Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey (27) checks Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) Paul Sancya/The Associated Press
About 110,000 fans braved the cold in Ann Arbor, Mich., as the Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout to win the NHL's Winter Classic game.
Tyler Bozak netted the shootout winner, and Joffrey Lupul also scored, as the Leafs won 3-2 with temperatures dipping in the –10 C range
The crowds that packed Michigan Stadium, affectionately known as the Big House, for the New Year's Day NHL hockey game could surpass the previous attendance record of 104,173 set in 2010.
That record was set in the same stadium in a game between Michigan and Michigan State, according to Guinness World Records.
An average of 53,045 spectators watched the first five NHL Winter Classics in different cities.
Reporting from the stadium Wednesday morning, CBC's Amanda Margison said fans began lining up early, and even took part in tailgating despite the frigid temperatures.
"This stadium is called the Big House and it's awe-inspiring, truly a modern-day coliseum," she reported. Many of the players say this game hearkens back to their roots, when they learned to play hockey."
One-hour waits were reported at border crossings between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit on Tuesday night and early Wednesday as thousands of Canadians headed to Michigan ahead of the game.
Snow will be a challenge for players
The forecast is for snow, between five and 10 centimetres, something that isn't part of a normal hockey game, so players know this won't be close to normal.
"You have to keep it really simple if the wind and the snow starts coming down," said Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk. "That's something you kind of adjust to when you're out there a little bit and see what the weather brings."
If the puck drops amid snowflakes, the dynamics of the game could change.
"If it starts snowing, you simplify the game even more," said Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, who signed a $49-million US, seven-year deal that was announced Tuesday. "I think shoot from everywhere and chip pucks. I think if it snows too much, I don't know if we can actually play the game, so hopefully it doesn't snow too much. If it snows a lot, it's going to be tough to play through that."
Added Leafs winger Phil Kessel: "I think the puck won't slide as well, obviously. But who knows, right? I have no clue. Hopefully it's not too cold because I think the fans will be freezing because it was chilly."
Cold is ideal for an event like this.
"It adds to the atmosphere," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It adds to the memory."