Boston Falls in Winter Classic
by Haley Hunt on Friday, January 22nd, 2016
Now in its eighth year, the NHL Winter Classic is an annual regular season hockey game held on New Year’s Eve at an outdoor venue. This year’s festivities were hosted at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, where more than 67,000 fans gathered to watch the first ever Outdoor Women’s Classic game, followed by an alumni game, and finally, the men’s matchup of the Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens, who met for the 910th time in league history.
Unfortunately, a day that was supposed to mark a milestone in women’s professional hockey quickly turned into a tragedy. Just two minutes before the end of the first period of the women’s game, Denna Laing of the Boston Pride sustained a severe spinal cord injury after falling near the boards. During a practice session at the makeshift rink, some of the NHL players were complaining about the surface, calling it slushy and dangerous. The ice’s softening in the forty-degree weather resulted in deep cuts in the surface, likely a factor that contributed to Laing’s fall. While Laing’s family has asked for privacy surrounding the matter, they released a statement on January 8th, stating that Laing currently has limited movement and feeling in her legs. Now, several weeks after the incident, the hockey community has come together in support of Laing: she received an outpouring of support from women’s hockey teams across the country (including Milton Academy)—many messages included the hashtag #14Strong, a tribute to the uniform number she wore during her career at Princeton. Additionally, the Bruins have donated $200,000 towards her recovery.
After the debut of the Women’s game, the stakes were high for the faceoff between “the league’s most bitter rivalry,” which has been dominated by the Canadiens in seven out of the last eight encounters with the Bruins. A win for the Bruins would propel them past the Canadiens in the standings for the first time all season. Meanwhile, the Canadiens looked to improve their poor record after a month-long slump, in which they lost 11 out of 13 games. Alas, despite being the first team to host the Winter Classic twice, the odds were not in the favor of the Boston Bruins. Though playing without injured offensive star David Krejci, and without Brad Marchand, who was having a terrific season up until he clipped Ottawa Senators defensemen Mark Borowiecki, costing him a three-game suspension, the team was still confident that their home advantage could help them clinch their second consecutive victory over the struggling Canadiens. Unfortunately, in a bit of a beat down, the Canadiens outshot the Bruins 14-3 in the first period. Though Tuukka Rask played good defense, stopping 25 shots for the Bruins, the Canadiens continued to dominate the Bruins to seal a 5-1 victory: the largest margin of victory in the seven year history of the event.
While the outcome of the game was not as Bruins fans had hoped for, they still celebrated the exciting atmosphere, the addition of the women’s exhibition, and, of course, a record-breaking 186 gallons of clam chowder sold!
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