Photo: The Pink Puck

In the end, the Blues‘ star power was too much for former Blackhawks at Saturday’s Winter Classic Alumni Game.

Despite a hat trick from Kyle Calder, a Hawk from 1999-2006, and flurrying last-minute chances, Chicago fell 8-7 to St. Louis.

No one appeared defeated, though.

“That’s it. I was done, ready to go home,” former Hawk Brent Sopel said about taking a photo with “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky during warmups.

In the running-clock 20-minute periods, a total of 15 goals were scored.

Pierre Turgeon tallied first, shooting a puck past legendary Blackhawk goalie Darren Pang just 2:31 into the game. Jim Cummins tied the score just a couple minutes later.

Then, with a gorgeous setup from Ben Eager, Calder scored his first goal of the afternoon to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.

This was quickly answered, however, on an Bruce Affleck-to-Larry Patey play halfway through the first.

And then, about three minutes before first intermission, Calder went top-shelf for a 3-2 Blackhawks lead.

In the second period, the Blues capitalized on having Murray Bannerman (1980-1987) in net, scoring three goals.

Gretzky dished to Bernie Federko, who knotted the score at 3-3. Then, Peter Stastny shot high when Bannerman went low a bit too soon for a 4-3 lead less than five minutes into the period.

Kelly Chase scored next, making it 5-3.

But Reid Simpson responded for Chicago shortly after, and Ben Eager tied the game once more, 5-5, with about five minutes left in the second.

Barret Jackman closed the second with a goal, though, giving the Blues the upperhand going into the third.

Less than three minutes into the third, Daniel Carcillo (recipient of jeers), showed nice control taking the puck from behind the net to a shot from the front for a 6-6 score.

The next two would go to the Blues, with Keith Tkachuk regaining the lead 7-6.

 

 

The Blues earned bonus security with Pierre Turgeon slipping a second goal past Jimmy Waite shortly after.

 

 


Despite Martin Brodeur‘s intense third period play, Calder was able to net his third goal–though no hats could’ve reached the ice from the stands–bringing Chicago back within one.

Chicago maintained quite a bit of control until the end, but the Hawks were ultimately unable to make the comeback before the final buzzer.

 

 

 

The players all seemed to leave happy, however.

Gretzky not only skated with kids on the side rink, he also made wishes come true for his peers. He gave Troy Murray his stick after the game.

“I never got a picture, never got an autograph before–until today,” Murray told the press. “I’ll certainly treasure that.”

Gretzky also spoke about the benefits to outdoor hockey games, a concept some have scoffed as overdone:

I would say most of the guys who played today kind of grew up in that era where we grew up in outdoor rinks and ponds and frozen lakes and backyards. You know, guys like Adam Burish and Brett Hull and myself and Tkachuk, that’s how we started playing the game of hockey. We weren’t thrown into beautiful, warm, artificial-ice arenas when we were kids; we were thrown out to the 30-below-zero and wearing a toque and a scarf and freezing our hands numb and our feet numb when we came in.

That’s what’s wonderful and makes the game great. And each and every person to a tee was the exact way. We all love it.

It’s changed in the sense that it’s become not just a winter sport. One of the proudest days I had as a professional player was being part of an outdoor game in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium to see 60-degree weather and people there enjoying the game–and 60,000 people at a game like that just shows you how far the game has come.

So, we’re an all-weather sport. We can play when it’s warm. We can play when it’s cold. But, obviously, we grew up playing on those outdoor rinks.

St. Louis provided a great backdrop for the event, with a packed house at Busch Stadium, rivalry fans from the same region in one large backdrop and impressive rosters on the ice.

“It was bigger and better and more exciting than I could ever come close to imagining,” Brett Hull told media. “It just shows you what great sports fans the St. Louis area has.”

So, the game against the Blackhawks and how both teams now are–obviously Chicago has won the Cups and they have such a great corps of players. Well, the Blues the last five years have been as good as anybody, haven’t quite gotten over the hump to win that cup. But there’s two really good teams in the NHL and they always have good battles.

So, this one’s going to be even more exciting with the outdoor and hopefully the weather will cooperate. And, I mean, could you ask for anything luckier than our day for us today? I mean, it was perfect.

 

 

The combination of different generations of hockey players and two strong fan bases provided a thrilling afernoon for just about everyone.

“This is one of the coolest hockey experiences I’ve had, and I’ve played an outdoor game before,” Adam Burish told media. “That was the fastest pickup game that I’ve ever played in, by far. Pierre Turgeon was awesome out there.”

Carcillo, who is coaching Team Illinois 15U with Eager, and running The Chapter 5 Foundation to help former NHL players, was excited to play this game in front of his toddler, Austin, and alongside a stack of Hall of Famers.

 

 


The Blues took the game 8-7, but everyone seemed to leave a winner. And now, thousands are anticipating seeing the current rosters hit the ice for the Winter Classic on Monday.

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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