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The Winter Portal

A snow-covered park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during winter

Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar and temperate zones (winter does not occur in the tropical zone). It occurs after autumn and before spring in each year. Winter is caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. Different cultures define different dates as the start of winter, and some use a definition based on weather. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa. In many regions, winter is associated with snow and freezing temperatures. The moment of winter solstice is when the sun's elevation with respect to the North or South Pole is at its most negative value (that is, the sun is at its farthest below the horizon as measured from the pole). The day on which this occurs has the shortest day and the longest night, with a daylength increasing and nightlength decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates outside the polar regions differ from the date of the winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth's elliptical orbit (see earliest and latest sunrise and sunset).

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The AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic was a National Hockey League game played on January 1, 2008 at 1:27 p.m. ET, outdoors at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. It was the first regular-season outdoor professional ice hockey game to be played in the United States, and was sponsored by AMP Energy. It was the successor to the Heritage Classic, the NHL's first outdoor game, played in Edmonton, AB, CAN. Ralph Wilson Stadium is the home to the National Football League's Buffalo Bills, and because of this, the game is colloquially referred to as the "Ice Bowl." The game, which was played at a temporary ice rink built on the football field at Ralph Wilson Stadium, set an NHL attendance record of 71,217. The home team was the Buffalo Sabres, and they hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins won the game, 2-1 in a shootout, on a goal by captain Sidney Crosby. The Sabres held a Winter Classic "house party" at HSBC Arena during the game where another 11,000 fans saw the game shown live on the arena's video scoreboard with synched-up audio from the team's radio coverage. The Buffalo Sabres Alumni Hockey Team played a pre-game at the HSBC Arena as part of the house party festivities.

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Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.


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