'Let it snow, let it snow'

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

BUFFALO -- The weather was quite frightful. But the game was quite delightful.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Big fluffy flakes of snow gave the NHL Winter Classic - the first regular season outdoor game in the U.S. - the surreal feel of 71,217 fans being inside of one of those souvenir snow globes.

And with Sidney Crosby -the new star of the sport - scoring the winning shootout goal, that made it classic, indeed.

It was suggested no outdoor game could ever get any better than the Heritage Classic in Edmonton where 57,167 sat in minus-19 C temperatures for seven hours watching two games including Wayne Gretzky and the MegaStars opener. Gretzky himself said that would always be the '72 series of these sort of things.

But the way this day went before a new NHL record crowd in plus 1C temperatures and Crosby winning it 2-1 for the Penguins, this game probably did a lot more for the NHL where they needed it, when they needed it.

PERFECT SCRIPT

Would you have scripted this game any other way than to have Christmas card snow scenes, overtime, a shootout and Sid The Kid scoring the winning goal? It has to be exactly what the NHL wanted out of the game.

"Yeah, I hope so. I hope that's the case," said Crosby. "In an atmosphere like this, I think anyone, even just the average fan watching, has to be interested in something like that. I think this game did a great job of bringing that attention.

"I think we all watched the Edmonton-Montreal game and I think a lot of guys wished they were part of it," he said. "We were lucky enough to have that opportunity. When you see 70,000 people jammed into a stadium to watch hockey, it's a good sign. The atmosphere and the environment, I think it's something to look back on and say we had a lot of great memories being part of it. It was a great feeling and a great experience."

Buffalo fans, many holding up signs such as "Look mom, no roof!" and "Hi mom, I'm at the Ice Bowl!" did more than buy the tickets. They created a memorable environment and should be as much of the story this morning as Crosby.

"When you see not a fan (leaving) through the whole game, that's pretty remarkable," said Brian Campbell, who scored the only goal for the Sabres.

"I took time to look around and I wanted to take in the whole experience and everybody seemed to be either up standing or dancing or swaying and chanting," said Sabres netminder Ryan Miller.

"It was a pretty cool experience. It was a problem being stagnant for long periods of time waiting for the ice to be scraped or the crews to come out and fix the potholes which developed. That made it a long night, but the fans really stuck with it and made it a great experience."

RUFF REVELS IN EXPERIENCE

Coach Lindy Ruff sucked in the environment at every opportunity as well.

"On breaks I looked around and it was incredible. When I looked around there didn't seem to be an empty seat and the atmosphere was incredible.

"I'd love to do this again. I thought it was awesome. I would have loved to do it (Monday) when the weather was perfect. The analogy we used at the start of the game was that the ice was a little bit like a curling rink. They pebble it. If any of you are curlers, they pebble it to make the ice keener," said the native of Warburg.

Other than that, there was no negative.

"I thought it was very good for the game. I think it really brings you back to the roots. For most players this is where it all started. I think it was good for the game. It may not be the best hockey game because of the situation, because of the weather, because of the snow, but the atmosphere was incredible."

The bottom line is that it was every bit of the hit that the Heritage Classic was in Edmonton. And they're going to be singing the "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" song again and again after this game matched that success.


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