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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:30 pm

NHL to hold 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame



CHICAGO — The Winter Classic is headed to college for the second time.

The Boston Bruins will meet the Chicago Blackhawks in the Jan. 1, 2019, game at Notre Dame. The NHL also held its signature outdoor event at a college football stadium in 2014, with the Toronto Maple Leafs topping the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout at Michigan Stadium.

"Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Saturday in a news release.

It's the fourth Winter Classic for Chicago. The Blackhawks dropped each of their first three appearances, losing 6-4 to Detroit in the 2009 game at Wrigley Field, 3-2 to Washington in 2015 at Nationals Park and 4-1 to St. Louis this year at Busch Stadium.

Boston split its first two appearances in the Winter Classic. The Bruins beat Philadelphia 2-1 in overtime at Fenway Park in 2010 but lost 5-1 to Montreal at Gillette Stadium in 2016.

"The rich history of Notre Dame Stadium is well documented, and our team looks forward to playing at such an iconic venue," Bruins president Cam Neely said. "We hope that by participating in these large scale and unique NHL events we can bring Bruins fans new hockey experiences, and that we can use these opportunities to help grow our great game and attract new fans."

Each team has a connection to Notre Dame. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is an alumnus, and the team has held part of its training camp on campus four times in the past five years. Former Bruins forward Dave Poulin played for the Irish from 1978-82 and served as the head coach for the program for 10 years.

"I believe it's only fitting that two of the NHL's legendary Original Six teams will take the ice for the first hockey game in one of America's most iconic athletic facilities," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said. "Hosting two franchises with so many connections to Notre Dame also provides a unique opportunity to celebrate our hockey legacy."

The Buffalo Sabres will take on the New York Rangers in the next Winter Classic at New York City's Citi Field.