Joanne Norell | January 3, 2019
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For as familiar as the scene at Notre Dame Stadium was on the opening day of 2019, there was no mistaking the novelty of the occasion as the puck dropped on the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.
Tailgaters still peppered the parking lots pregame — though not in the numbers of the more at-home Irish faithful — but Blackhawks and Bruins flags replaced monograms and leprechaun banners. Hockey sweaters supplanted football jerseys, but the energy mimicked that felt on a typical fall Saturday.
Even the capacity crowd — the announced attendance of 76,126 was the second-largest crowd in NHL history — kept in line with the venue's streak of 268 consecutive football sellouts.
These bricks are used to this. Similar scenery, different game.
"Driving in, I couldn't tell the difference," said Notre Dame vice president and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick. "The extended parking lots, the tailgating, and when I came in the stadium it was much the same feel. It feels like a football Saturday at Notre Dame, and that's what we wanted, for the great elements of a football Saturday at Notre Dame to be carried over to this great NHL tradition."
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