Former Waterloo Black Hawks should be on both sides of Wednesday’s NHL Winter Classic. Joe Pavelski and the Dallas Stars host Craig Smith and the Nashville Predators on temporary outdoor ice at the Cotton Bowl.
It will be the first time that two former Waterloo stars have gone on to face each other in an NHL outdoor game, but Hawks alumni do have several other ties to these prestigious events.
February 21, 2015 – NHL Stadium Series
Texas is certainly a warm spot to play an outdoor game, but it’s nothing new for Pavelski. When he was with the San Jose Sharks, they met the L.A. Kings at Levi’s Stadium, home of the NFL’s San Francisco Giants.
The game was a rematch of a Western Conference playoff series from the year before, which the Kings had won in seven games before later going on to claim the Stanley Cup. L.A. topped the Sharks again during the outdoor contest, 2-1.
Pavelski had more ice time than any other San Jose forward (22:38), finishing second only to Brent Burns among his teammates.
February 21, 2016 – NHL Stadium Series
Rookie forward Vinnie Hinostroza was up with the Chicago Blackhawks when they visited the Minnesota Wild for a game at TCF Bank Stadium, home of Minnesota Gophers football.
Hinostroza appeared in just his seventh NHL game during the matchup. He put one shot on goal and was -1.
The Wild dominated the game, skating to a 6-1 victory.
January 2, 2017 – NHL Winter Classic
Hinostroza and the Blackhawks didn’t fare much better the following season at Busch Stadium, scene of many memorable games between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.
The Blackhawks scored first – just 1:02 into the game – and held the lead for more than a full period before the St. Louis Blues tied it in the middle of the second. The teams were still even until 7:55 remained, when St. Louis notched the first of three third period goals for a 4-1 win.
By this time, Hinostroza had become a more established part of the Chicago lineup. His ice time included a couple of power play shifts and two shots on goal.
Defenseman Mark Eaton would likely have played in the first NHL Winter Classic, except for a knee injury less than two weeks earlier. He would miss the rest of the 2007/08 season.
Eaton’s Pittsburgh Penguins topped the Buffalo Sabres in the snow at Ralph Wilson Stadium with a 2-1 shootout victory in front of over 70,000 fans.