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NHL Winter Classic

Goo Goo Dolls hope Sabres sharp in Winter Classic

Buffalo-based band to perform at Citi Field, root for hometown team against Rangers

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

One thing Grammy-nominated rock band The Goo Goo Dolls are used to is playing in front of packed arenas across the globe. Another is the cold.

They'll be the featured act during the first intermission of the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field on Monday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV), and the expected forecast of 20 degrees Fahrenheit will feel like a heat wave to the Buffalo natives.

"I was just up in Buffalo for the last 30 days and it was 7 degrees, 10 degrees, so I'm acclimated. I'm ready," vocalist and guitarist Johnny Rzeznik told "It'll be fine, it's a short set."

Formed by Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac in 1986, the Goo Goo Dolls have sold more than 10 million records and produced 10 studio albums.


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They've had 19 top-10 singles, including "Slide," "Black Balloon," "Dizzy," "Name," "Broadway" and "Iris," which spent nearly 12 months on the Billboard charts and held the No. 1 position for 17 consecutive weeks.

They have performed at Madison Square Garden, home of the Rangers, and were the first concert at what is now KeyBank Center, home of the Sabres, when the arena opened in 1996.

"It's such a cool event," Rzeznik said of the Winter Classic. "A hockey game outside with a massive audience. Being in front of that many people on television, it's exciting and has become a real tradition now, and it's going to be a lot of fun, especially since the Sabres are there. 

Growing up in Buffalo, Rzeznik said he and his family were big Sabres fans.

"I remember being a small kid and everyone watched hockey in my house," he said. "My sisters loved [former Buffalo defenseman] Jim Schoenfeld. He put out an album called 'Schony' and it was unbelievably bad, but we had to listen to that record. And then when the 'French Connection' was playing (Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert), that was the classic era of the Sabres. We grew up with that and it became iconic in our minds."

The band also created a video for the Sabres to use during the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs, set to their hit "Better Days." Buffalo won the Presidents' Trophy that season and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, where they lost to the Ottawa Senators in five games.

Video: 2018 Winter Classic at Citi Field time-lapse

"Buffalo has been through a lot of ups and downs and is on a big upswing right now, but when Buffalo was down and out, the Sabres were the saving grace of the area," Rzeznik said. "They were always exciting and it was always something that the people of Buffalo could relate to. It was something that really felt like it belonged to the city, even more than the Buffalo Bills, I think. 

"Even more than football, I think hockey is really the heart of the city as far as sports and that goes."

The Goo Goo Dolls put out the album "Boxes" last year and recorded an EP, "You Should Be Happy," which came out in May. They spent the summer on tour.

"We had a few new songs and a bunch of new material we wanted to get out," Rzeznik said. "We had just put the album out, and then we went on tour, but we had this extra material and right now, in this world, you have to keep putting stuff out, so we wrote some songs and put together that EP really quick. It turned out really good. 

"I wanted it to be more rock and roll. I wanted to hear some loud guitars again. It's been fun experimenting and pushing the boundaries of the sound of the band."

For those wondering what the set list will be on Monday, you'll have to tune in to find out.

"We're sort of halfway there," Rzeznik said. "We're excited about it. You want to do the new songs, but we're going to do a couple of classics and a couple of new songs. That's kind of the right way to do it, I think."

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