Ho, Ho, Hockey And The Holidays

NHLers Recount Their Most Fond Memories Over The Holiday Season

The holiday season can often incur a feeling of getting the hockey juices flowing. Between the temperature flirting with pond hockey season in most places, if not already there, the World Juniors and Winter Classic, the game is often synonymous with the holidays.


There’re holiday tournaments, the thought of getting a new stick, gloves, or skates as a present to get a player giddy, maybe a new video game or hockey trading cards.


We caught up with a handful of NHLers to hear about what hockey-related memories they’re most fond of from their childhoods around the holiday season.


Happy Holidays to all, from USA Hockey Magazine. Excited to continue to give you more content, from World Juniors, the Women’ U-18 World Championship and more into the New Year. Enjoy!


Chicago Blackhawks


Collin Delia, Goaltender, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

“Probably watching the Winter Classics around this time period. Watching Chicago or Pittsburgh, the first couple of Winter Classics were always pretty special. It was something you looked forward to.”


Pending Corey Crawford’s injury status, Collin will have a chance to back up Cam Ward in the 2019 Winter Classic, when the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins on Jan. 1, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. The first Winter Classic took place Jan. 1, 2008 between Pittsburgh and the hosting Buffalo Sabres.


Patrick Kane, Forward, Buffalo, N.Y.

“I remember I would get a few jerseys every Christmas. My dad had a buddy that would get him jerseys and every Christmas I would get two or three jerseys. I would always get the captain of that team, whatever team jersey it was. I would get that number on the back. Like if it was Colorado, I would get #19, like Sakic, but instead of Sakic it would be Kane on the back. That was always pretty cool.”


Connor Murphy, Defenseman, Dublin, Ohio

“Probably World Juniors. That’s not that young, it was U20. We played in Russia. It was probably, not the least fun place to be for Christmas. It was dark out until like 2pm. That’s probably my biggest memory.”


Connor played in the 2013 World Juniors in Ufa, Russia. The U.S. went 5-0-0-2 (W/OTW/OTL/L) en route to a gold medal. The U.S. beat Sweden, 3-1, in the gold-medal contest.


“Other than that, when I was younger I went up to my grandparents farm and was able to play outside, it was snowing and we were playing on the ponds.”


Colorado Avalanche


Ian Cole, Defenseman, Ann Arbor, Mich.

“When I was a kid, we would always have a Christmas Eve skate in the morning. So, growing up we would have all my teammates, we would have an awesome time skating with all the guys I played with and grew up playing with. I think we started when I was 10 or 12. Even the past three years, I would go. We’d play on the 23rd in Pittsburgh and I would drive home that night right after the game to Michigan, the two and a half hours to make sure I got home for that Christmas Eve skate in the morning with all my buddies. It’s something that they still do even when I’m not there, they’re going to do it this Christmas Eve [Ian is staying in Denver]. It’s something that I think a lot of us look forward to every year.”


JT Compher, Forward, Northbrook, Ill.

“I grew up in Chicago and around winter time we had a few backyard rinks amongst my friends in the area that we’d be out on all through the night. We used to freeze the water at the library by my house. There were plenty of outdoor spots to go play hockey, especially around Christmas time.”


Sheldon Dries, Macomb Township, Wis.

“It would have to be Christmas tournaments in the Detroit area mainly. It was always a good time. No school during that time for sure, so you didn’t have to worry about going back to school on Monday. There was always a Christmas tournament, so it was a fun time with the guys, that’s for sure.”


Erik Johnson, Defenseman, Bloomington, Minn.

“We always played outside [in Minnesota]. We always played outdoor hockey no matter when it was.


“Either I go to Minnesota or people come here. Nothing really that’s super exciting, just hang out with the family and do all the Christmas stuff. That’s pretty much it.”


Matt Nieto, Forward, Long Beach, Calif.

“I remember I would be psyched if I got a new stick for Christmas. As a kid you love getting those kinds of gifts.”


New York Rangers


Boo Nieves, Forward, Syracuse, N.Y.

“Definitely going home and skating on the backyard rink. I grew up with Alex Tuch, so just going on his backyard rink and always skating until we couldn’t feel our feet anymore. Things like that are definitely really memorable.”

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