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Friday, December 31, 2010

NHL Winter Classic Coverage | "Seven Days to Saturday" | Day 6, Dec. 31 (Live Blog)

Dec 31, 2010
Coverage By - Frank Murgia
Source Credits -NHL, Photos: Frank Murgia

NHL Announces Winter Classic Game Change Time to 8pm Est. Saturday Night Jan. 1st, 2011

Alumni Game | old time Pens featuring #66 Mario Lemieux vs. old time caps, Pens & Caps Practice.

PITTSBURGH - Today is day SIX of our "Seven Days to Saturday" 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Coverage which is being held here in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on Saturday,  January 1, 2011 @ 1pm est.

2011 NHL Winter Classic News Coverage

As the year ends the days and hours melt away to Winter Classic. One day to go and a new day to come. Today brings a new addition the to Winter Classic week, the Alumni game. The brainchild of Pittsburgh Penguins president David Morehouse to add another fan festivity to the week the Alumni game is limited seating to only 10,000 tickets. Mario Lemieux is the main alumni attraction. Tons of former Penguins on the roster. The Capitals roster is pretty light with star names.

Final rosters set for Pens-Caps alumni game

Live Blogging Notes from the Press Box:
  • Lots of Jerseys - not Steelers jersey's but Penguins sweaters. #87 mostly
  • Scalpers asking $100-125 for a $20 face value ticket
  • Fans trickle in at 9am
  • The Alumni Pens and caps enter at 9:20am.
  • The pens enter to their famous orchestral theme song.
  • * The big guy #66 enters 2 minutes later to a roar of the crowd. (only about 50% of the 10,000 fans in their seats, shame they missed Mario enter.)
  • ** A great touch as the recently passed away longtime Penguins arena announcer John Barbaro was the recorded introduction for Mario's entrance.
  • Face-off at 9:31am
  • Players are either wearing no helmets or knit pens or caps tuque's.
  • Only one side of the stadium is being used. Still a light crowd. hmmm?
  • Robbie Brown scores for the Pens at 4:22, assisted by who else #66 (what the heck he didn't do his famous past score windmill)
  • ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose enters the press box. (the Mullet looks good)
  • Quiet in the press box. Zzzzzzz. Kind of Wish I was down in the cold with the fans.
  • Caps Score, Alan May (Who?) at 6:56 (1-1)
  • Caps Score, Paul Mulvey (I remember him) (2-1)
  • Pens Score, Rod Buskas (2-2)
  • Pens Score, Craig Simpson (2-3)
  • Caps Score, Lofthouse (3-2)
  • Pens Score, Simpson again (3-3)
  • Paul Coffey stills has fast wheels.
  • END of first period. (3-3)
  • The super genius sports talker Mark Madden enjoying a media coffee.
  • Robbie Brown finally takes the ice and does his famous post score windmill to the roar of the crowd. (What took him so long)
  • Bill Guerin interviewed says it is nice to be the young guy again. ha-ha
  • I took a walk outside into the elements during the intermission break. Perfect outdoor hockey weather, i am sure they wish this was the actual classic game being played in this weather. I still have a good feeling that the weather will work out and the puck dropped at 1:28 Saturday. They were calling for a 45 degree day for the alumni game and it is kind of cold and brisk and cloudy. Fingers Crossed.
  • The crowd has filled in the empty Heinz Field yellow seats nicely. Pretty full now. 
  • Once again so, so may hockey sweaters being worn and pens gear. Such a great supporting sports town this is. Much Pride.
  • 2nd period facoff @ 10:18am est.
  • Frank Pietrangelo in Goal for the Pens replacing Gilles Meloche.
  • The old guys still moving pretty good. Nice passing and flow to the game.
  • Caps Score, Paul Mulvey with his 2nd (4-3)
  • 10:25am the sun is waking up and peaking through its crusty cloudy eyes.
  • #66 has yet to score. I still feel he will get a hat trick as they will start feeding him the puck.
  • Here comes more sun, looks beautiful
  • Pens Score, Pens post game analyst and former tough guy Jay Caulfield scores. Trottier and troy Loney assist. (4-4)
  • Nice to hear the sound of a real organ playing the stadium cheer music.
  • There is former Flyer and Pen Rick Tocchet. Wonder if he has money on the game? Many folks said I looked like him back in the day.
  • Crowd starts a loud LET'S GO PEN'S! chant with 6:32 left in the 2nd.
  • What?! A penalty called on the Caps. There are no penalties in alumni games. ha-ha.
  • Scary Gary Roberts tells the crowd what he would do.
  • Pens Score, Ron Francis on the PP (5-4) #66 with an assist, still no goals. He will for sure score.
  • I see some terrible towels out there. 
  • Caps Score. Peter Bondra (5-5)
  • 1 Minute remaining in THE GAME. OOOP'S. I forgot this is not a full game. Mario will not get a hat trick any maybe not even a goal. Will there be a shootout? Pens Practice starts in 40 minutes.
  • NOPE! Handshake Line. Game Over. Well this is a new game to the classic schedule and the most important things are practice time for the real teams and the game itself Saturday which counts in the standings. 
  • WOW! Mario did not score. Crowd a bit bummed and I think surprised the game was only 2 periods.
  • The teams salute the crowd.

  • Mario addressed the media in the briefing room. 
  • Mario looked good. He said he felt good and great to see may of the old guys from the cup days and skate with them. He praised Sid's leadership and the skill of Alexander Ovechkin. He was happy to assist on Robbie Browns 50th years later.

  • I hit the stadium concourse area to mingle with the fans and to get some deep fried food. (Chicken Tenders and Fries)
  • You can tell today is Mario's day. 70% of the Penguins game jerseys worn by fans sported 66.
  • About 3/4 of the fans stayed for the Pens practice session on the outdoor ice.
  • The crowd roared and chanted "Let's Go Pens!"
  • 20 minutes into the hour practice the crowd is about 30% now.
  • Barry Melrose and Steve Levy are recording their ESPN banter down on field level.
  • Spoke with Announcer great Mike 'Doc' Emrick in the press elevator. 
  • Box Lunch served in the Press Box. Ham, Roast Beef or Turkey, hmmm should I eat again? I just had fan food.)
  • Pens practice is not overly exciting but I a sure the guys are having a blast. A few guys are jostling and playing around and their is a real jump in their step as the big day is almost finally here. Again, perfect weather today.
  • I went for the Roast Beef boxed lunch.
  • Pens Practice ends at 12:45pm.
  • The family skates is now in session. Very nice to let the family members of the players and staff hit the ice. Just as nice as it was to let us media skate yesterday. 
  • Following practice the players were able to have their family members join them on the ice for the family skate.

  • Crosby's locker was surrounded by reporters AND Sid wasn't even their. ha-ha He showed up 15 minutes later and that early swarm doubled.
  • Ben Lovejoy's face is looking a bit better, not as swollen and giant as seen in HBO'S 24/7.
  • Fluery, Talbot and Malkin along with Sid dominated the locker room attention.
  • Coach Dan Bylsma briefed the media in the press room and talked about the matchup, the Caps impression shown on 24/7 of how to annoy Malkin, his battles with caps coach Bruce Boudreau since the minor league days and did not commit on weather Jordan Staal will make his season debut outdoors.
  • The Caps practice was light and fun. They were loose and enjoyed the moment. 
  • Following practice the players were able to have their family members join them on the ice for the family skate.

Well that is it folks. Time to call it a day and prepare for the turning of the clock and to maybe prepare for a very long warm and rainy Winter Classic day. Thanks for joining us all week, one more day to go in our 'Seven Days to Saturday" 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Coverage. Check out our photo albums and raw video footage from the week. See you next year. --frank murgia

NHL Winter Classic Photos Pittsburgh

NHL Winter Classic Photos Pittsburgh

NHL Winter Classic Photos Pittsburgh

NHL Winter Classic Pittsburgh 2011 Pittsburgh Penguins Photos

NHL Winter Classic Pittsburgh 2011 Pittsburgh Penguins Photos

NHL Winter Classic Pittsburgh 2011 Pittsburgh Penguins Photos

NHL Winter Classic Pittsburgh 2011 Pittsburgh Penguins Photos

NHL Winter Classic Pittsburgh 2011 Pittsburgh Penguins Photos

* VIEW our DAY-6 Full Winter Classic  PHOTO Album

* VIEW our DAY-5 Full Winter Classic  PHOTO Album
* VIEW our DAY-3 Full Winter Classic  PHOTO Album
* VIEW our DAY-2 Full Winter Classic  PHOTO Album
* VIEW our DAY-1 Full Winter Classic  PHOTO Album

* VIEW our Winter Classic NEWS Page

MORE Related News Coverage:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.com
* Lemieux enjoys alumni game reunion, has two points

LIVE From Heinz Field
* Video of Pens & Caps practice. Interviews with Dany Bylsma, Max Talbot, Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal, Paul Martin

* Story: Lemieux gets two points in Alumni game tie

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