Ice hockey took a huge hit last year when the 2012/13 lockout all but destroyed the season for players and fans alike. More than 50% of the League’s fixtures were cancelled and the Winter Classic was set back a year.
Thankfully, on 1 January, the Toronto Maple Leafs travel west to Michigan for a clash with Detroit in the freezing outdoors. That’s right, the Winter Classic is back!
Of course, NHL betting fans are used to cold temperatures in the rink but an open-air game in northern United States is just as chilling as north of the border. January temperatures in Ann Arbor fall to 18f (-8c), their record low a crippling -22f (-30c). It’s certainly not outdoor weather, but that’s what makes the Winter Classic such a great event.
Indeed, despite the cold, many punters betting on NHL will simply be grateful the Winter Classic is back on our TV screens. This annual event draws an increasingly interested audience since its inception in 2008 and there is more attention on the game this year than ever before after the League confirmed it will not host the All Star Game because of a clash with the Olympic Games in Sochi.
If you are looking for some mean hockey with a twist, the Winter Classic is the event for you and tickets are still available. Ahead of the game, it looks almost too close to call as both Toronto and Detroit sit anchored in the middle of the Atlantic Division.
The game is likely to be decided by whoever gets to grips with the outdoor conditions, which threaten the odd snowflake or two inside a college football arena capable of hosting over 100,000 hockey enthusiasts.