Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Cole played in his first NHL outdoor game, the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, against the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field on Saturday. The Penguins defeated the Flyers 4-2. Cole, 28, played 24:37, the most among Penguins defensemen, and had three shots, four hits and three blocked shots. In his final entry of his Stadium Series diary, Cole talks about the atmosphere Saturday, the cold weather (the temperature was 36 degrees at puck drop and there was a strong wind throughout the game) and what he will remember from a magical night.
PITTSBURGH -- Man that was fun! It was a crazy experience, something I had never done before. It was really cool, a lot of fun.
The pregame skate at the practice facility this morning was weird. It didn't feel like we had a game that night and that it was just another practice day. But going home and then thinking, 'Hey, I'm driving to the rink for another game.' But I was hopping on a bus and coming here.
It was an amazing scene. Everyone was tailgating, and then they saw our bus with a police escort and everyone was coming over and cheering. The entrance was certainly pretty impressive with all the fans outside. Then, coming out for the intros for the game, the fireworks and everything else, it was pretty crazy. The pageantry was pretty awesome.
Finishing up with a win against a cross-state rival was huge. It was a bit like a Stanley Cup Playoff game. The playoffs were intense last season and they came out hard, like a playoff game. They came out really hard and tried to set the tone and they had a couple of really good chances early. We were able to weather the storm and capitalize on our chances, which is something that we are really good at as a team.
It was a good game, a hard-fought game. They hung in there and they kept battling back. We would take two-goal leads and we could probably do a better job shutting that door, if you will. But we never stopped skating and ended up winning.
It's crazy to compare the weather today to yesterday during the practice skate here. Yesterday was as hot as I have ever been skating, even half-speed skating like we did. I couldn't catch my breath because it was so hot. Then we come out today and it is snowing and it is so cold.
Actually, wearing all these tights and long underwear-type stuff, I felt perfect. I couldn't have felt better. It was the perfect mix of staying warm for moving but then the temperature cooling you down so you weren't sweating too much. I felt great, the ice was great. I would not be opposed to having this every single game.
One of the moments that I'm sure people might remember was late in the game when I knocked Brayden Schenn into the back of our goal and the net fell on top of our goalie, Matt Murray.
[Coach] Mike Sullivan always tells us to hang that guy that is trying to get to you onto the post, and I certainly hung him on the post. I told Murray I was sorry about that and he said, 'What are you sorry for? He was the one that knocked it off.' He said, 'I'll eat that crossbar anytime if you wheel with the puck and start skating up the ice.'
I was skating up the ice and I looked up and saw there was like 10 seconds left and I was like, 'I'm just going to dump it in and make sure we don't mess up.' It was pretty funny and Murray was laughing about it.
When I look back on this I think my memory will be of looking around Heinz Field and seeing all of the fans and feeling all of the energy that was in the building. It was fantastic. And, obviously, winning is a great feeling, especially when you have a great experience like this and then you are able to cap it off with a win. That makes it even better.