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2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Canadiens vs. Bruins

Winter Classic rink impresses New England Patriots


The New England Patriots on Wednesday got to see what their home field looks like ready for a hockey game.

"It's really cool there's an ice rink right in the middle of our stadium," defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. "It's pretty neat."

Gillette Stadium will host the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Friday, when the Boston Bruins play the Montreal Canadiens (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

NHL partnering with RISE to combat racism

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The National Hockey League is partnering with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) to raise awareness and combat racism. The NHL and RISE are using the platform afforded to them by the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic to get their joint message out to the public.

The NHL and RISE will debut a public service announcement featuring current and former players from the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens on Thursday during Winter Classic events taking place at Gillette Stadium. It will also run Friday in the stadium during the Winter Classic game between the Canadiens and Bruins (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

In addition, a PSA will be shown on NBC Sports Network at various times on Thursday and the complete PSA will air on the NHL Network. There will also be opportunities for fans to meet current and former players and win prizes at the stadium while gates are open.

New Year's Eve events lead into Winter Classic game

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Before the NHL kicks off 2016 on Friday by adding another chapter to one of its oldest and most heated rivalries, it will cap 2015 with an event-filled New Year's Eve at Gillette Stadium.

The kickoff events to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, which will be played on New Year's Day between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN), include each team's practice, two exhibition games that could fill the stadium, and a party on the plaza outside the stadium.

The Bruins are scheduled to practice at Gillette Stadium at 11 a.m. ET. The Canadiens will begin their workout 90 minutes later.

Practice the day before the Winter Classic is essential to the players and coaches because it gives them a chance to learn the nuances of the ice and the quirks that stem from the unfamiliar sightlines they'll experience playing a game outside in a football stadium.

"You can't just get into this game without practice," said Bruins forward Max Talbot, who has played in two Winter Classic games (2011 and 2012). "It's such a different atmosphere with the wind, the weather and lighting. You have to find your bearings, so you have to take these two days, even the family skate [Wednesday], to get into the groove of everything."

Bruins' Bourque surprises kids with Classic tickets

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

NATICK, Mass. -- Matt Cacciapaglia knows now that dreams can come true.

Wednesday, the youth hockey player from Franklin, Mass., was surprised with tickets to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic for himself and every other member of the Franklin Flyer Squirt 2 team during a surprise ceremony at a local Dick’s Sporting Goods.

To make the afternoon even more memorable, the haul of tickets was delivered by Boston Bruins legend and Hockey Hall of Fame member Ray Bourque, who was on hand for a question-and-answer session with the youth team at the store.

“This was so cool,” said Matt, 10.

Eruzione praises Winter Classic as premier showcase

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

For Mike Eruzione, talking about the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins brought back memories of his youth playing outside around Boston.

All are good. Some are a little less … appetizing.

"We used to go down to the swamp and we used to skate on the swamp from 8 in the morning until it got dark," Eruzione said. "When you got thirsty you'd cut a hole in the ice and you'd drink out of the water.

"It's kind of disgusting but we're all still alive today."

Eruzione, the hero of the United States gold-medal effort at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, certainly has graduated past drinking swamp water. But his memories of growing up playing on outdoor rinks, lakes and even flooded tennis courts stays strong. And he's trying to pass it on to the next generation.

Bergeron, Bruins enjoy family skate at Gillette Stadium

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has won a Stanley Cup championship, two Olympic gold medals with Canada and three Selke Trophies.

Just when it seemed as if the Bruins alternate captain had done it all, he did something for the first time Wednesday. He got to experience the Bruins' family skate as a father.

Bergeron, his teammates and lots of friends and family took an hour to enjoy the ice at Gillette Stadium two days prior to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. In October, Bergeron became a dad for the first time when his wife, Stephanie, gave birth to a son, Zack. Along with grandma and mom, Zack joined his father on a frigid day at the home of the New England Patriots.

"The little baby made it. He was sleeping the whole time. So he really enjoyed his first skate," Bergeron said. "[It means] a lot. We had a family skate at Fenway [Park] and it was fun, but it's definitely even more special having a kid and having a chance to share that with him."

Gillette Stadium ice sees first action, set for Classic

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Dan Craig finally saw some unfamiliar faces enjoying themselves on the rink he and his crew have built at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. It was a moment he won't soon forget.

The Boston Bruins were here for a family skate in the afternoon and Craig, the NHL's senior director of facility operations and hockey operations, marveled at the scene.

"Did you see the kids?" Craig said. "Come on. Come on. That was awesome. That's what it's all about right there. Forget the big boys, look at the kids. It's priceless to get the families out there to really, really enjoy it."

Craig will get to see a lot more on Thursday, when the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens practice in advance of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). In addition, the NHL is hosting the Outdoor Women's Classic presented by Scotiabank and the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game presented by Molson Canadian at Gillette Stadium.

Bruins' Talbot cherishes new Winter Classic memories

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- From throwing snowballs at mascots near the bench in Buffalo to playing in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Boston Bruins forward Max Talbot has his fill of memories from past NHL Winter Classic games.

His latest, and now favorite memory came Wednesday during the Bruins family skate at Gillette Stadium, the home of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between Boston and the Montreal Canadiens on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).

Talbot and his wife, Cynthia, had their son Jaxson, 22 months old, on skates and on the ice for the first time in his life.

"I had the GoPro going," Talbot said. "These are memories you'll cherish forever."

Bruins' Hayes plays Santa with Winter Classic tickets

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Boston Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes did some one-stop shopping to fulfill part of his Christmas gift requests from family and friends.

The right wing and Boston native bought a row of tickets at Gillette Stadium for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

"I think it's like 22 seats or something like that," Hayes said. "I had to buy them all. A lot of Christmas gifts, I guess. You want to make sure everyone has a good time. It could be their only outdoor game."

Canadiens' Condon honors Patriots with Classic mask

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

When it came time to create a mask for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 1, Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon had one obvious request as a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots: a tribute to the NFL team he grew up rooting for.

Condon left the front of his Winter Classic mask to Swedish painter David Gunnarsson but made sure the artist included four key elements on the back plate.

"Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, four Super Bowls, and the team motto: Do Your Job," Condon said.

Gunnarsson, of DaveArt Studios, captured all four in black and white on the back of the Winter Classic mask, which Condon wore for the first time in practice earlier this week and will use against the Boston Bruins on New Year's Day (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

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