Tom Kostopoulos has appeared in 630 National Hockey League contests during his long and vaunted career, and 629 of those took place in friendly, climate-controlled structures.

But on February 20, 2011, TK and his Calgary Flames teammates hit the ice outdoors in what may be the coldest game ever played.

The 2011 Heritage Classic took place at McMahon Stadium in Calgary between the Flames and Montreal Canadiens.  More than 40,000 fans packed into the venue, despite sub-zero temperates.

There was some fear leading up to the game that the contest would have to be delayed or even canceled because of the weather.

“They kept changing the cut off, the degrees,” recalled Kostopoulos.  “A week before I think was at minus-8 we weren’t going to play.  Then two days before they said minus-10 we won’t play.  That’s degrees celsius.

“And we played at minus-12.  It was freezing, except for the benches.  The benches were heated.”

The wind chill brought the temperature down to -25 celsius, and one of Kostopoulos’ teammates had a unique way to stay warm during play.

“Our goalie, Miikka Kiprusoff, wore a full scuba diving suit underneath his equipment,” recalled TK, who mentioned that many of his friends who visited for the game cam unprepared for the frigid temps.

But the weather didn’t cool the enthusiasm of the those who too part in the game, or who were there to experience the spectacle from he stands.

“It was just cool to see the amount of people in the building, and then the roar when we did something well or scored,” said Kostopoulos. “When you’re used to playing in front of 10 to 12,000 people, 60,000 is a lot different.  So it was pretty amazing, just taking it all in.”


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ influence continues to be felt by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 4-1, on Wednesday night.

Eight players who have previously suited up for the AHL Penguins were in the lineup for Pittsburgh last night, with five of the seven skaters picking up points, and the eighth player – Matt Murray – securing the win in goal.

Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson both picked up assists for the Pittsburgh, while Olli Maatta (who played briefly with Wilkes-Barre in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs) netted his first goal of the season.

But the highlight for NEPA fans may have been seeing Cameron Gaunce ripping a shot that Jake Guentzel redirected home for his fourth goal with Pittsburgh.  The assist from Gaunce, who was appearing in his first game with the NHL Penguins, was his first ever NHL helper.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ next home game is Saturday, January 21, when they host the Hershey Bears at 7:05pm. Fewer than 600 tickets remain for Saturday night’s contest against the Bears.

Individual game tickets for Saturday’s game and all Penguins home games, are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including 22-game12-game, and 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.