Everything came off without a hitch. Although the weather caused the cancellation of the first ever Jr Winter Classic game scheduled at the Community Outdoor Rink at Stage AE, at Heinz Field and site of the NHL Winter Classic game between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Jr teams were quick to adapt.
Within an hour of being informed by the NHL Penguins (about 1pm) that their Jr Outdoor Winter Classic game slot was canceled due to the inclement weather, the teams managed to make several adjustments so that the game could be played at another venue. Although the building was closed for the New Year’s Holiday, the Properties Manager for the Blade Runners Ice Complex and home of the Jr Penguins agreed to open the building for the two teams. Rink staff was contacted along with game officials, video staff, team representatives, players and staff and their families. All details were covered while the Potomac team was still in route to Pittsburgh on their chartered bus.
Food was ordered for the families in attendance from both clubs as well as the players, staff and game officials for during and after the game. While the Jr game was being played, the NHL Winter Classic was on the big screen up in the Loft at the rink for the families to view.
Even with all the scurrying by team management, the Jr teams (Potomac Patriots & Jr Penguins) warmed up at 7:45 pm and dropped the puck right on schedule at 8pm. The game was video broadcast so that every player and staff member would receive a DVD memento to keep for themselves.
Oh, and the GAME was as exciting as the one played b the big teams at Heinz Field that evening. Both teams shared in impressive stretches of play in the opposition’s end of the ice throughout the first period with the goaltenders Dustyn Moyer and Brennan Allen stealing the show and the first period ended without any scoring.
The second period saw a shift in momentum when the Patriots built up a heavy lead in shots on goal and just 3 and a half minutes in, Andrew Turgeon scored to put the Patriots up 1 zip. More of the same continued as Potomac dominated play in the second frame with additional goals by Turgeon (his 2nd) and Peter Wydler.
Down 3-0 going into the third, the Jr Pens had their work cut out for them. Jr Pens Coach Cersosimo made some between period adjustments and the Jr Penguins created their own shift in momentum. Although they out-shot the Patriots 14 to 3 in the final frame, they were only able to slip one shot past net minder Eugene Rose who split time for the game. Chad Parice scored for the Pens lone goal with 6 plus minutes remaining but that was not enough to overcome the lead the Patriots built up. Then, late in the contest with a minute to go, Gordy Bonnel buried a shorty to close the deal. Potomac went on to win with a 4-1 final score.
The game was entertaining and exciting and the families got to enjoy some of the NHL contest on the big screen as well as the players who made their way up to the loft after their game to catch the last half of period three of the NHL Caps/Penguins game. It was a genuine Good Will Event that the Jr Penguins were proud to sponsor and appreciative of the Potomac Patriots to come up and represent their Washington Capital NHL club.
Pictured are players and staff of both teams in their official 2011 Winter Classic Washington Capital and Pittsburgh Penguin Game Jerseys.
Both teams meet again in CHA League games next weekend (Jan 8 & 9) at the Lumberyard in Haymarket, VA.