PHILADELPHIA -- The 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game is here, and just about everything about it is a little bizarre. It's about 50 degrees at 3 p.m. in Philadelphia, and while the ice was covered until warmups.
It feels like Opening Day for the Phillies... minus the whole ice rink on the field and orange, not red, in the stands thing. The teams aren't decked out in the jerseys that'll be worn in the Winter Classic come Monday afternoon. Instead, they're wearing the everyday jerseys for their team.
The game is certainly slower than the average NHL game, as you'd expect. Guys like Jeremy Roenick and Mark Recchi are on the ice and still in or close to NHL shape, but the rosters are mainly filled out by men who haven't played competitive hockey in a very long time.
Like Bernie Parent, for example. The legendary Flyers goaltender only played about five minutes in the first period, but after being serenaded with Bernie! Bernie! chants during introductions, he made three saves in those five minutes to pitch a shutout. One stop on a Ron Duguay breakaway looked a whole lot less than smooth, but it's Bernie Parent making a save on a breakaway. In the year 2011. On an ice rink built on a baseball diamond.
When Parent left the ice, the orange-clad crowd shouted more chants, and he stepped off the bench for a curtain call. It's probably the last time Parent will play hockey in an orange Flyers sweater, but it was five minutes that Flyers fans wil never forget.