ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The Winter Classic will include a third period that will be played differently than any other NHL game.
Because wind might be a factor, the league wants the teams to have equal time with the wind at players’ backs. So, play will be stopped Tuesday at the 10-minute mark of the third period and the goalies will switch ends.
If Sidney Crosby happens to be on a breakaway as the timer reaches 10:00, too bad. Play stops.
CREW READY: Dan Craig, facilities operations manager for the NHL, will be on skates during the Winter Classic in case he’s needed to help clear snow from the ice in the temporary rink in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Weather forecasts call for 10 to 15 centimetres of snow overnight and Tuesday morning, but Craig has his Zambonis fuelled and isn’t overly concerned about the white stuff.
“Overnight, it’s just going out there with the Zams and going back out there,” he says. “With the wind, (snow) goes right along the wall”.
“So, it’s really easy to take one pass with the machine alone the outside wall and we pick up ninety per cent of it.”
Winds in excess of 25 kilometres an hour could hinder skating, but it won’t blow down the boards.
“There is cable up on the tall glass so everything is going to be held in place very securely,” says Craig.
TOO HOT: The tuque Sabres forward Jason Pominville wore during practice Monday will come off for the big game. He doesn’t need it, he says, and he’d like it if somebody turned down the heaters at the players’ benches.
“I thought it was too warm at the benches,” he said.
DID IT BEFORE: Four players on the Buffalo and Pittsburgh active rosters – the Sabres’ Ryan Miller and the Penguins’ Ty Conklin, Adam Hall and Georges Laraque – have previously played in large-scale outdoor games.
Miller and Hall were Michigan State teammates for the 2001 “Cold War” against the University of Michigan in East Lansing, Mich., and will be opponents this time.
Laraque played for the Edmonton Oilers in the first NHL regular-season outdoor game, the 2003 Heritage Classic against the Montreal Canadiens at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.
Penguins goalie Ty Conklin was the starting goalie for the Oilers in the Heritage Classic. He allowed four goals on 23 shots in a 4-3 loss to Montreal.
“Normally, I just wear long underwear underneath, but I had a full-body neoprene suit,” Conklin recalls. “It was about an eighth-inch, maybe three-sixteenths, thick, like a diving suit. It did the trick. I wasn’t nearly as cold as I thought I was going to be.”
Adam Mair of the Sabres also played in an outdoor game during the 2004-2005 lockout season in his home city of Hamilton. It poured rain in Ivor Wynne Stadium.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCES: Irish tenor Ronan Tynan will sing “God Bless America” and Sabres anthem singer Doug Allen will perform “O Canada” prior to the start of the game Tuesday (1 p.m. ET).
Sam Roberts, the three-time Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter, will perform songs from his band’s latest album “Chemical City” during the second intermission.
Below 73,000 empty seats, Roberts rehearsed on a stage a stone’s throw from the rink as a Zamboni resurfaced the ice late Monday afternoon.