The eyes of the ice hockey world will be on Texas on New Years’ Day as the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators go head-to-head in the 2020 Winter Classic.
The event marks the first regular season outdoor game for both teams and will be the perfect way to kick-off the year.
The iconic Cotton Bowl Stadium has been chosen to host a game that has become an integral part of the National Hockey League (NHL) schedule.
The Stars have had a positive season in the Central Division thus far and are firmly in the running to secure a spot in the play-offs.
They will have a new face behind the bench for the Classic after the shock dismissal of head coach Jim Montgomery during December.
Stars’ officials confirmed that he was fired for acting inconsistently with the “core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League”.
Rick Bowness has been named as interim coach for the rest of the season and he will be eager to prove he should get the job on a permanent basis.
While the Stars look a good bet to qualify for the post-season, the Predators have an almighty battle on their hands to join them.
The Predators failed to cash in on a schedule that gave them 18 of their first 30 matches on home ice and they have given themselves a difficult task for the rest of the campaign.
Dallas have historically had the edge over Nashville during regular season matches, picking up 96 points from their previous 84 meetings.
By contrast, the Predators collected have collected 82 points and were beaten by the Stars in their play-off series last season.
The two teams will get the opportunity to test each other out ahead of the Classic when they meet in Nashville on December 14.
However, that game is unlikely to have any bearing on the outcome of the Classic which is very much a unique occasion.
The Winter Classic is the climax of a packed schedule over the festive period that will have tested the fitness of players across the league.
Both the Stars and Predators face some difficult looking matches in the run-up to the game and will be keen to be in good form when it comes around.
With ‘home’ advantage the Stars are fancied to come out on top, but the Predators are unlikely to go down without a big fight.