U.S. women’s Olympic team will be named; eight pond hockey rinks part of outdoor game
NEW YORK — Minnesota’s exalted status as the ‘State of Hockey’ will be the centerpiece of the revelry surrounding the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic®, the sold-out New Year’s Day outdoor matchup between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues at Target Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins. The January 1 primetime game will also feature the unveiling of the final 2022 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, special appearances by current and former Minnesota sports stars, a musical performance by country music superstar Thomas Rhett, and a showcase of Minnesota hockey on frozen ponds. The event will be televised nationally on TNT in the U.S. and on Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports in Canada at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT.
Inspired by Minnesota’s lakes, forests and longstanding history of hockey outdoors, the NHL will transform Target Field into “Lake Winter Classic” for the event, featuring frozen pond hockey rinks, a log cabin, Minnesota pine trees, ice fishing holes, lumberjacks and a makeshift dock that will serve as the entertainment stage. And to celebrate the “State of Hockey’s” renowned pond hockey tournaments, the eight frozen pond hockey rinks located in the outfield – the most ever at an NHL outdoor game – will feature more than 100 hockey players, ages 5- to 50-years old, showcasing their skills and talent. Players include boys and girls, men and women, LGBTQ+ players, and former military members, representing hockey programs located all over the state of Minnesota.
Minnesota’s distinction as the “State of Hockey” resonates in the NHL, as it has produced more players drafted (637), more players appearing in a regular-season or playoff game (283) and more Stanley Cup champions (29) than any other state. And among current U.S.-born NHL players, 44 were born in Minnesota, more than any other U.S. state.
The NHL will open the day’s festivities with a land acknowledgement led by members of the Native Arts Collaborative Agency and Native Pride Production, in collaboration with Native American artists to create visibility and opportunity worldwide and in tribute to the original inhabitants of the land.
The formal pregame ceremony will begin with the on-field arrivals of the Wild and the Blues. Singers of This Age (SOTA), a dynamic and diverse group of Twin Cities high school students featuring spoken word and choral music and part of VocalEssence – a Minneapolis-based choral group synonymous with excellence in choral performance – will perform the U.S. national anthem, accompanied by an American Sign Language (ASL) performer. The Color Guard will be comprised of members of the Army, Air Force and Navy.
In keeping with the Twins’ home game tradition, the flag raising presented by Navy Federal Credit Union will be led by retired Staff Sergeant John Kriesel, immediately followed by ceremonial puck drops featuring Minnesota sports stars, past and present.
The first intermission presented by Ticketmaster will feature a performance by country music superstar Thomas Rhett. The multi-platinum recording artist and arena-packing superstar’s performance from the specially designed “State of Hockey” stage will be televised.
During the second intermission, the final 23-player roster of the 2022 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team will be revealed. The entire team will be in attendance for the NHL Winter Classic for the on-field salute before they embark on their quest for a third gold medal in Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, Feb. 3-20, in Beijing, China.
The 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic® will mark the second time the Wild will play in an NHL regular-season outdoor game. It also marks the second time the NHL has brought a regular-season outdoor game to The State of Hockey following the 2016 NHL Stadium Series™ between the Chicago Blackhawks and the hometown Wild, who won the game 6-1 at TCF Bank Field (now Huntington Bank Stadium). The game is also the second regular-season outdoor contest for the Blues, who defeated the Blackhawks 4-1 in the 2017 NHL Winter Classic® at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic® will be the 13th NHL Winter Classic®, the 33rd NHL regular-season outdoor game, and the first of three NHL regular-season outdoor games scheduled for the 2021-22 season. For a complete history of NHL regular-season outdoor games, click here.
TNT is airing episodes of “Road to the NHL Winter Classic” – a five-part docuseries featuring exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the Blues and Wild as they prepare for the Jan. 1 outdoor game – during the network’s postgame coverage throughout December. Watch episodes one, two and three.