Philadelphia Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare played in his first NHL outdoor game, the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field on Saturday. Bellemare, 31, played 12:26 and had one shot, three hits and one blocked shot. In his final entry of his Stadium Series diary, Bellemare talks about how he tried to keep his day as normal as possible but did take a moment to appreciate his surroundings.
PITTSBURGH -- Our day started with a team meeting, then we had lunch, and then after that I had my normal day. Got my nap and prepared myself for the game.
For our bus ride to the stadium we had a police escort, which was unbelievable. People in Flyers jerseys and Pittsburgh jerseys everywhere. That was pretty neat.
When we got to the rink I went through my normal routine. Usually I play soccer, so we went outside to play soccer, but it was freezing cold. I was running so hard just to stay warm. But it was fun. There were a lot of people, a lot of emotion in the air.
After that I got my gear on and walked out. I've seen on video the way it's looked on the walk-outs for other outdoor games, and to actually be doing it myself, it felt unbelievable. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I took some time to look around the stadium when I was walking in and during the national anthem. I was really trying to take it in so I could focus on the game afterwards.
Going through the pregame warmup was different. The wind was crazy. [It] felt like we were going uphill when we skated toward the blue line. All the guys would try to handle the puck and their stick would fly away a little bit, so we had to hold it harder. During the game it settled down a bit, and the ice was decent. I thought they did a great job.
For me, it really felt like a normal game. Once the puck dropped you just start focusing in on the game. But then sometimes some paper would fly onto the ice and I would think, 'This is kind of different than normal.'
I thought we played a good game. We were up with the shots and we had chances. We just felt like its coming, keep going, its coming. That's how I felt the entire game. The first period was ours but they got out with a 1-0 lead. The second period they scored and we came back with a goal. You really felt like we were coming back.
We worked hard, and when it doesn't go your way there's nothing worse than the feeling of losing a game, especially where we are in the standings. It was a tough one.
I enjoyed every part of the whole experience here, but when you don't get the outcome you get a sour ending out of it. But maybe a couple weeks, couple months from now, I'll be able to see how unbelievable the experience was.