to wear throwback jerseys. Detroit's sweaters—seen here on Captain Henrik Zetterberg (#40)—were a combination of the 1920s-era Detroit Lions uniforms, the winged wheel from the 1930s Red Wings, and the font and number system from the 1980s. Toronto's jerseys—as seen on Jake Gardiner (#51)—got their stripes from the Leafs 1930s uniforms with the inaugural Leafs logo from 1924; the neckline comes from the team's 1960s jerseys and the stitch on the numbers is inspired by its 1950s uniforms. "Each NHL Winter Classic uniform is an embodiment of that team's core brand values and represents memorable milestones in that team's history," Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing, said in a press release.
2. A little something extra
Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier donned a tuque (or knit hat) over his helmet to keep heat from escaping. The leg pads and blockers he and Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard wore are reminiscent of old-school leather pads.
3. Taking a Fall
During the first period, the Red Wings' Brendan Smith (#2) lost an edge and fell to the ice.
4. Where's the puck?
Bernier scrambles to make a save.
5. Let it Snow
According to Weather.com, it snowed 5.2 inches in Ann Arbor yesterday. During breaks in the action, workers removed the snow from the ice with shovels.
The snow made playing pretty tough. "Sometimes you're skating with the puck and then the puck was behind you, because it hit a pile of snow or something," Detroit's Brendan Smith told Sports Illustrated. It was so cold that the tape on the players' sticks lost its stickiness, making puck control difficult.
Cold temperatures couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd: More than 105,000 people came out to see the game, which also delivered record ratings for NBC.
The Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader (#8) celebrates his third-period goal, which tied the game 2-2.
9. On the Bench
Leafs players watch the game from the bench. (Players on both sides wore eye black to cut down on glare and improve contrast sensitivity.) Head coach Randy Carlyle (standing) told the New York Times that “the snow coming down brought back a lot of memories from a childhood of playing outside. Growing up in northern Ontario, I never really played indoors until I was 14 years old."
10. For the Win
After 60 minutes of regulation time and 5 minutes of sudden-death overtime, the game went to a shootout. In the third round, Toronto's Tyler Bozak (#42) got the puck past the Red Wings' Howard. Despite his team's loss, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told the New York Times, “Today was spectacular. It was a home run for hockey.”
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.