BUFFALO, N.Y. - As the NHL's ice plant truck wheeled into Buffalo, Jason Pominville and Martin Biron described some of their favorite memories relating to the Winter Classic.
"Seeing the tailgates going on -- that was a pretty cool feeling," says Pominville, the only active Sabre to play in the 2008 Winter Classic. "Walking out of the tunnel, fireworks, choppers, national anthem. Just looking around it was a pretty amazing feeling."
Biron, a 16-year NHL veteran, served as backup for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist during the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia.
"Usually the first reaction when [the puck] goes in the corner is to look at the jumbotron to see what's happening," he remembers. "I looked up and saw a full moon right in the sky. Those things add to how special playing outside is."
Biron has one minor complaint about playing outside -- you have to wear more layers, which can get in the way of goalie equipment.
"Your shin pads don't feel the same, and for goaltenders it's completely different. Your equipment always feels the same way, and it has to fit a certain way for you to feel like you're blocking every spot in net," he says.
Pominville and Biron both enjoy the pageantry of the Winter Classic; delays can happen during the outdoor games, but it gives players more time to enjoy the environment.
"You're really able to sink everything in. Look around and see how amazing the turnout was and how many people were there," says Pominville.
"We were delayed 2-3 hours because of the sun? No big deal," says Biron. "We'll just hang out at the rink a little longer. Have more fun."
The Sabres play the Rangers in this year's Winter Classic on January 1, 2018 at Citi Field.