Peters Recalls First Winter Classic

Former Sabre says weather, Crosby shootout goal most memorable

Tom Puckett
December 29, 2017 - 4:00 am

AP photo, 2008

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) As the US and Canada square off at New Era Field this afternoon in the World Junior Champioships' first ever outdoor game, a former Sabre recalls playing in the first NHL Winter Classic.

Andrew Peters, (pictured R, with WBEN's Tom Puckett) one half of WGR Sportsradio 550's The Instigators, says it was an insane atmosphere. "Walking out for warmups was overwhelming, but I don't think everyone was quite in their seats yet. But when we walked out for the game, with the bagpipes and the flames going, to hear the crowd roar, it's unbelievable. Unless you experience hearing 72,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs, it's unexplainable to be honest," says Peters. 

That said, Peters says the game was no shinny on the pond. "In the game on the pond, the hits weren't real. This was more business. Once the puck dropped, it was a hockey game," says Peters. The Winter Classic was a regular season game, with two points in the standings on the line. "We wanted to win the game so badly, not because of the two points, but it was the first Winter Classic, and you wanted to win that so bad," says Peters. He recalls being torn between the task at hand and taking it all in. "You're trying to enjoy it, but you're trying to focus on the game, but you can't help but look around. During TV timeouts, you saw everyone on the bench looking around in awe."

Peters says the weather was perfect for the game. "The weather was amazing. You want to talk about a climate perfect for an outdoor game called the Winter Classic, it was totally appopriate for that," says Peters. However, there's one memory that still sticks in his craw. "Sidney Crosby scoring in the shootout," recalls Peters. "Crosby scores that goal, and anyone else scores you're ticked off, but Crosby scores it and you're even more angry."

Peters says how the game turned out January 1, 2008 gave the NHL an avenue to do more stadium games. 

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