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Brutal conditions overshadow classic USA-Canada WJC game

Snow was the biggest takeaway from the Canada-USA round-robin matchup at the World Junior Championships (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

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 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.

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:

For better or worse, chalk it up as another memorable classic between the two neighbouring hockey powerhouses at the World Juniors.