PITTSBURGH -- For Flyers coach Dave Hakstol and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, tonight’s Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Penguins brings back memories.
Hakstol coached North Dakota in an outdoor hockey in college, while Gostisbehere participated in one as a freshman at Union College.
For Hakstol, however, this whole idea of outdoor hockey began when he was growing up in central Alberta in the small town of Drayton Valley.
“I think everybody’s got great memories of growing up outdoors,” Hakstol said. “We had a back creek that we could shovel off. I’m sure everybody could sit back and tell you stories of playing on the outdoor rinks.
“For me, most recently, I’ve got two kids growing up playing on outdoor rinks, backyard rinks. It’s pretty cool. It takes you right back to the heart of the game.”
Hakstol’s outdoor coaching experience came during a game between Nebraska-Omaha and his North Dakota squad in 2013 at the “Mutual of Omaha Battles on Ice.”
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Hakstol said of the event. “It’s just a different feel. It’s an ideal scenario.”
He said while tonight's game is special, it’s still about the points, first and foremost.
“You are cognizant of everything that surrounds the event and the game,” Hakstol said. “Yet for us, it’s two points. We’re fighting for every point here. That is going to paramount.”
Gostisbehere played at Fenway Park in 2012 for Union in a game against Harvard. That night, Union won, 2-0, to become the first ECAC club to ever win outdoors.
“I played at Fenway Park against Harvard and it was fun,” Gostisbehere said. “That was my freshman year and the only one I ever played in.
“Good crowd. It wasn’t packed obviously, but it was a night game. The ice was really good. It was really cold, too. It was pretty cool.”
As warm as it was Friday here -- a historic 78 degrees -- temperatures will begin in the 40s tonight at Heinz Field and then drop. It rained this morning but has since ceased.
“The biggest thing for me was to take a second, look around,” Gostisbehere said, admitting he failed to do that in college and won’t make that mistake again.
“Just cherish it a little bit. You are so focused on the game, it’s tough. That was biggest thing for me. It was such a blur. Just being in college and having the opportunity to play at Fenway Park was pretty awesome.”
This will the Flyers first-ever outdoor affair in Pittsburgh.
“It’s pretty exciting and I’m glad to be part of it,” Gostisbehere said.