With outdoor hockey all the rage, the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch are getting into the act.
The Crunch are set to make AHL history when they host the Binghamton Senators on Saturday in the Mirabito Outdoor Classic, to be held at the New York State Fairgrounds Grandstand.
Game time is 12:30 p.m. and it will be televised live in high definition by the NHL Network in both the United States and Canada, as well as on Time Warner Cable Sports in central New York.
The NHL Winter Classic has become a sensation over the past three years, with games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston all drawing huge crowds.
This will be the first outdoor game in AHL history and the league's single-game attendance record of 20,672 is expected to be challenged.
Prior to the game, hit recording artist Jesse James will perform the national anthem and skydiver Ray Maynard will parachute to center ice and deliver to U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Governor David A. Patterson a puck from the NHL's first outdoor game in 1991, a preseason matchup between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings held in Las Vegas.
There will also be a flyover by the 174th Fighter Wing, a Syracuse-based New York Air National Guard unit which previously participated in a flyover at Yankee Stadium during the 2009 World Series.
Several former stars with ties to hockey in New York are slated to participate in the pre-game activities, including ex-Buffalo Sabres forward Danny Gare, who will also serve as color commentator for the television broadcast. Also scheduled to be on hand are former Sabre Rob Ray, N.Y. Islanders legend Bobby Nystrom and former Crunch fan favorites Dan Smith and Jean-Francois Labbe.
On Saturday morning, the members of the Syracuse fire and police departments will battle Binghamton fire and police personnel in a pick-up game at the Fairgrounds, and the entire afternoon will feature on-site VIP tents, fan zones, local cheerleading teams, bands, ice sculpting and hot tubs to help provide a party-like atmosphere for fans attending this historic event.