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The Buffalo Sabers and Toronto Maple Leafs brace for extreme cold wind ahead of the Heritage Classic in Hamilton, Ont.

Buffalo Sabers coach Don Granato had a nutshell on the conditions after his team’s outdoor practice on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s Heritage Classic against the Toronto Maple Leafs:


The other thing Granato noticed?

“The wind.”

Those are the challenges Toronto and Buffalo prepare to face when the puck drops at 4 p.m. Sunday at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont.

The weather is expected to be much like it was on Saturday – temperatures around 10 degrees, wind gusts approaching 30 mph and a chance of snow. of snow, but Buffalo is prepared for that eventuality on Sunday.

“It’s a factor, there’s no doubt about it,” Granato said of the environmental elements. “If the wind is like today, there’s a dramatic difference in how you run. It’s interesting to see our guys slam the puck with a lot less [velocity]So it’s good to go out there today and have that one day acclimatization, because you have to acclimatize and test it.”

After all, weather uncertainty is an age-old tradition at these NHL events. Last year’s outdoor game in Lake Tahoe was delayed eight hours due to the sun, and January’s Winter Classic took place in “extreme cold” that reached minus six.

Buffalo guard Craig Anderson knows the best approach is to expect the unexpected. Sunday’s game will be his third career away game, and first since 2017. Anderson is happy to share what he’s learned with his teammates who wonder what awaits them.

“The ice is much colder than it normally is,” Anderson said. “It changes things. The flex on the stick is different. Guys are trying to figure out what they want to wear, whether it’s fully covered or open, open neck. Today is a day to figure out what you like and from there.

Toronto forward Mitch Marner pointed to the positive side of the unpredictable conditions that both teams have to deal with it together, much like they did in practice.

“It was just, holy shit, that’s cold. Everyone kept saying it,” Marner said. a little cold. I’m just trying to find ways to make it less cold, try new gear and things you’re not used to.

Teammate Auston Matthews, who leads the NHL with 44 goals, said the high winds reminded him of his return to Scottsdale, Ariz., but there won’t be desert heat waiting for Toronto on Sunday.

“It was hard [at practice] – wind, snow, you’re pretty cold,” Matthews said. “Weather should be a bit better tomorrow, less windy, but obviously things can change, so we just have to go with the flow.”

That’s especially true for goaltenders. While skaters stay warm during shifts, Anderson has to deal with long periods of inertia.

“You’re out there in the cold for most of it,” Anderson said. “I found out again today that you don’t sweat when it’s so cold there. So you go through all your shirts. [to decide what to wear] because even if you are somehow [sweating]it’s so cold you don’t really feel it.”

Granato just hopes his team will be ready for anything on Sunday, including the joy of playing in unique circumstances.

“I can’t project [weather] effects, but that’s the mystique of these games, it’s all the different elements that you don’t deal with on a regular basis,” Granato said. have consistency in temperature or wind. So I can’t tell you exactly how it goes, but it adds to the excitement of the game and certainly your preparation. I know our guys take this seriously, and we have to be prepared for what you think might happen.”


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