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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter Classic 2010: lived up to the hype and then some

I shelled out my hard-earned (haha) money for a ticket to the 2010 Winter Classic and I'll say it was one of the best investments I've ever made.

I would probably have a different opinion if the game ended in a 1-0 Flyers win (which looked like a certainty) but the Bruins' incredible comeback for a 2-1 overtime win capped off one of the best sporting events I've ever seen, let alone attended.

My buddy Jim and I sat in the bleachers under the scoreboard in center field. For a Sox game, we would have had some of the worst seats in Fenway but yesterday it worked since we were up high and therefore had good sightlines. Money baseball seats (first base, third base lines) weren't good because they were too low meaning most of the action was impossible to see.

Flyers' season-ticket holders had the chance to get tickets to the game and there were a ton of Philly fans decked out in Flyers gear. Haha, I even saw a guy wearing a white Randall Cunningham jersey. I always wonder what goes through people's heads when they were another sport's jersey to something. Bizarre.

There were hours of pomp and circumstance, some might say needless pagentry but for the most part, Boston, the NHL and the Bruins and Flyers got it right. Bobby Orr and Bobby Clarke-the greatest Bruin and Flyer-shook hands at center ice and the teams came out to fireworks after the Dropkick Murphys played "Shipping Up to Boston" on a stage near home plate. Somewhere in rehab, Steven Tyler realizes the huge opportunity he missed out on.

There was no scoring in the first period but Daniel Carcillo and Shawn Thornton brought some excitement as they had the first fight in Winter Classic history.

Philadelphia (19-18-3) opened the scoring with a gift of a goal 4:42 into the second period. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas (24 saves) went to cross check Scott Hartnell in the back but he forgot that Danny Svret had the puck as he shot it into the wide open net for his first NHL goal.

With Michael Leighton (24 saves) poised for a shutout and Boston's (21-12-7) impotent offense mucking and grinding but not much else, Mark Recchi finally gave Bruins fans something to cheer about as he scored the 1000th tip-in of his career. With just 2:18 left in the game, Recchi set up shop in front of the crease and tipped in David Krejci's perfect feed. It was a power-play goal also assisted by Derek Morris.

The Bruins rode that momentum into overtime and topped it as Marco Sturm scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season and what he called "the most memorable goal he'll ever score." It was also a tip-in, this time from Patrice Bergeron with another assist to Zdeno Chara.

In another great moment, immediately following the game Team USA's roster for the Olympics was announced one by one with little kids wearing the jerseys of the players. The last player they named was Thomas and he skated back onto the ice with a Team USA jersey and full pads on. I'm too old and cynical to get sucked into most cheeseball stuff but this was awesome.

Thomas has never played in the Olympics and he was a journeyman that really found his game a couple seasons ago. To see him skating through the line of kids, high-fiving was one of the best moments in sports that I've ever seen.

Boston still desperately needs someone to score goals for them (haha, they picked up Miroslav Satan today) and Thomas is prone to give up a dud goal in almost every game but you can accept that because he also plays great and makes stops most others can't make routinely.

The Winter Classic is a spectacular event for a league that needs moments like that to remain relevant. I can't say enough good things about my time at Fenway watching the Flyers and Bruins.

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