Philadelphia Flyers center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is playing in his first NHL outdoor game, the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV). Bellemare, 31, has six points in 60 games this season. In his latest entry on the Stadium Series, Bellemare talks about his previous outdoor game experience and more.
PITTSBURGH -- When the bus pulled up to Heinz Field, it was a little different, seeing this humongous building that you're going to be playing in. Everyone was eyeing it up.
Before practice I walked out, just wanted to check the ice and check out the stadium. It was all black and yellow. My first reaction was that this is terrific. And then how huge it is.
When we went out for our practice, the first thing I felt coming down the stairs was how hot it was and I thought that this is going to be interesting. It also wasn't as bright as I thought it would be. But looking around, everything looked terrific. And huge.
Not sure if it was because we were outside; we were walking with our game jerseys on for the team picture, but it was a really, really cool feeling. You know you were doing something that's not usual. It's not a usual day, not a usual practice.
We switched into our regular practice jerseys after the picture, but the practice had a different feel. All around the rink were the families, and it felt like the guys were skating harder because the families were there. It was a great feeling.
We skated for about a half-hour. I thought they did a good job with the ice, especially with the weather. And I know it's going to be colder for the game.
After practice all the families came onto the ice. During the NHL season you don't really get a chance to skate with your family except at the team Christmas party. But not only were you skating with your family, but it's outdoors at a big NFL stadium. My mom came in from France, and we were talking about it and she said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We're happy we got to experience it together, and also with my wife. It was a lot of fun.
After practice I took a shower and went back out into the stadium to take one more peak at how great everything looked. Then I found my wife and my mom and we went out for a nice dinner. Waiting outside the stadium for a cab to the restaurant, it was funny to see all the families together, everybody waiting for cabs to different places and enjoying a bit of family time. It's much different than the normal road game.
It's great how the NHL allows this part of the outdoor game experience, which is really cool. They realize how big it is and how crazy a life experience it is and they allow you to have your family with you. It's unbelievable.
After dinner I went back to the team hotel, and now it's all game-time preparation. We'll have our morning ritual with the team here, and then it's my regular nap and wait for the game. I'm not the kind of guy that gets crazy-anxious or excited about stuff. I'm excited but I don't get over the top. I try to keep myself under control. There's nothing I can do before I'm on the ice playing my role. I'll try to keep it cool. Go about my day like a normal day.
When we come out for the game I'll be really excited. I just hope I'll be able to enjoy it fully and not just think about next shift, next shift. That's usually what I do. I have to take a minute during the walk-out or something to take it all in and enjoy it because sometimes I have a hard time doing that, I'm focused too much on what's going to happen, what's my next shift going to look like.
It's a normal day, a normal game, but a huge two points for us at the end of the day. It'll be extra sweet if we can get the two points in this stadium for sure.