Minneapolis NHL Winter Classic sets record for coldest game in league history

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The Target Center in Minneapolis set the record for the coldest game in National Hockey League history when it hosted the Winter Classic on Saturday night.

According to Fox 9 Minneapolis, temperatures when the puck dropped at 6:20 p.m. between the Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues were around -7 degrees, and the wind chill was predicted to be around -18 degrees.

At 8:30 p.m., temperatures at the stadium were around -9 degrees. 

Target Center on Saturday, January 1. (Credit: Fox 9 IDS Center webcam)

Because of the cold weather, according to the NHL, 40,000 hand-warmers are available to be distributed at the game and concession stands will have soup.

Even in sub-zero weather, the ice still has to be heated, according to the article. 

“Once we get too cold, we can have some issues with it being brittle or skate marks where it does chip away, so we really try to control that temperature,” NHL’s senior manager of facilities operations, Mike Craig, said.

Fans outside the Target Center on January 1 before the Winter Classic. (Credit: Fox 9 staff)
((Credit: Fox 9 staff))

Since conditions are so cold, heat will be transferred to the ice from a mobile refrigeration unit.

“When the air temperature is above the optimum ice temperature, the glycol and aluminum pans transfer heat away from the ice. But when the air temperature is below the optimum ice temperature, it transfers heat to the ice. The NHL has used a custom-made inline heater before to warm the glycol in the pipes on the way to the floor, but here it will use two inline heaters for the first time, one at the refrigeration truck and another in the outfield. The crew can calibrate the temperature to a half-degree,” the NHL article noted.

Fans outside the Target Center on January 1 before the Winter Classic. (Credit: Fox 9 staff)
((Credit: Fox 9 staff))

The NHL, however, doesn’t believe the cold weather will discourage fans from attending the game.

“We had a lot of people here in Minnesota who told us also how tough a Minnesota fan is, and that was certainly a factor in coming here,” NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said.

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