Ducks blank Kings under California stars
Goalkeeper Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks makes a save against Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings during the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series at Dodger Stadium on January 25, 2014, in Los Angeles, California - by Kevork Djansezian
The unique sounds of ice hockey filled Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday as the National Hockey League held its first outdoor regular season game in California.
Instead of the snow-covered grounds that have been a part of the majority of the league's other outdoor contests, palm trees swayed in the breeze and beach volleyball players kicked up sand on the court next to the rink where the Anaheim Ducks shut out the Los Angeles Kings 3-0.
"You don't have many chances to play in front of 55,000 people in California outdoors when you can look up and see the stars," said Ducks forward Teemu Selanne. "I am going to remember this. It is going to be very high on my bucket list."
The temperature was about 16 degrees Celsius (60F) when the puck was dropped at 7:16pm. Several of the players, such as Ducks star Ryan Getzlaf, wore eye black because of the bright outdoor lights at the stadium.
But because of the warm evening air there was no need for goaltenders Jonas Hiller or Jonathan Quick to don toques atop their masks that were made fashionable by Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore in the NHL's first regular season outdoor game in chilly Edmonton, Canada in 2003.
This was the second outdoor game for Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. In 2011 his Washington Capitals played the Pittsburgh Penguins in a contest played in a downpour.
"The difference was the weather. This time it was great," Boudreau said. "The first time it was raining and the crowd was wet and I was standing there shivering."
In one of the most unusual sports scenarios, sandal-wearing California fans converged on sold-out 54,099-seat Dodger Stadium with its palm trees and mountain views for the second of six NHL outdoor contests in North America this season.
"The ice was surprisingly pretty good," said Ducks forward Matt Beleskey. "We tried to keep it simple and then in the third it got a little bouncy. But for an outdoor game with 80 degrees it was pretty good."
It took the NHL's crack ice-making team eight days to build the temporary rink. Ice guru Dan Craig said it would take them 48 hours to dismantle it.
Corey Perry scored the opening goal at 2:45 of the first when he poked a loose puck into an open net for the Ducks, who are 9-2 in their last 11 games.
Beleskey made it 2-0 just under six minutes later when a high pass from Nick Bonino hit his pants and deflected past Quick.
"I got a lucky one," Beleskey said.
Andrew Cogliano scored into an open net to cap the scoring for Anaheim.
"Everything around us was a show but there are no shortcuts in the game," said Selanne, who added one of his highlights this week was meeting the band KISS, who performed before the game and between periods.
"We tried to remind each other that this is not the all-star game. We still had a game to play."
Long-time Kings' fan Ray Barber said he hadn't been convinced that organizers would be able to pull off an ice hockey game in the California warmth.
"I was skeptical at first as to whether they could do it," said the 56-year-old from Brea, California. "Especially since we have had 80 degrees (F) temperatures the past week."
Barber has been going to Kings games for 28 years.
"This will show east coast fans that there is a huge hockey following in California," he said.
Dodger Stadium is the home of Los Angeles' Major League Baseball team. The club's legendary announcer Vin Scully was part of the festivities Saturday, welcoming the spectators before the University of Southern California marching band performed.
KISS and Los Angeles-based band Five for Fighting both performed. The NHL's all-time leading scorer Wayne Gretzky was also part of the extravaganza as he conducted the ceremonial opening faceoff.
"It is great that someone had the guts to put something so out of its element as ice hockey at Dodger Stadium," said KISS guitarist Paul Stanley.
Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda added: "I didn't believe they could have a hockey game here. The pope has been here, the Beatles played here and now a hockey game here. Who would ever believe it. It is history."