Minneapolis NHL Winter Classic sets record for coldest game in league history

Temperatures were around minus-7 degrees when the puck dropped

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Brrr!!! Maybe playing hockey indoors isn't such a bad idea after all.

Target Field in Minneapolis set the record for the coldest game in NHL history when it hosted the league's annual Winter Classic on Saturday night.

The game between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues ended in a 6-4 win for St. Louis.

Temperatures when the puck dropped at 6:20 p.m. were around minus-7 degrees, with the wind chill estimated to be around minus-18 degrees, FOX 9 of Minneapolis reported.

By 8:30 p.m., temperatures at the stadium – which is normally used by MLB's Minnesota Twins for baseball in the spring and summer – were around minus-9 degrees. 

Previously, the coldest outdoor NHL game was played between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens in Edmonton, according to the league.

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Target Field on Saturday, January 1. (Credit: Fox 9 IDS Center webcam)

Target Field on Saturday, January 1. (Credit: Fox 9 IDS Center webcam)

Because of the cold weather, some 40,000 hand-warmers were available to be distributed at the game and concession stands offered soup, according to the NHL.

Even in sub-zero weather, the ice still has to be heated, according to the league. 

"Once we get too cold, we can have some issues with it being brittle or skate marks where it does chip away, so we really try to control that temperature," said Mike Craig, the NHL's senior manager of facilities operations.

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Fans outside Target Field on Jan. 1 before the NHL's Winter Classic. 

Fans outside Target Field on Jan. 1 before the NHL's Winter Classic.  (FOX 9 Minneapolis)

Since conditions were so cold, heat was transferred to the ice from a mobile refrigeration unit.

"When the air temperature is above the optimum ice temperature, the glycol and aluminum pans transfer heat away from the ice. But when the air temperature is below the optimum ice temperature, it transfers heat to the ice. The NHL has used a custom-made inline heater before to warm the glycol in the pipes on the way to the floor, but here it will use two inline heaters for the first time, one at the refrigeration truck and another in the outfield. The crew can calibrate the temperature to a half-degree," the NHL article noted.

Fans outside Target Field on Jan. 1 before the NHL's Winter Classic. 

Fans outside Target Field on Jan. 1 before the NHL's Winter Classic.  (FOX 9 Minneapolis)

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The NHL, however, didn't expect the cold weather to discourage fans from attending the game.

"We had a lot of people here in Minnesota who told us also how tough a Minnesota fan is, and that was certainly a factor in coming here," NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said.