ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Making his third appearance in the Winter Classic and his first with the Toronto Maple Leafs, forward James van Riemsdyk already had plenty of outdoor experience before Toronto beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Wednesday.
It may have been van Riemsdyk's first time playing at the Big House, but it's a building he was already very familiar with before becoming an NHL player.
As a member of the United States National Team Development Program under-18 team, van Riemsdyk lived in Ann Arbor for two years. While developing the skills that would one day take him to the NHL, he attended Pioneer High School, which is located down the street from Michigan Stadium. So it was slightly surreal to prepare to play in a game at the stadium as hundreds of revelers tailgated in the Pioneer High School parking lot.