The 2016 NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens is in the books with the Canadiens taking a 5-1 victory home to Canada, however, it was only fitting that a game that was played in the home stadium of the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts would see five New England natives take part in the mid-winter event.
Boston Bruins Forwards Jimmy Hayes (Boston) and Frank Vatrano (East Longmeadow) are Massachusetts natives, as are Canadiens goaltender Mike Condon (Holliston) and forward Brian Flynn (Lynnfield). Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty hails from New Canaan, Connecticut.
Pacioretty was instrumental in the Canadiens win, scoring one goal and one assist and Flynn assisted on Paul Byron’s game-winning goal, but it was Condon, playing in place of the injured Carey Price, who stole the show and was the brightest star under a darkened sky when the game came to its end.
Condon stopped 27 of 28 Bruins shots, including a spectacular glove save on Boston’s Ryan Spooner with seconds remaining in the second period, leading Montreal to the win.
“Yeah, 3-0, (if) they get a goal there at the end of the second, they had the momentum so, yeah, and I guess it made a big deal.” Condon said after the game when asked about the save on Spooner’s shot.
Every day, we see professional athletes’ skills and abilities on display and they are able to exhibit them because they have the innate ability to block out all of the hype of the big games, that is something Condon needed to do on New Year’s Day and he did it well until after the game.
“I was just trying to keep my head on the ice the whole time, but when the final buzzer rang I looked around, just tried to take as many mental photos as I could and just to try to remember this feeling and it’s certainly a special one,” the goaltender said.
Obviously, after the game, his teammates were eager to talk about Condon and his performance in an upbeat Canadiens dressing room.
Canadiens defenseman PK Subban had lofty praise for his netminder.
“He was our best player today, period,” said Subban. “There is no question about it. When you look at the success we have had over the last month and a half, when he is our best player, we win. He was great today and he gave us an opportunity to win the game and he was sharp.”
Pacioretty agreed with Subban and noted how important that save on Spooner was to their team.
“(Condon was) top player of the game in my eyes,” Pacioretty said. “He made a lot of really big saves early on, and I think that big glove save (on Spooner) really got the boys going. You know, it’s really impressive, the pressure that he’s had on his shoulders, and at this stage to step up and play that way really says a lot about his character.”
For Mike Condon, who grew up only 20 minutes from Gillette Stadium, to come away from the Winter Classic with the win and the praise of his teammates, it was a day he will, most assuredly, always remember.
“Probably the most special,” Condon said when asked how special the game was for him. “Had a lot of friends and family here tonight. And yeah, Bruins, Habs, Gillette Stadium, New Year’s Day, I don’t think you could script it any better.”
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.