cloudy.png
Thursday January 20th, 2022 3:16PM

Debut host Wild eager for fittingly frigid Winter Classic

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Alex Goligoski grew up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, precisely the type of up-north community where a pair of hockey skates are as prevalent of a possession as the snowblower and the parka.

Winter activity for Goligoski and his friends was an easy pick. They took their sticks and pucks to the rink at the elementary school playground two blocks down the street from his home.

Goligoski's career on the ice is about to come full circle.

In the veteran defenseman's first season with his home-state team, the Minnesota Wild will play in the NHL's marquee outdoor event for the first time Saturday night when they face the St. Louis Blues in the Winter Classic at Target Field.

The game the Wild have long lobbied the league to host was delayed a year by the pandemic.

“If any state would appreciate an outdoor game, it would definitely be Minnesota. Those are my favorite hockey memories growing up, playing on the outdoor rink,” said Goligoski, one of nine players on the Wild roster who've participated in a fresh-air NHL game. He played for Pittsburgh in the Winter Classic in 2011 at Heinz Field.

There have been 637 players drafted in league history who were born in Minnesota, according to NHL records. That's the most of any U.S. state. Goligoski and teammates Nick Bjugstad and Rem Pitlick are the Minnesota natives on the Wild among the 49 players who have appeared in a game this season, also the most of any state.

“It is a sense of pride in that way. It’s obviously such a great organization, the way the communities support the game and how important hockey is to this state,” Goligoski said.

The Wild have played outdoors once before, in a Stadium Series game in 2016 at the University of Minnesota’s football stadium. Wild goalie Cam Talbot posted a shutout in the Heritage Classic in 2016 with the Edmonton Oilers.

“The elements are different, but the game’s the same,” Talbot said.

The Blues hosted the Winter Classic in 2017 at Busch Stadium, the home of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals. This will be the 13th edition of the Winter Classic and the 33rd outdoor game the NHL has staged.

“It’s so much fun,” said forward Marcus Foligno, who's from Buffalo, New York. “After school, you tell your buddies, ‘Hey, let’s meet here at 5 o’clock,’ and then before you know it you have 20 people out there playing.”

The Wild won't quite have their full crew. Captain and defenseman Jared Spurgeon and stalwart forward Joel Eriksson Ek won't play because of injuries. Standout defenseman Jonas Brodin is in the COVID-19 protocols, though the Wild were hoping he can be cleared in time for the game.

About that game: It's going to be awfully cold, fittingly. The temperature in the Twin Cities on Saturday was forecast to stay below zero the entire day, so the evening start time won't make it much worse. It's expected to be around minus-5 degrees at faceoff.

“I don’t know what to expect. I see how cold it’s going to be, but I don’t know how cold it will feel,” Blues goalie Jordan Binnington said earlier this week. “We’re going to do our part gearing up and do the best we can to be ready for it.”

The NHL designed the snow-covered home of the Minnesota Twins to look like a frozen lake, with a log cabin warming house in center field and eight mini-rinks to simulate pond-style play next to the main sheet of ice that was coated with 350 gallons of paint. The music stage was built like a dock. Pine trees and deer statues completed the scene, as light snow fell on Friday afternoon while each team skated through a light practice.

“It actually wasn’t bad. The fingertips were really the only things that I experienced cold. I don’t think the guys were," Wild coach Dean Evason said. “It was a little bit funky at the start, a lot of snow coming down in our eyes and the shields were getting fogged up. When it stopped snowing there, it got a lot better.”

Wild star Kirill Kaprizov won't be fazed. He's actually from Siberia.

“I loved playing as a kid and even just recently with a long break, we got a chance to go play some outdoor hockey,” Kaprizov said. "I love it. It’s always a lot of fun.”

___

More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP Online Hockey, AP Sports - Major League Baseball
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Debut host Wild eager for fittingly frigid Winter Classic
The Minnesota Wild are preparing to play in the NHL's Winter Classic for the first time
6:58PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Trio of G League referees get NBA games amid virus issues
The virus outbreak hasn’t just sent NBA teams looking for help from the G League
6:54PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Stocks end 2021 on a weak note, still notch big yearly gain
Wall Street ended 2021 on a weak note Friday, but still managed to end the year with big gains
6:46PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Devils coach Lindy Ruff tests positive, misses Oilers game
New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the Devils’ game against the Edmonton Oilers and was isolated from the team
5:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
Cincinnati DB Bryant honors late NBA star with number switch
Cincinnati star Coby Bryant changed his number from 7 to 8 for the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl against No. 1 Alabama
4:54PM ( 2 hours ago )
Hartman leads No. 20 Wake Forest to 38-10 romp in Gator Bowl
Sam Hartman tossed three touchdown passes, two of them to tight end Brandon Chapman, and No. 20 Wake Forest dominated Rutgers 38-10 in the Gator Bowl
4:43PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Column: Another socially distanced Newby Awards for 2021
We had hoped the Newby Awards could return to a bit of normalcy this year
2:55AM ( 16 hours ago )
Lockout hurts Braves' chance to cash in on championship
Perhaps no team was hurt more than Atlanta when Major League Baseball locked out its players on Dec. 2
12:01PM ( 1 day ago )
These players won (and lost) sports bettors the most in 2021
Here are some athletes who were money in the bank for sports bettors this year: Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans and Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani
5:27AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online Baseball
Nuggets-Warriors off; Rivers, Malone enter NBA protocols
The NBA postponed Golden State's game with Denver on Thursday, the same day that Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers and Denver’s Michael Malone entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols
11:21PM ( 19 hours ago )
Duclair, Huberdeau lead Panthers to 9-3 rout of Lightning
Anthony Duclair scored twice, Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and four assists, and the Florida Panthers romped to a 9-3 rout of the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning
10:14PM ( 20 hours ago )
Return of NHL taxi squads creates domino effect in minors
The NHL has brought back taxi squads amid a surge of COVID-19 cases, creating a strain on the American Hockey League, the ECHL and others down the hockey food chain in North America
2:23AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Hockey
Verlander, Astros finalize $25 million, 1-year contract
Justin Verlander’s $25 million, one-year contract with the Houston Astros has been finalized, nearly a month after it was agreed to
2:52PM ( 2 weeks ago )
'Gone': MLB umpire Tripp Gibson home in tornado-hit Mayfield
Major League Baseball umpire Tripp Gibson grew up in Mayfield, Kentucky, and is back home this week after the town was devastated by a tornado last week
1:35PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Full share on World Series champion Braves worth $397,391
A full postseason share on the World Series champion Atlanta Braves totaled $397,391 from a record player pool of $90.47 million
2:24PM ( 3 weeks ago )
AP Sports - Major League Baseball
Trio of G League referees get NBA games amid virus issues
The virus outbreak hasn’t just sent NBA teams looking for help from the G League
6:54PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Stocks end 2021 on a weak note, still notch big yearly gain
Wall Street ended 2021 on a weak note Friday, but still managed to end the year with big gains
6:46PM ( 19 minutes ago )
'So many memories': Over 500 homes feared destroyed by fire
Tens of thousands of Coloradans driven from their neighborhoods by a wind-whipped wildfire are beginning to get a look at the damage done
6:42PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Live updates: Pandemic forces changes in Nashville concert
The coronavirus pandemic is forcing some last minute changes to the concert lineup for Nashville's famed annual New Year’s Eve bash  The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation is organizing the New Year’s Eve show airing live on CBS and Paramount+
6:42PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Limited revelers return to Times Square to usher in 2022
The annual New Year's Eve ball drop in New York City's Times Square will come just as the year prior began, with the pandemic clouding an already uncertain future
6:38PM ( 28 minutes ago )