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The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Look Back: 2011 Winter Classic

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
The city of Pittsburgh was buzzing following the announcement that the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Heinz Field would play host to the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic.

The Penguins, who participated in the first-ever Winter Classic in a 2-1 shootout triumph at Buffalo in 2008, would welcome fierce rival Washington Capitals to Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day for the showdown.

After six months of hype and anticipation, the Penguins and Capitals dropped the puck in front of 68,111 fans and 4.5 million home viewers in the first primetime outdoor showcase in the midst of a rainstorm.

When the dust had settled, the Capitals would leave as victors following a 3-1 decision. However, the Winter Classic became so much more than just the 60 minutes of battle between the two teams. Although the game did provide its own drama – particularly the return of Penguins center Jordan Staal to the lineup after missing the previous 40 games of the season.

The Penguins organization and the city of Pittsburgh, as was their goal after being awarded the event, turned the Winter Classic into a weeklong celebration of hockey in the city and region.

Pittsburgh’s Winter Classic not only had a contest between the game’s two highest-profile stars and bitter rivals (Pens-Caps; Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin), but also featured an alumni game (with legends like Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Larry Murphy and Peter Bondra), an outdoor community rink adjacent to Heinz Field that was used for amateur hockey and public skates, a double-header of AHL (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton-Hershey) and NCAA hockey (RMU-RIT) played at CONSOL Energy Center and many more countless events and memories.

And how can anyone even select the greatest moments during the week? Everyone will recall several different and unique events of their experience during the week.

Pittsburgh left its mark on the hockey world. And the city, the Steelers and the Penguins can be proud of the efforts and the results of all their hard work. Pittsburgh’s star shined bright for the world to see and proved that the city truly is a hockey town.

22 Million dollars of economic impact to the city of Pittsburgh, according to VisitPittsburgh
38 The rink build at Heinz Field began Dec. 23, 38 years to the day of the "Immaculate Reception" by Franco Harris in the 1972 Steelers-Oakland Raiders AFC Championship Game
53 Length, in feet, of the world's largest mobile rink refrigeration unit, specially built for the NHL Winter Classic
66 Number worn by NHL legend Mario Lemieux, playing in the Dec. 31 alumni game at Heinz Field
300 Ton capacity of refrigeration trailer that kept the ice cool at Heinz Field
350 Gallons of paint to make Heinz Field ice white
2003 The Heritage Classic is played in Edmonton between the Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens, the first NHL outdoor game in history
2008 The first NHL Winter Classic is played in Buffalo between the Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins, with Sidney Crosby netting the game-winner in a shootout
3,000 Gallons of coolant used to freeze the Heinz Field rink
5,000 Square foot temporary Winter Classic store created by Dick's Sporting Goods in Pittsburgh leading into the event
10,000 Gallons of water needed to create a one-inch deep ice surface on Heinz Field
68,111 Number of fans that attended the NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field
4.5       Million viewers - the most-viewed NHL regular season game in 36 years. The 4.5 million viewers represents a 22-percent increase over last year's game played in Boston's Fenway Park (3.7 million viewers).

For a look back at the coverage from the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic, check out below:

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