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Outdoor game inspires friendly rivalry among Rangers

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- When the New York Rangers take the ice at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26 against the New Jersey Devils and Jan. 29 against the New York Islanders as part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, they'll already have a wealth of experience playing stadium games.

A number of Rangers players competed in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, where New York beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2.

But one outdoor game in particular gets three Rangers teammates especially riled up. On Feb. 6, 2010, the University of Wisconsin hosted the Camp Randall Hockey Classic, an outdoor double-header in which the Badgers played in front of 55,031 fans at the school's Camp Randall Stadium.

After the UW women's team beat Bemidji State, 6-1, a Wisconsin men's team featuring future Rangers Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh faced off against the University of Michigan and another current Ranger, forward Carl Hagelin.

"It's cool," Stepan said. "It was a fun experience."

Hagelin gave the Wolverines a late lead when he set up Kevin Lynch's go-ahead goal 11:03 into the third period. But the Badgers stormed back; current Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith scored two power-play goals in the final minutes, with Stepan assisting on both scores.

It's a comeback the group still talks about, with contrasting feelings about how the game ended.

"We bring it up once in a while. We obviously lost. They scored two goals in the last four minutes. A couple of bad calls by the ref, I would say," Hagelin said. "I do bring that up. We were up 2-1 with five minutes to go and then they get two PP goals. Step had the second assist on both of them. So we've talked about that a lot. That was a fun experience."

Naturally, McDonagh and Stepan have differing opinions on the officiating that day at Camp Randall Stadium. They're all too happy to dismiss their teammate's recollection of that epic outdoor matchup.

"He still brings it up. That's his business. He's the one who has to live with it," McDonagh said, laughing. "It gets brought up every now and then. It will probably be brought up again closer to the outdoor games for us. He'll give you all sorts of excuses, but he can be the one to do that."

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