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NHL to pay tribute to U.S. Armed Forces, Nation's Capital during festivities at 2015 NHL Winter Classic @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK – The 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the New Year's Day outdoor game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (1:00 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA), will pay tribute to the United States Armed Forces during pre-game and in-game festivities, which will feature an anthem ceremony with the Armed Forces Color Guard, the U.S. Army Chorus and U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, singers Master Sergeants Bob McDonald and Caleb Green, and the National Capital Region Eagles; a flyover by the D.C. Air National Guard, 113th Wing; and performances by punk pioneer and rock and roll icon Billy Idol, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw, and country music artist Lee Greenwood.

The décor and field design at Nationals Park for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will visually celebrate the city of Washington, D.C. The League will honor all five branches of the military throughout the day.

The full lineup of performances and special celebrations for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is being produced by IMG Productions, a global leader in sports, fashion and media.

Gavin DeGraw, Billy Idol and Lee Greenwood will perform at the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day. (Photo: RCA RECORDS PRESS,, Lee Greenwood)

Billy Idol – Pre-Game Performance

British rock star Billy Idol will open the game with a performance from the main stage at home plate before puck drop. Following his performance, Idol will be joined near the stage by more than 150 members of all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, who will be attending the game as honored guests of the NHL, for a special salute.

U.S. Anthem Ceremony

The Armed Forces Color Guard, made up of members of each of the five military branches; the U.S. Army Chorus and U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, members of the U.S. Army band "Pershing's Own"; Master Sergeants Bob McDonald and Caleb Green, anthem singers for the Washington Capitals; and members of the National Capital Region Eagles, a local military hockey club that will display the United States flag, will perform together during the U.S. national anthem.

The U.S. Army Chorus was established in 1956 as the vocal counterpart of the U.S. Army band "Pershing's Own" and is one of the nation's only professional men's choruses. The Army Chorus performs frequently at the White House, the Vice President's Residence, the U.S. Capitol and the State Department as well as for world leaders and dignitaries.

The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets is the official fanfare ensemble for the President of the United States. Founded in 1959 and patterned after traditional British "fanfare" trumpet ensembles, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets was formed to add splendor to official military ceremonies. A performing element of the U.S. Army band "Pershing's Own" in Washington, D.C., the ensemble has performed for countless events of national and international significance.

Master Sergeant Bob McDonald has been singing at Capitals games since the 1992-93 season. As an active duty soldier, he also sings in the U.S. Army Chorus.

Master Sergeant Caleb B. Green III, a solo vocalist with the U.S. Army band, has sung at dozens of Capitals games since he was stationed in D.C. in 1999. The Hampton, Va., native sang at President Barack Obama's Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial and also performs at Washington Redskins games.

The NCR Joint Military Hockey Team is the only military hockey team in the D.C. area – it is a combination of the old Fort Meade team and the old Quantico Marine Corps team. The team practices at the Tucker Road Ice Rink in Fort Washington, Md., and plays games at the Prince William Ice Center in Dale City, Va.

Auxiliary Rink

More than 20 children will take to the ice on an auxiliary rink at Nationals Park during pre-game and intermissions. Kids involved are from the local area, including hockey players from the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club – a member of the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone program – as well as kids from the Rooftop Hockey League with the Kettler Capitals Iceplex – a USA Hockey Model Association program.

Eight local boys and girls, between the ages of eight and 13 years old, will be a part of the player introductions at the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic as part of McDonalds' "In the Lineup" program.

Flyover by the Capital Guardians, 113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard

Immediately following the U.S. anthem, pilots from the D.C. Air National Guard's 113th Wing based at Joint Base Andrews, Md., will fly two F-16 Fighter Jets over Nationals Park in salute of the U.S Armed Forces and to celebrate the start of the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Known as the "Capital Guardians," the 1,200 Airmen-strong Wing is responsible for the air defense of the Nation's Capital Region – including the nation's capital. On Sept. 11, D.C. Guard fighter pilots were the first jets in the air over the Pentagon. The 113th Wing continues to perform a 24/7 alert mission at Andrews, always ready and able to protect the skies over the nation's capital.

Gavin DeGraw – First Intermission

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter – and longtime hockey fan – Gavin DeGraw will take to the field during the first intermission for a set of his chart-topping hits.

DeGraw is not a stranger to the top of the charts. He broke through with the 2003 release of his debut album, Chariot, which sold more than 1 million copies, earned platinum certification and yielded three hit singles: "I Don't Want to Be," "Follow Through" and the title-track, "Chariot." DeGraw's self-titled second album debuted at No. 1 on the digital sales chart and at No. 7 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart in 2008, earning him his first Top 10 album. It spawned the hit singles "In Love with a Girl," which Billboard dubbed "a rocking homerun," and the gold-certified "We Belong Together." In 2009, DeGraw released Free as a gift to his die-hard fans clamoring for recorded versions of his live favorites. DeGraw released his third studio album, Sweeter, in September 2011. The album's first single, "Not Over You," co-written with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, reached No. 1 on the Hot AC charts, was a top 10 hit on Top 40 and was certified double platinum. DeGraw's acclaimed fourth studio album, Make a Move, was released in October 2013 to rave reviews. Shortly thereafter he was nominated for his first Grammy for "We Both Know," a song he co-wrote with Colbie Calliat for the 2013 film "Safe Haven."

FINEST HOUR: THE BEST OF GAVIN DEGRAW was released October 21 via RCA Records. The album features two new songs, including the new single "Fire" as well as his most renowned and notable hits to date.

Army General Mark A. Milley, the 21st and current Commanding General of the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), will be honored during the second period of the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. A hockey star at Princeton University (Class of 1980), General Milley is the only NCAA Division I hockey player to become a four-star general. For the last 31 years, General Milley has held multiple command and staff positions in six Infantry Divisions and Special Forces, including two previous tours with the 10th Mountain Division. He will be joined by three Wounded Warriors at the game.

U.S. Army Chorus and Lee Greenwood – Second Intermission

During the game's second intermission, the U.S. Army Chorus will return to perform each branch's official service song – the Coast Guard's "Semper Paratus," the Air Force's "Official U.S. Air Force Song," the Navy's "Anchors Aweigh," the Marine Corps' "The Marine's Hymn" and the U.S. Army's "The Army Goes Rolling Along" – while active and veteran members of the U.S. military are recognized in the stands. Lee Greenwood then will give a rousing performance of his patriotic hit "God Bless the USA."

Greenwood is a country music icon with more than 30 albums to his credit, including his 2013 MCA-released album ICON. "God Bless the USA" has been voted the most recognizable patriotic song in America. Greenwood knows first-hand what it's like to have loved ones fighting for the freedom of all Americans as his father served in the Navy and the Merchant Marine in World War II. "God Bless the USA" is now part of the film for Homeland Security shown when swearing in new citizens to the United States.

"God Bless the USA" has been in the top five on the country singles charts three times (1991, 2001 and 2003), giving it the distinction of being the only song in any genre of music to achieve that feat. It also was No. 1 on the pop charts after Sept. 11.

Bridgestone Hockey Saves Initiative

Bridgestone, the title sponsor of the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, will host members of the Hockey Saves programs in Chicago and Washington, D.C., at Nationals Park on Jan. 1. The charitable program, which supports war veterans who have been injured in the line of duty through organized hockey games and hockey-themed programs, has branches across the U.S.

For the latest on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, fans should follow the NHL on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and join the conversation by using the official hashtag #WinterClassic.

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