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Friends Belichick, Julien get to work out of the same building

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Bill Belichick on ice (0:18)

Patriots coach Bill Belichick tries out his hockey skills at Gillette Stadium ahead of the NHL Winter Classic. (0:18)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Early Thursday morning, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick took a twirl on the ice at Gillette Stadium.

His team was preparing for practice before traveling to Florida to face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, but he couldn't contain the urge to strap on his skates to test the Winter Classic ice. The legendary coach has been a Bruins fan during his tenure in Boston and it's not unusual to see him at a Bruins game, especially in the playoffs, at TD Garden.

He and Bruins coach Claude Julien have become close friends over the years and the two have spent plenty of time together over the last few days. Belichick even visited the Bruins' locker room after the team's practice at Gillette Stadium on Thursday.

"I love Claude," Belichick told reporters Thursday, while sporting a Bruins Winter Classic hat. "He’s a great guy. I think we probably have a lot in common just in the way we coach and look at the game and look at the team and things like that. I don't know anything about hockey, but it's a pretty simple game -- put the puck in the net. No, I love Claude and the job that he's done."

Julien has been a Patriots fans since he was a kid, so having a strong connection with Belichick and the Patriots is something special for the Stanley Cup-winning coach.

"It’s always great to catch up with Bill," Julien told reporters. "I was fortunate enough to be a guest of his yesterday at his practice, and we walked through it, and it was nice to see him work with his team. I’ve admired him for a long time for how he handles his team, how he coaches, how prepared he is. We play different sports, but as coaches, I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from each other and admire from each other. That’s the one think I have learned from Bill is his preparation is second to none."

Now, on to the Winter Classic.