Hockey players celebrate 5 years since NHL Winter Classic in Buffalo
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EAST AURORA, N.Y. -- In 2008, history was made in Western New York when Ralph Wilson Stadium played host to the first ever NHL Winter Classic. Five years later, the tradition continued in East Aurora, on the exact same rink.
"Each year we've been commemorating that historic event with our own version of the Winter Classic," said John Cimperman with the Aurora Ice Association.
Tuesday, 12 teams laced up their skates and hit the ice on the rink the Sabres and Penguins faced off against in front of 72,000+ fans. It's still an NHL attendance record.
The attendance record was supposed to be broken at this year's Winter Classic in Michigan, if it weren't for the NHL lockout.
With all NHL games this season canceled so far, the tournament is about all these hockey fans have.
"A lot of these guys need their hockey fix," Cimperman said laughing. "We're hoping this tournament gives that to them."
But while the players hit the ice, there are hopes that NHL players return soon and end the lockout.
Paul White said, "It's not a good thing for the sport. It's important that we get the sport back up and going. The last time there was a lockout it hurt the sport drastically."
But at least for now Buffalo holds the NHL attendance record.