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Sabres' staying loose as Winter Classic approaches

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Posted at 3:24 PM, Dec 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-31 15:24:32-05

Jack Eichel remembers watching the first Winter Classic featuring Jason Pominville and the Buffalo Sabres from his couch. On Sunday the two sat side by side, answering questions as teammates, as the tenth Winter Classic is upon us. 

Eichel, like so many of his teammates, remembers playing outside as a kid. But to play on this stage, at Citi Field, during the tenth anniversary, that’s a dream come true.

"Most kids I probably think dream of playing in this game," Eichel told reporters. "I'm just so excited that I'm able to be a part of it and just to share this moment and this entire experience with my family and the people that have been close to me. It's pretty special, it's been a great weekend." 

Pominville agreed, noting how big the game has become over the years. When it started in 2008 no one was sure if it would be successful or if there would ever be another outdoor game.

"The build-up has been phenomenal, the first one there was a lot of unknown," Pominville said. "Now, the whole build-up around it, from press conferences in the summertime, TV shows, everything around it has been pretty amazing for us to be a part of it again," 

As the Sabres prepared for Monday’s showcase they made sure to keep things light. In their first and only practice on the outdoor rink at Citi Field leading up to the game, there were plenty laughs as practice wrapped after just about 40 minutes. For the next hour players and coaches skated with their family and friends, a moment some players said will likely be one the highlights of the weekend.

"You know it's a special thing for the whole family, for all of our families," Robin Lehner said.

"Fortunately enough, my parents were able to come out and experience this with me along with some friends and other family," Evander Kane added. "Just to go out on the ice and skate with them, it's something my dad and I worked hard towards so for me it's great to be able to share that moment, especially with him."