Last updated: February 20. 2013 2:42AM - 207 Views

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Even though he grew up in sunny California, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins winger Beau Bennett does have some experience playing outdoors.


And it's not all that good.


I skated on a pond before and I remember not being able to breathe very well, he said. It's just tough.


As of Friday, the weather forecast for Sunday's Capital BlueCross AHL Outdoor Classic is 34 degrees at game time with wind gusts reaching 30 miles per hour.


It could get pretty chilly on the ice at Hersheypark Stadium and the Penguins have mixed feelings about playing in the cold.


Bennett hopes he can adjust during the pregame skate on Sunday morning – the first time the Penguins will set foot on the outdoor ice.


I'm probably going to be sick by the second period. I don't do well in the cold, he said. I'll try to get used to it by game time.


Although he grew up in Illinois, Jayson Megna has limited outdoor hockey experience – dating back to his high school days at the Tabor Academy in Massachusetts. Megna's team played against the school in New Hampshire held all its games on an outdoor rink.


So what does Megna remember about the outdoor experience?


It was freezing, he said.


But not all the Penguins are concerned about Sunday's conditions. To some, playing hockey outside in 30-degree temperatures is a walk in the park.


Defenseman Joe Morrow played plenty of pond hockey while growing up in Sherwood Park, Alberta. With no indoor ice rinks in his area, Morrow's only option to skate was to shovel off the nearest pond and hit the ice.


Temperature didn't matter.


There was really no line, you just grabbed an extra hat or more gloves, he said. It gets really cold – like minus-35 Celsius (minus-31 Fahrenheit). I played when your hands seize up and your toes freeze.


Morrow said he doesn't think any of his teammates will have a problem staying warm once the game starts and they keep moving.


But there is an exception – whoever is in net.


Head coach John Hynes said a starting goaltender won't be announced until today. If Brad Thiessen gets the call, he has a plan in place to stay warm.


I'm sure it's going to be colder for a goalie because you're standing in one spot, and if there's a stretch where the play stays at the other end you need to keep moving to keep the blood flowing, he said.


Maybe I'll change some clothes at intermission to make sure the sweat isn't freezing.


And there's one other step Thiessen will take.


I'll drink hot chocolate in between periods, he said.


Bennett's bigger concern is with the wind, which is expected to be gusty during the game.


Skating downwind will be great. It'll feel like you're flying, he said. But when you're skating into the wind it could get pretty loud and affect communication on the ice.


NOTES
ALUMNI GAME

   • The Penguins will practice this afternoon inside at the old Hershey Arena and will hold a pregame skate on the outdoor rink at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The Bears will practice on the outside ice today, but Hynes didn't feel like it gives his opponent an advantage.


   As long as we can get out there and see the ice beforehand, he said. We'll have a productive practice inside and then a pregame skate to get used to the elements.


   Unlike his players who will be moving, Hynes won't have that luxury as he braves the elements behind the bench. To keep warm, equipment manager Teddy Richards has ordered three-layer winter jackets for the coaches. Hynes will top off his attire with gloves and a wool hat.


   • Defenseman Brian Strait was claimed on waivers by the New York Islanders on Friday. Drafted by Pittsburgh in the third round in 2006, Strait spent more than three seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and appeared in 220 regular season games.


   • Bennett was the lone Penguin selected to Eastern Conference All-Star Team for the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic. The game will be played in Providence on Jan. 28. Bennett is tied for the team lead with 24 points.


   It's a tremendous honor, he said. It's also a chance to see some of my buddies I played with in Denver – Matt Donovan, Drew Shore and Jason Zucker.


   • Hynes said Warren Peters and Phil Dupuis are day-to-day and Benn Ferriero is ready to return for Sunday's game.


   • RW Keven Veilleux has been suspended 10 games by the ECHL and fined an undisclosed amount for directing racial comments toward an opponent.




• The Outdoor Classic weekend of events kicks off today in Hershey with an alumni game between former Penguins and Bears. Some familiar faces skating for the Penguins are Dennis Bonvie, Martin Sonnenberg, Greg Crozier, Jonathan Filewich, Casey Harris and Chris Kelleher. The game begins at 3 p.m. inside the HersheyPark Stadium.



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