Ten years ago today, the Philadelphia Flyers went outdoors for the first time in team history as they took on the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park in the NHL’s third annual Winter Classic.
For the last dozen years, New Year’s Day has meant outdoor hockey, in the form of the NHL’s Winter Classic. The league has done well for itself in making January 1st (or sometimes the 2nd) a showcase game. The Philadelphia Flyers got their first taste of the action ten years ago today, and I was happy to be among the 38,112 in attendance as they took on the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park.
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Rolling into town the evening before to ring in the new year, my friend Matt and I awoke fairly early to take multiple subways from the suburb of Dorchester to Lansdowne station near Fenway.
Once we arrived, it was a truly unique experience, one that was still pretty novel at that time a decade ago. A football-type atmosphere, but for a hockey game.
Flyers fans represented themselves well, packing whole sections of the park. For the game, the team donned a “new” road white look that was really a close facsimile to their unis from the 1970’s. It has since gone on to become their road jersey full time.
The buildup/pregame was fantastic, and it even included the Dropkick Murphys performing their song I’m Shipping Up to Boston before everyone got sick of it in subsequent years.
The hockey itself wasn’t great, as the ice was chippy. And our view wasn’t the best, if I’m being honest. But it was more about the spectacle than anything as the teams played in the shadow of the Green Monster.
Despite it being January in Boston, it was comfortable in the stands, and I didn’t even have to consider putting gloves on for the entire game. In the first period, we were treated to the first fight in Winter Classic history, which predictably involved the Flyers’ Daniel Carcillo.
The Flyers would go on to open the scoring in the second period, with defenseman Danny Syvret of all people netting his first NHL goal. A big moment for a guy who would only go on to score two more in a 59-game NHL career.
For the longest time, it appeared that the Flyers would hold that 1-0 lead, with chances being scarce on the bad ice. The most entertaining part of the day actually came when Philadelphia and Boston fans alike engaged in a spirited anti-Yankees chant. You can probably guess what it was. A true moment of togetherness.
But things weren’t meant to be for the Flyers, as Mark Recchi would tie the game for Boston with 2:18 to play in regulation after we had had Sweet Caroline crammed down our throats during a commercial break.
In overtime, the Flyers had a chance, but it would be the Bruins scoring at the 1:57 mark to win the game 2-1, the first Winter Classic in which the home club had been victorious. For Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton, it would unfortunately not be the biggest overtime goal he would surrender in 2010.
A few months later, however, the Flyers got their revenge on the Bruins in the playoffs as they overcame a 3-0 series deficit to stage an historic postseason comeback en route to making the Stanley Cup Final. So, take that, Boston.
Also, never mind the fact that the Bruins won the Stanley Cup the following year.
As for the teams’ meeting ten years ago today, I was glad to be part of the event, despite the Flyers coming out on the short end of things.
Sometimes, sports really can be about the experience, wins and losses aside. On January 1, 2010, it was.