The atmosphere at New Era Field in Buffalo for Team USA’s wild 4-3 shootout win over Canada in the outdoor game was incredible. The quality of play? Not so much.
With snowflakes as thick as hockey pucks flying from puck drop to the final whistle, the very first outdoor spectacle in the tournament’s history was a sight to behold for the World-Junior record 44,000-plus in attendance. The atmosphere was electric, but the conditions for both the players involved in the game and those watching at home on television was a completely different story.
The ice in this #USAvsCAN game looks brutal. Players are slipping and sliding everywhere. For a game as important as this to showcase speed, skill, ability of the youth to the world…. it's gonna be tough to enjoy this if you're looking for elite skilled hockey. pic.twitter.com/2yosqlGo5p
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 29, 2017
The relentless snow piling up on the ice surface yielded not only unsafe conditions for players on both sides, but made it nearly impossible to stick handle, pass or carry the puck — resulting in a sloppy brand of play that overshadowed what should be the marquee round-robin matchup of the tournament.
Aside from the brutal conditions drastically effecting the quality of play and its combatants’ ability to showcase any type of actual hockey skills, the game was also a tough one for those at home watching on television, with a low camera angle and the blistery conditions making the TV viewing experience less than ideal.
— Justin (@mytweets66) December 29, 2017
— meganfluevog (@meganfluevog) December 29, 2017
All in all, the game had fans and viewers in and at home torn on whether it was an amazing experience with a perfect backdrop for outdoor hockey, or one that tainted the most important preliminary game of the tournament for both sides:
— Tyler (@tbone2196) December 29, 2017
wonder when players are going to rise up & say, enough of this. Not every team plays these games hence they should not count. Look at this, wheelbarrows full of snow on the ice! this is good? this is 'a postcard'? Come on, hockey, get serious. #USAvsCAN #worldjuniors2018 https://t.co/NowGwwYFKS
— Karlo Berkovich (@KarloBerkovich) December 29, 2017
— Derek Felix (@NewYorkPuck) December 29, 2017
— Travis Currie (@travcurrie) December 29, 2017
For better or worse, chalk it up as another memorable classic between the two neighbouring hockey powerhouses at the World Juniors.