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Sights and sounds from Target Field and the Winter Classic

There were plenty of memorable moments beyond just the hockey played on Saturday night

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

MINNEAPOLIS -- Take every cliche about Minnesota winters you know and stuff all of them inside Target Field, ironically, one of the state's favorite summer destinations. 

That was the 2022 Discover Winter Classic on Saturday night. The NHL outdid itself one more time in the New Year's Day spectacle, showcasing everything that makes a Minnesota winter special. 

A little help from Mother Nature just added to the legend.

Puck drop for the Winter Classic was minus-5.7 degrees, which made it the coldest game in NHL history. It's a mark that will be tough to beat in the future. 

Tweet from @NHL: Luckily it wasn't unbearably cold. 😏🐻���������

And while the game didn't turn out the way Wild fans hoped it would - the Blues skated back to St. Louis with a 6-4 victory - there was so much more to the night than just the game on 'Rink 1,' as it was labeled on field level. 

Props to the Blues, by the way, for their legendary arrival. That was good stuff.

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: This weather's a beach. #stlblues #WinterClassic 

Here's just a sampling of the sights and sounds offered at Target Field on Saturday:

The 2022 edition of the Winter Classic was the first to actually be scheduled to start at night. While other games have been moved later into the afternoon or evening because of weather conditions, Saturday's game in Minneapolis was a scheduled 6:20ish puck drop. 

That means the NHL and the Wild was able to plan its pre-game lineups with that time of day in mind. And Minnesota's entrance to the field was awesome, emerging from a center-field warming house and, in a bit of 'Mystery, Alaska' feel, "skating the river" to the main sheet. 

Even St. Louis' entrance from the third-base dugout to the field had a dramatic, theatric feel with only a single spotlight illuminating the "bad guys" as they came on the field. 

With the teams on the ice, the national anthem and the raising of the American flag came next. 

Tasked with hoisting the Stars and Stripes on Saturday was retired Staff Sergeant John Kriesel, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of his legs in combat in 2006. 

Kriesel, a well-known personality in town who moonlights regularly on KFAN radio, was given a much-deserved standing ovation from the 38,000-plus in attendance, and later tweeted that the television cameras didn't get close enough to show the tears in his eyes. 

It was one heck of an emotional start to the evening. 

Tweet from @NHL: Staff Sergeant John Kriesel raises the stars and stripes, presented by @NavyFederal.

One other really cool note from Kriesel's night, which is well documented on his popular Twitter account, was the photo of his daughter, Chloe, watching Paw Patrol with Twins legend Kent Hrbek. What a fun photo that will be to show her one day.

Tweet from @johnkriesel: Another fun moment from last night was Chloe watching Paw Patrol with Hrbek.

Speaking of Hrbek, he was one of four Twins legends to drop the ceremonial opening puck, along with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and newly christened National Baseball Hall-of-Famer, Tony Oliva. 

Prior to those four, many of Minnesota's professional and college sports teams were represented on each of the seven "pond hockey" rinks scattered in center field, as they too had a series of ceremonial puck drops

With that, there was just final thing to do before the start of the game: the traditional "Let's play hockey," call to start the festivities. 

Doing the honor were a pair of former Wild players, goaltender Niklas Backstrom and captain Mikko Koivu, along with Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne.

Video: 2022 Winter Classic Opening Ceremony

Once the game got going, Kirill Kaprizov got the scoring started for the Wild, tying the game at 1-1 late in the first period.

Video: STL@MIN: Kaprizov sends puck off of a defender and in

Big props to Valdosta, Georgia native, Nashville resident and country music superstar Thomas Rhett, who braved the elements with his band on the State of Hockey stage to play four of his hit songs during the first intermission. 

There was some heat on the stage, but when the air temperature is approaching minus-10, you're certainly not used to that cold, and you're still playing an instrument, it's no easy task to pull off. 

And after playing for a packed house at Xcel Energy Center on New Year's Eve, Rhett and his band sounded fantastic on Saturday night.

Tweet from @NHL: What's Your Country Song and T-shirt by @ThomasRhett at the #WinterClassic had us like: 😍

With the Wild needing a rally in the second period, Adam Christopher Scott did his best to fire up the fellas, channelling his inner Herb Brooks by imitating the legendary Minnesota coach's locker room speech before the game against the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics, made famous by Kurt Russell's portrayal of Brooks in the movie, 'Miracle.'

Flanking Scott were a pair of guys who heard that speech in person, 1980 Olympians and Minnesota natives John Harrington and Buzz Schneider.

Tweet from @NHL: So cute, yet so inspiring. 🇺🇸 #WinterClassic

And while we're on the topic of Olympic heroes, USA Hockey unveiled the 2022 United States Women's Olympic Hockey Team on the ice during the second intermission. Good luck to those ladies as they aim for a second consecutive Gold Medal in Beijing starting next month.

Tweet from @usahockey: Special night at the @NHL's #WinterClassic! 🤩🇺🇸Coverage ��� | @TeamUSA

Another highlight of the night came during the third period, as a special reunion of sorts took place on one of the pond hockey rinks, as Great Clips brought back some legends of the Minnesota State High School All-Hockey Hair team from years past.

Some of these guys have been out of high school for many years now, but they still have some pretty nice flow. 

Nordy using the leaf blower in minus-10 temps must have really been a special moment for each of them.

Tweet from @NHL: Going with the flow here at the #WinterClassic ft. @NordyWild. 💨🇨🇦: @Sportsnet ������🇺🇸: @NHL_On_TNT ������

Beyond pond hockey in the outfield at Target Field, they also had a number of other activities going, including a camp fire.

Tweet from @NHL: "This isn't what I meant when I said I wanted a hot dog." #WinterClassic🇨🇦: @Sportsnet ������🇺🇸: @NHL_On_TNT ������

There was also log cutting and even ice "fishing":

Tweet from @NordyWild: Believe it or not I grew this beard in about 5 minutes. #WinterClassic

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