NHL Winter Classic: Rangers Win was Simply Amazin’ • Latino Sports

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NHL Winter Classic: Rangers Win was Simply Amazin’

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FLUSHING – There’s a rather interesting quote from the sci-fi motion picture Star Trek II Wrath of Khan that this veteran baseball writer could easily relate to from my first experience covering the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

The sports venue for this highly anticipated matchup just so happens to be in a familiar workplace for me and the rabid fans of Flushing who follow another professional team. For the sellout crowd of 41,821 jubilant hockey fans who didn’t enter Madison Square Garden but an actual Major League Baseball ballpark, their riveting experience was simply – Amazin’.

As I recall, it was in this movie scene that the beloved character Mr. Spock, in his familiar monotone voice said, “For everything, there is a first time.”

As a sports writer who has written extensively on the game of baseball, I picked the perfect opportunity (although not the unbelievably cold weather) to cover my very first NHL game at Citi Field, home of the N.Y. Mets. How ironic that I would be seated in the same press box where I would normally be during the baseball season but watching an entirely different sport.

And for someone who had never seen a hockey game in its entirety, this once-in-a-lifetime experience could only be described as… honesty – different.

But prior to the matchup between the New York Rangers (21-13-5) and Buffalo Sabres (10-20-9) the pre-game Pomp and Circumstance ceremony had all of the familiar ingredients seen at a NBA, NFL and MLB game.

For this particular venue, there was the customary high-energy concert consisting of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, a New York City-based choir (every member born in 2008) singing the “Star Spangled Banner”, a colorful pyrotechnic/fireworks display, a typical NYC city street/crosswalk that included vintage Checker Cabs adjacent to the rink and the unbelievable transformation of an entire baseball field to a regulation-size skating arena.

And would you believe it took 20,000 gallons of water to create a two-inch ice surface for this year’s 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic ice surface?

And on top of all of this was the pièce de résistance of this 2018 NHL Winter Classic – A thrilling Rangers victory on an impressive power- play goal by J.T. Miller that was scored at 2:43 in overtime.

Considering how the Blueshirts started the season at 3-7-2, it truly has been a remarkable resurgence for this team who are four points back of the Washington Capitals. This 18-6-3 run puts them in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

And how about Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist?

Lundqvist made 31 saves to continue his exemplary record in regular-season outdoor NHL games. In four appearances, his stellar record stands at 4-0-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

And for the record books, it happened on a frigid, bitterly cold afternoon in Flushing on January 1, 2018. The euphoric cheers of ‘Let’s Go Rangers…Let’s Go Buffalo’ permeated the brick façade of Citi Field and put to rest the all-too-familiar chants of ‘Let’s Go Mets’.

But for passionate, baseball aficionados who actually attended the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, an anxious fan, who just happened to be standing inside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, was quick to point out:

Spring Training is only 43 days away…

About Danny Torres

Bronx native, Danny Torres is a high school teacher, an avid baseball fan and freelance sports journalist. Besides his work with Latinosports.com, he has written for MLB.com, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y, the N.Y. Mets, the Puerto Rico Daily Sun and Manhattan Times. He was a frequent guest on 'Solamente Pelota', a now-defunct sports program on XM/Sirius satellite radio. In 2010, he contributed to an updated prologue for the re-released book, 'Clemente, the Enduring Legacy' by Kal Wagenheim. In 2011, as part of a series commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month on MLB.com, he contributed to a five-part series saluting the greatest Latino pitchers in baseball. Finally, in December, 2011, he participated in a panel discussion connected with the Smithsonian exhibition, 'Beyond Baseball, The Life of Roberto Clemente' in Baltimore, Maryland. In December, 2012, he appeared on the front page of 'El Diario/La Prensa', a NY Spanish daily newspaper and was featured in a five-part series dedicated to the legendary Puerto Rican baseball player, Roberto Clemente who tragically died 40 years ago.

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