Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Debut host Minnesota Wild eager for fittingly frigid outdoor Winter Classic | Ap

MINNEAPOLIS – Alex Goligoski grew up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the kind of high-north community where a pair of hockey skates are as common as a snow blower and parka.

Winter activities for Goligoski and his friends were an easy choice. They took their sticks and pucks to the rink in the elementary school playground two blocks down the street from his home.

Goligoski’s career on the ice is about to close.

In the veteran defender’s first season with his home team, the Minnesota Wild will play for the first time in the NHL Marquee Outdoor Event on Saturday night when they face the St. Louis Blues at the Winter Classic at Target Field.

The game, which the savages have long used to host the league, was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“If any state welcomed an outdoor game, it would definitely be Minnesota. These are my fondest hockey memories growing up and playing on the outside lane, ”said Goligoski, one of nine players in the Wild squad who took part in an NHL game in the fresh air. He played for Pittsburgh in the 2011 Winter Classics with Heinz Field.

According to NHL records, 637 players born in Minnesota have been drafted in the league’s history. That’s most of any US state. Goligoski and his teammates Nick Bjugstad and Rem Pitlick are the Natives of Minnesota in the wild among the 49 players who have appeared in a game this season, including most of any state.

“It’s a feeling of pride. It is obviously such a great organization how the communities support the game and how important hockey is to this state, ”said Goligoski.

The Wild have played outdoors before, in a 2016 Stadium Series game at the University of Minnesota Football Stadium. The wild goalkeeper Cam Talbot posted a shutout at the Heritage Classics with the Edmonton Oilers in 2016.

“The elements are different, but the game is the same,” said Talbot.

The Blues hosted the 2017 Winter Classic at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals from Major League Baseball. This is the 13th edition of the Winter Classic and the 33rd outdoor game the NHL is hosting.

“It’s so much fun,” said Buffalo, New York striker Marcus Foligno. “After school you say to your pals, ‘Hey, let’s meet here at 5pm’ and before you know it, there are 20 people out there playing.”

The Wild won’t quite have her full crew. Captain and defender Jared Spurgeon and steadfast striker Joel Eriksson Ek will not play due to injury. Outstanding defender Jonas Brodin is featured on COVID-19 logs despite the savages hoping he can be evacuated in time for the game.

About this game: Fittingly, it gets terribly cold. The temperature in the Twin Cities is slated to stay below zero all day on Saturday, so the evening start time won’t make it much worse. It is expected that it will be around minus 5 degrees when playing.

“I don’t know what to expect. I can see how cold it will be but I don’t know how cold it will feel, ”said Blues goalkeeper Jordan Binnington earlier this week. “We will do our part to prepare and do our best to be prepared.”

The NHL designed the Minnesota Twins’ snow-covered home to look like a frozen lake, with a log cabin heat house in the midfield and eight mini-ice rinks to simulate a pond-style game next to the main coated ice board with 350 liters of paint. The music stage was built like a dock. Pine trees and deer statues completed the scene as light snow fell on Friday afternoon as each team drove through a light workout.

“Actually it wasn’t bad. The fingertips were really the only thing I experienced when I had a cold. I don’t think it was the boys, “said Wild coach Dean Evason. “In the beginning it was a bit funky, a lot of snow fell in our eyes and the shields fogged up. When it stopped snowing there, it got a lot better. “

Wild star Kirill Kaprizov is not impressed. He’s actually from Siberia.

“I loved to play as a kid, and even recently after a long hiatus we had the chance to play a bit of outdoor hockey,” said Kaprizov. “I love it. It’s always great fun.”

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