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From blizzards to bats: six games played in ridiculous weather


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, February 1, 2015, 9:58 AM -

Sports nuts, forecasters, and sport-nut forecasters have all been nervously eyeing the forecast for the Super Bowl this weekend.

This Sunday, frigid temperatures dominate Canada, with a major winter storm set to affect the east of the country after thrashing parts of the U.S.

As for the game itself, well, the players are sitting pretty in Arizona, untouched by the kind of insane weather that has plagued past games.

We had a hunt around, and here is a totally-not-exhaustive list of six games, in various sports leagues, that didn't stop even for ridiculous weather.

The Mud Bowl: Toronto vs. Winnipeg, 1950

There are plenty of games in a variety of sports leagues worldwide that claim to have some kind of “mud bowl,” but for Canadians, that richly-deserved title belongs to the 38th Grey Cup final between the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

A November snowfall set that game on the path to history. When shovelling proved inadequate, organizers took a bulldozer to Toronto’s Varsity Field field. It got rid of the snow, all right, but it also stripped away the grass.

The result:

Playing in that much can’t have been fun (according to legend, one of the Blue Bombers nearly drowned), and the result was a catastrophic rout for Winnipeg. The Argos crushed it with a final score of 13-0 – but game organizers took some well-deserved flak for allowing the conditions to reach that level of messiness.

Still, it’s earned its place in history, and in 2012, the mucky match-up was recreated as part of the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup, complete with classic jerseys and old leather hats:

Amazing how much fun it is when there’s not a Grey Cup title at stake, eh?

Ice bowl: Dallas vs. Green Bay, 1967

The 1967 matchup between Green Bay and the Dallas Cowboys was officially the NFL Championship Game, but it’s rightly known to history by the VASTLY more accurate “Ice Bowl.”

The weather was already not exactly favourable, with several cold weather records being broken even before the sun rose on Dec. 31, 1967. When you watch the video above, keep in mind that all those fans, cheerleaders and players are doing their thing in -25C, feeling like -43 with the wind chill.

Doing ANYTHING outside in those temperatures is like double-dog DARING the winter gods to give you frostbite. Which is what happened to many of the players’ hands and toes.

It wasn’t just them. Refs had to yell out their calls after a metal whistle froze to one of the refs’ lips. Same thing happened to one of the trumpeters in the band. And making it worse, Lambeau Field’s turf-warming mechanism malfunctioned, so players had to face all of this on a rock-hard field.

You’d think the team that was FROM that particularly frigid part of the United States would have run away with the game, but surprisingly, it took an epic late-game play for the Packers to finally clinch the game over Dallas.

That, and the ridiculous conditions, earns this game a regular spot on lists of the best NFL games of all time.

The Fog Game: Philadelphia Vs. Buffalo, 1975

This weird Stanley Cup playoff game is the reason we at The Weather Network don’t laugh at sports fans for being superstitious.

The Buffalo Sabres went into Game 3 against the Philadelphia flyers trailing by two, desperately needing a win.

There was already something weird going on, in the form of a bat – as in, the actual flying mammal – flying around the stadium for much of the game. Finally, Sabres centre Jim Lorentz killed the rodent with his stick:

Shouldn’t have done that. Should NOT have done that. Because not long after, as if Dracula himself was angered at this treatment of his children of the night, a dense fog swept the stadium.

As it happens, Buffalo seemed to be fine with the fog – a product of an unusually humid May. Although it rendered the puck all but invisible to both players and fans, the Sabres still managed to win in overtime.

But even though they went on to take Game 4, Philadelphia rallied to close the series 4-2. 

If that bat was a curse, though, it wasn’t just on Buffalo. The Sabres, who made their playoffs debut that same year, have never won the Stanley Cup to this day – and that was the last time Philadelphia ever did.

Stupid bat.

NEXT PAGE: Snowfall makes for an epic Winter Classic

2008 Winter classic: Pittsburgh vs Buffalo

With temperatures just about at the zero mark, we doubt anyone was really surprised when thick, fat flakes began to fall on the 2008 Winter Classic game on New Year’s Day in Orchard Park, New York.

The Pittsburgh Penguins faced off against the Buffalo Sabres on snow-covered ice that didn’t exactly make for the most elegant hockey in history.

Organizers had to bring out the Zamboni in each of the three periods, and play had to be stopped for ice repairs quite often.

The game itself saw regular time end in a 1-1 draw, forcing an climactic overtime shootout even as the snow was still coming down, with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby knocking in the last goal to win the shootout for Pittsburgh 2-1.

It was enough for the fans – all 71,000 of them who showed up, breaking the then-record for attendance at an NHL game.

2011 Heritage Classic: Calgary vs. Montreal

This being Canada, we doubt anyone seriously doubted the 2011 NHL Heritage Classic was in any danger of being cancelled due to the terrifyingly cold temperatures in the lead-up.

Still, the unexpectedly cold caused more than a few headaches for organizers prepping the rink. At one point, it was so cold, cracks were detected in the ice, due to brittleness caused by overnight lows down to -25C.

On game day, the temperatures were a little more reasonable, but gradually plunged to -9C as the evening wore in, with stiff winds making it feel almost as cold as -20.

Didn’t stop the 40,000 fans from showing up to watch the Calgary Flames take on the Montreal Canadiens at home-turf McMahon stadium, but the players can’t have been too happy.

Players huddled by the heaters, donned extra layers and ear muffs to cope with the icy winds, and slapped on some eye-black to lessen the setting sun’s glare on the ice, while the fans kept warm however they could.

Officials couldn’t even bring out ice-cleaning machines, fearing they would be too heavy for the brittle ice, opting instead to hand-spray the surface and use shovels instead.

In the end, Calgary routed Montreal 4-0, in what Flames fans, at least, reckon was a darn good Heritage Classic.

2013 SnowClasico: U.S.A. vs. Costa Rica

All the training in the world wouldn’t have prepared Costa Rica’s finest for the conditions waiting them when they met the USA on March 22, 2013, for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Colorado.

The teams clashed on a pitch that rapidly became snow-covered during a storm that dumped as much as two inches.

Field workers shoveled out the lines, and plowed the pitch at half time, but Costa Rica demanded the match be called off due to the appalling conditions. Officials refused, and the United States squeaked in a 1-0 win.

Costa Rica was furious and appealed the result. The appeal was denied, and the resentment over that resulted in, ah, quite the ordeal for the U.S. team when they went to Costa Rica for another qualifier in September.

The whole thing was a gauntlet. The team bus was egged, they had trouble finding a practice venue, authorities pointedly declined to help them in the most basic ways, like providing soccer balls to practice with.

It must have felt like some kind of vindication for Costa Rica when they finally met the U.S. team again, winning 3-1 and ending the visitors’ 12-game winning streak.

In the end, both teams qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and made it to the finals. The United States lost to Belgium in the Round of 16, while Costa Rica fell to the Dutch in the quarter finals.

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