Thursday, March 06, 2014

How outdoor hockey at Soldier Field rattled my son's brain

Photo: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune
My 8-year-old son is slowly becoming a sports fan. 

We live in a rural part of the country where there are no absolute local sports teams to root for, so he’s picked the Penguins – he loves penguins – and Bears as his respective NHL and NFL teams.

So, it sort of blew his mind Saturday night when I flicked the TV over to the Penguins v. Blackhawks Stadium Series game being played at Soldier Field.

“Wait, the Penguins are playing hockey in the Bears’ football stadium?” my son asked, trying to grasp that whole "what-tha…" concept.

“Yep,” I replied.

“Ok,” he said. “Change it back to Sponge Bob.”

Anyway, the Soldier Field game turned out to be another one of those NHL outdoor weather classics, at least in terms of the stunning visuals as we watched snow flow down to the ice. Not many sporting events can look better.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, whose team won 5-1, said it was “probably the greatest setting you could want. With how hard it was snowing it was like, 'Wow, these are amazing conditions.’ I think everybody went back to when they were kids."

We always hear the line – the one about going back to your childhood – from coaches and players when they speak about playing in the outdoor games.

As for the playing conditions, Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said the ice was “very good, but that first period it was tough to see and handle the puck. It really felt like a real outdoor game. There were no real systems or structure. We were just kind of hoisting the puck, slapping it around and having fun."

The Chicago Tribune’s website has an excellent gallery from the game.

-- snow --