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NHL Winter Classic

Ryan O'Reilly of Sabres already primed for 2018 Winter Classic

Buffalo forward, teammates to play against Rangers at Citi Field

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

PARIS -- Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly said he's excited to take his game outdoors.

O'Reilly and the Sabres will play the New York Rangers in the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2018, at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.

"You get the little-kid excitement back in the game when you think about doing it and all the hype around it," said O'Reilly, who's playing for Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. "It's cool. It's something a lot of us haven't been a part of. It takes the NHL to another level."

 

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The Sabres hosted the first NHL Winter Classic, a 2-1 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 1, 2008, in front of 71,217 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills.

Memories of that event have helped fuel O'Reilly's enthusiasm.

"What you hear about that, from the trainers and staff that were around for it, is it's an amazing time," said O'Reilly, who has played two seasons with the Sabres after starting his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche. "To do it in New York around that time will be amazing. Everyone I talk to is really pumped for it. It's great. It sells the game a lot. To get the chance to play outdoors is cool."

The Sabres and Rangers have played 177 times in the regular season since the Sabres entered the League for the 1970-71 season. The Sabres hold a 196-172 edge in points.

"We have a good team that will hopefully be a competitive team, and to play in that against a good rival like the New York Rangers … a lot of people in Buffalo, it's one of the teams they hate," O'Reilly said. "It's pretty cool. It's a good rivalry. It'll be awesome that way.

"I'm looking forward to it."

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