St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko is keeping a diary of his experiences at the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Blues face the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN, NHL.TV) in the 21st outdoor regular-season game and the third of four this season.
In his second installment Sunday, Parayko talks about finally getting a chance to skate on the ice at Busch Stadium in preparation for the game.
ST. LOUIS -- Our day started with us all jumping on the bus to come down here to Busch Stadium. We got here just before noon and spent a good hour and a half just checking everything out. We went down to the batting cages and hit some balls. We were pitching to each other. Joel Edmundson was pitching to me, and I got a few good hits in, decent contact.
Then we checked out all the new equipment, throwing on all the new gear. We got a big bag of Winter Classic clothing and stuff like that, and we were checking all that out. The stuff is unreal; I really like the colors.
We took the team picture, had practice, and then had the family skate. It was all a lot of fun. Now, we'll have a family dinner with the team tonight, and then go to the hotel and relax and get ready for tomorrow.
New Year's Eve was pretty relaxing for me. We just cooked dinner as a family at home, and then took it easy.
Today was so much fun. Being on the ice was unreal. We were all waiting at the gate to be able to go on the ice because we were so excited. It was like when we were in peewee hockey again and you would have to wait for the coach's OK to get on the ice. It was hilarious when we were all lined up at the door waiting for the NHL guys to give us the OK to go on.
The ice was really good. I was surprised at how it was. The rink itself seems small, but that is just because the stadium is so big. That was the biggest difference.
It's a little different at times. At the beginning, it almost felt like your eyes were watering. I don't know if it was the wind or the glare or what it was. I wore those black eye stickers. I think it helped a little bit, but it is kind of weird because they are just sitting there and you can kind of see them in your peripheral vision.
It's so wild to be in the St. Louis Cardinals dressing room. They have a completely different setup from locker room to weight room to everything else. We are both playing major sports, but they have different things than we have. They have Golden Tee in here and a few other games, I think, and some board games. I came down here before a game to meet a few of the Cardinals players, and it's weird how different the atmosphere is before the game; it's almost like they are relaxed, all sitting around, hanging out, playing games and watching TV. It's such a different animal as a game.
What amazes me the most is just how this has all come together; actually getting out there to see it all put together in one piece is pretty exciting. I think the coolest thing for me is that it is not your average game, it's a change. Change is always good. It's something that everyone is excited about. If you look around the room, everyone has that mojo, excited, having fun with their families around.
We all can't wait until the game tomorrow.