Well, fans, Christ has come and gone, which means only one thing: the NHL Winter Classic is upon us. Duster Dan is here to give you everything you need to know to enjoy one of hockey’s most exciting events.
The Showdown: The Boston Bruins will be taking on the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at 12pm (Central). This season, the Bruins are 20-14-4 with 44 points, and Chicago is 14-20-6 with 34 points. Boston will be skating without David Backe,s following a three game suspension for his illegal hit to the head of New Jersey Devils’ right wing, Blake Coleman.
The Venue: This year, the NHL Winter Classic will take place at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IL.
The Catch: for those unfamiliar with the event, it is held outdoors. Thats right, sports fans! The two teams will oval-off in a hockey rink built inside of an outdoor football stadium.
This is one of my favorite traditions of professional hockey; the one game a year where two teams will get to face off under the vast sky, instead of an artificial dome. This harkens back to the days of each and every one of these men skating on fresh pond ice with their friends. The players seem to have a great time, skating well and are typically in good spirits. The atmosphere is competitive, but playful. It is not uncommon that these games have snow falling at some point during play.
This Year’s Kicker: South Bend’s weather forecast. The air temperature at the time of the puck drop will be a balmy 29 degrees, but the wind chill should be around 15 degrees, due to the 17 MPH forecasted winds. Think about it: when was the last time you spent any considerable amount of time out doors during a sub-freezing day with considerable wind? If the answer is, “ever”, you know these players and fans are in for a cold day.
The Can’t Miss NYE/Game Day Plan: If I were still living in Chicago, and planned on going to the game, I would spend New Years Eve in Logan Square, bar hopping between Hopewell Brewing, Heavy Feather, Scofflaw, and settling in at Best Intentions with the migrating hipsters, sipping Hamm’s and shooting Jeppson’s Malort (if you have never tried it, do. Or, don’t).
When the bars close at 4AM, groggily make your way to Millennium Station and hop on the South Shore Line Train, the direct line between Chicago and South Bend. Tickets are $13.50 each way, and give you a few hours to sleep one off.
Luckily, Uber has made its way to Notre Dame. Get a car, and find whatever local greasy spoon diner you can find for a solid protein breakfast, with black, shitty coffee. Just don’t forget the hash browns!
The funny thing about South Bend is that everyone is connected to Notre Dame, somehow. It is mind-boggling. Your Uber driver is likely an adjunct professor of threading rosary beads, or something of that nature.
When you make your way to Notre Dame Stadium, be sure you have enough battery in your phone to pull up your Stub Hub app. Right now, you can still get a game ticket for $60. If not, I am sure some well meaning scalper will have one for you, at additional cost.
The puck drops at noon, but the first intermission is really what you’ll want to see. Why? Weezer is preforming.
All in all, budget around $400 for the whole event. New Years Eve, train tickets, Uber, meals, bar tabs, and game tickets add up.
If you decide to go, stay safe, and drink lots of water. Also, dress warmly. There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment.