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Fans flock to NHL Fan Village before Seattle Kraken face Vegas in Winter Classic

SEATTLE — Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood will again be teeming with Seattle and Las Vegas fans counting down until the NHL Winter Classic.

The NHL Fan Village opened at the Lumen Field north lot on Sunday and was packed with people trying all the activities. It will also be open Monday until the game begins at noon.

It’s stocked with a number of places to practice your slapshot or play giant air hockey. Kraken left wing Brandon Tanev posed for pictures and so did Lord Stanley.

KIRO 7 caught up with one fan waiting in Tanev’s line who says meeting Turbo made her day, and seeing Seattle in the Winter Classic is the perfect way to kick off 2024.

“It’s just so exciting. If you would have told me 4 years ago, ‘Oh, we’re going to have an NHL team and even a Winter Classic in Seattle, I’d be like, ‘No, you’re kidding, there’s no way,’” said Sasha Coughran, a self admitted diehard Kraken fan.

Another person was shaking off the rust from his wrist-shot.

“I haven’t done that for like 50 years. Everything seems so much lighter than it used to be. The sticks are like a quarter of the weight and just everything is different.”

Inside, T-Mobile Park is completely transformed, with the infield covered with ice. Kraken players got to see their New Year’s Day sheet for the first time Saturday. All couldn’t stop saying how special playing in a Winter Classic is, even the ones who’ve played in the outdoor game before.

Kraken center Matty Beniers says he’s seen baseball and football stadiums flipping into hockey rinks before, but for this Winter Classic, he’ll have different view than before.

“I’ve been to Winter Classics before. Back in Boston, the one at Fenway Park, I’ve been to Gillette. I’ve seen it from the stands, but walking out and seeing it and being a part of it is definitely really cool and you try to take that in, look around see as many things as you can, see the little details up close. It’s just really fun to be a part of this,” said Beniers.

Tye Kartye said playing in an outdoor game brings out the kid in him.

“It feels really cool when you’re a kid playing outside, just growing up, playing all afternoon, all day, playing outside. And making the NHL and having a game outside kind of brings you back to your roots a little bit,” said the Kraken left wing.

Goalie Chris Drieger showed how excited he was about his Winter Classic look.

“Just the old school clean lines, so I went back immediately when I saw the jerseys, I said, ‘Let’s do this but do it in Winter Classic Kraken style.’ Had a little fun with the colors. This is a unique stitching, the lettering. They put in a couple touches with the anchor,” he explained.

Those pads will be in action at noon when the puck drops against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. It’s the first time both franchises will be in the exhibition game. It’s also the first time the Pacific Northwest, or even the Pacific Standard Time Zone, will host a Winter Classic.