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Roenick: Alumni game provided return to young days

by Jeremy Roenick
NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for every Wednesday during the season. Roenick, though, couldn't limit himself to one blog this week.

He suited up in the Molson Canadian 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game on Saturday and wore No. 97 for the Flyers. Roenick finished a plus-1 in 12:48 of ice time. He was introduced after Eric Lindros, who received the loudest and longest ovation from the 45,808 at Citizens Bank Park. He was robbed by Rangers goalie Dan Blackburn. But, the experience was magical and Roenick fulfilled some childhood dreams.

Here is his experience, in J.R.'s own words:

There I was, standing on the top step of the Phillies dugout, waiting to be introduced and listening to the roaring ovation that Eric Lindros was getting. It was such a great introduction for him. He deserved a really good ovation for what he's done for this city and the city acknowledged what he's done. It is a class move by this town and I think Eric really appreciated it.

And, it was nice coming after him because there was still some of the residual applause. That was great.

When you're out there at the start of the game, first of all you're thinking that you just can't get hurt. I was like, 'Oh please, don't pull anything.' A lot of us haven't played for a long time.

We had to make sure there was respect, and there was a lot of it on both sides.

The ice was expectedly just OK, so we weren't going to have very crisp passes or plays, but the intensity was actually pretty good. I honestly thought the guys worked hard, and I was especially impressed by watching Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach and Bill Barber because they were moving the puck well and had a couple of great chances to score.

But, I don't think anybody can disagree that our goaltenders stole the show.

We have to start with Bernie Parent. He played well and didn't allow a goal in his four minutes of ice time, but it wasn't just the way he played -- it was so much more. After not being on the ice for 34 years, for him to come out and get the ovation that he had; it put chills up my spine. What a wonderful man and the way they acknowledged him here, you know why he's such an icon in this city.

Then Mark Laforest and Neil Little shut the door for us. It'll probably be the lowest scoring alumni game in the history of alumni games, and it definitely was Neil Little's best game as a Flyer. Especially at the end, he kind of looked like Denny Lemieux, he was getting peppered so much.

Overall, it was just amazing to be out there. To be down on the ice and look up in the stands and see the amount of people in this building all standing up, it was inspiring. I really was in awe. It was such a great experience. I have never been in something like this and I'm very proud I got to do it, especially in a Flyers uniform.

What it also did was give me a new appreciation for the Winter Classic because it felt like I was a kid again, playing outside with my buddies, playing a little shinny game on the pond. It really brought me back to those days -- even though it was a little warmer than I remember.

To look up and see the blue sky, the clouds, the people around and a lot of familiar faces that brought me back to my days here, it was just really awe-inspiring to me.

And, being on the ice with Clarkie, that was amazing. I'm just happy he kept his stick down, though he did clip one guy so at least we saw some of his old antics again.

It was also nice playing with Kenny Linseman, 'The Rat.' I grew up watching him play and just loving it because I was a big Bruins fan growing up, and I remember him just driving people crazy when he played for the Bruins.

I'd like to think we played pretty well together.

One of the great things I'm so happy I did was right before we came out for the third period a couple of us got all the boys to sign our jerseys. I mean, if you're in a room with all these legends and you don't get some kind of memorabilia from them shame on you. This jersey is something that I'll hang in my living room.

This experience is going to live with me forever.

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