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NHL Heritage Classic

Heritage Classic Diary: Bryan Little

Jets center tries to get used to outdoor surroundings, enjoys family skate with parents

by Bryan Little / Special to NHL.com

Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little will be keeping his own diary throughout the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic. The outdoor game against the Calgary Flames will be played at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, CITY, TVAS2, NHL.TV). He will check in regularly this week with behind-the-scenes access.

In his second entry, Little writes about practice day at Mosaic Stadium and the things he discovered ahead of playing his first NHL outdoor game.

 

REGINA, Saskatchewan -- We got to Regina this morning and it was definitely nice to get a practice in here, to get a feel for the ice and what the wind's going to be like. A very cool place.

It has a different kind of feel to it than we're used to. It kind of feels like you're higher up and the seats seem really far away. It was important to get used to the surroundings.

We were actually practicing flipping the puck high in the air because it looks a lot different out here than in an arena. You can lose the puck a lot easier out here and I imagine it could be even worse [Saturday] because the game is at night, if it's up there in the black sky. That's something we might look to do in the game, especially if the ice isn't great. It'll be important not to overhandle it.

 

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That was another good thing about practice, to see that there were some bumps on the ice and the passes weren't as flat and crisp as we would like. It's nice to know that going into the game. It might change your mind about making some extra passes instead of shooting.

When we got to the stadium after lunch, some of the guys went out to the field to kick a soccer ball around and throw a football around. It was a bit too chilly for me to do that but I went out there to check on the ice.

For that, I didn't dress warm enough and came back into the dressing room. Those guys were playing soccer and messing around out there ... I just wanted to take a peek before we went out for practice.

I've seen the weather forecast, colder and more wind, and to be honest, I'm kind of glad it's going to be cooler. I put on some extra layers for practice today that I normally don't wear, and I was really sweating out there, so it felt hotter than an arena. But it's supposed to be colder for the game so I think I'll start with just what I normally wear for games and then if I have to add layers, I will.

I've never done it this way before. Every arena kind of feels the same to us and out here, we'll see how it goes. Maybe in warmup I'll wear the tuque, everyone seems to do that for outdoor games, and I think I can jump on board for that.

We've heard there may be more wind. I'm not looking forward to that. You could actually feel some of it on the ice today. For a while during practice, you don't notice it but when you turn into the wind, it's there, and my eyes were tearing up a bit because of it. There are a lot of things here that you don't normally think about in a game.

When we were done with practice, I was able to skate around the ice with my parents during the family skate. Unfortunately, my brother doesn't get in until later today from Edmonton. I think this was the first time my mom has skated since I was a kid. She dug out her old figure skates and it was great, though I think I held her up for most of the skate. It was a cool experience. We got some pictures. We'll have some good memories out of that, and I'm glad they made it because they didn't come to the last outdoor game we had, in 2016 in Winnipeg, because I was injured and didn't play. I'm glad we got another chance at it.

We just finished a 1-4-0 homestand in Winnipeg and I think the general feeling is we can have fun with this experience, especially taking in all of today and enjoying it, but once that puck drops for the game, we want to be all business. We're in a spot now, at 5-6-0, that we want to get some wins and get some points and this is a big game for us with three road games to follow next week (at the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, San Jose Sharks on Friday, Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday) and hopefully it will turn into a good road trip for us. We want to have fun here, but it will be a lot more enjoyable if we get the win.

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