Ranking the Winter Classic Venues
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
The National Hockey League struck marketing gold when they came up with the idea to hold an outdoor game on New Year's Day. Starting in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, the game is now in its 14th iteration as it gets ready for the 2023 game, to be held at Fenway Park in Boston. With this game, Fenway will become the first repeat host and Boston will become the first city to host the Winter Classic three times.
Since we love to make ranking lists here at Stadium Journey, we've come up with our great idea, to rank 12 of the 13 venues that have hosted the Winter Classic (sorry Cotton Bowl, we don't have an active review of you). Now please keep in mind, we're not ranking the Winter Classic games themselves, but the stadiums when hosting their primary tenant (usually an MLB or NFL team).
As always, we rank the venues according to our patented FANFARE rating scale, which takes into account a facility's food, gameday atmosphere, neighborhood, fans, access, value, and more. Where two or more venues are tied, a council of Stadium Journey elders was consulted to break the tie. A testament to the quality of these stadia is the fact that 11 of the 12 venues scored a 4.00 or higher on our scale.
Without further ado, we present our ranking of the Winter Classic venues.
2014 - Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Detroit Red Wings 2 (shootout)
Toronto was the first Canadian team to play in the Winter Classic and came out victorious before a crowd of 105,491, the largest in NHL history. Tyler Bozek netted the game-winner for the Leafs.
2011 - Washington Capitals 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 1.
The game was moved from its original 1:00 PM time to 8:00 due to weather issues. Eric Fehr netted two goals for the Caps. Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves in the win.
2009 - Detroit Red Wings 6, Chicago Blackhawks 4
A run of five consecutive goals by Detroit, including two by Jiri Hudler, sealed this Original Six matchup as the Winter Classic moved to a baseball stadium for the first time.
2010 - Boston Bruins 2, Philadelphia Flyers 1 (overtime)
Marco Sturm's overtime goal made the Bruins the first home team to emerge victorious in the Winter Classic. This game also featured the first fight in game history, between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Carcillo.
2018 - New York Rangers 3, Buffalo Sabres 2 (overtime)
J.T. Miller scored an overtime goal to give the Rangers the win in an "away" game played in New York City. Robin Lehner made 39 saves to keep the game close.
2022 - St. Louis Blues 6, Minnesota Wild 4
Minnesota finally got a chance to host the Winter Classic after the 2021 game was postponed due to the Covid epidemic. With a game-time temperature of -5 degrees Fahrenheit, this was the coldest Winter Classic. The Blues scored five goals in the second period, with Jordan Kyrou tallying two goals and two assists.
2017 - St. Louis Blues 4, Chicago Blackhawks 1
Vladimir Tarasenko scored a pair of third-period goals to break a 1-1 tie and lead the Blues to victory in their first appearance in the Winter Classic.
2012 - New York Rangers 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2
This game was moved to January 2 so as not to conflict with the day's college bowl games. Michael Rupp scored two goals, with the Rangers scoring the game's final three goals to take the win.
2016 - Montreal Canadiens 5, Boston Bruins 1
Montreal improved Canadian teams to 2-0 in the Winter Classic as they dominated the Bruins in a lackluster affair. Paul Byron scored two goals and Mike Condon made 26 saves for Montreal.
2019 - Boston Bruins 4, Chicago Blackhawks 2
Tuukka Rask made 26 saves in the victory and David Pastrnak led a balanced Bruins attack with a goal and an assist in the shadow of "Goal Celly Jesus" at Notre Dame.
2015 - Washington Capitals 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2
Troy Brower's power-play goal with just thirteen seconds left in the game lifted the Capitals to victory. They became the first home team to win the Winter Classic in regulation.
12. Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY - 3.00
2008 - Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Buffalo Sabres 1 (shootout)
The inaugural Winter Classic was a rousing success, with light snow adding to the visual magic of the event. Sidney Crosby scored the deciding goal in the third and final round of the shootout.
Cotton Bowl - Dallas, TX - no score
2020 - Dallas Stars 4, Nashville Predators 2
Dallas spotted Nashville a two-goal lead before storming back with four straight scores to take the first game played in the south. Both goalies (Dallas' Ben Bishop and Nashville's Pekka Rinne) made 31 saves.