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NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field draws more than 41,000 fans

The 10th annual outdoor hockey event was the first for New York City.

The Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers face

The Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers face off for the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field on Jan. 1, 2018. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

Wind chills of zero degrees weren’t enough to stop hockey lovers from experiencing the 10th annual Winter Classic Monday at Citi Field.

With weather forecasts promising ice-cold conditions for the NHL’s signature event, many fans would have been tempted to stay home. But hockey fans are a hardy bunch and, despite temperatures at the 21 degree mark at puck drop, they showed up in force.

“It’s cold, but I don’t care,” said Daniel Cochrane, 14, of Hicksville, who attended the game with his father. “It’s probably the most excited I’ve been to see a hockey game.”

Also among the 41,821 fans in attendance was Tal Zuckerman, a Rangers fan from Dumont, New Jersey, who wanted to attend the first Winter Classic to be played in New York City. Yankee Stadium was the site of two outdoor Stadium Series games involving the Rangers in 2014, but the atmosphere surrounding the New Year’s Day game against the Buffalo Sabres in Queens this year was different. A decidedly city-centric display adorned what would normally be center field at the Mets’ ballpark, complete with fake subway stations and taxi cabs, and there were pre- and in-game performances by Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, Ace Frehley and the Goo Goo Dolls.

“Classic pretty much describes what it is,” said Zuckerman, who also attended the Rangers-Islanders matchup in the Bronx four years ago. “A lot of people think we’re crazy for being out here in this weather but it’s a great experience. I’m sure when I’m by the pool this summer, I’ll forget about how cold I was and just remember what a great time I had.”

Despite being from upstate Syracuse, where extreme cold is the norm this time of year, Becky Heindorf, also a Rangers fan, was not as blasé about the conditions in Queens.

“I’m a little bit worried about the weather, but I’m layered up,” she said. “I see this as a chance of a lifetime, just to see an outdoor game. I wouldn’t miss it for anything — even the cold.”


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