The NHL started an annual tradition back on January 1, 2008 when they played their first outdoor game in the United States. The Pittsburgh Penguins played the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. It was an overwhelming success. They called it the Winter Classic. The NHL had played a similar game back in November 2003 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada which they referred to as the Heritage Classic.
As time has gone on, the Winter Classic as become a mainstay on New Year's Day here in the States. As for the Heritage Classic, the NHL had another one in Calgary in February 2011 which the King & I attended.
With that being said, the NHL decided to expand its plans to having more games outdoors this season. As a result, the Stadium Series was born. The league decided to have games in the three largest markets in the States. New York, Chicago & Los Angeles. They also added another game in Vancouver which is part of the Heritage Classic series.
As for the Stadium Series, the King & I got to go to both of the games they decided to play at Yankee Stadium. The New York Rangers wound up being the visiting team in both games. That way they didn't lose any home games at the Transformed Madison Square Garden. In other words, it was a financial issue. They played against their local rivals, the New Jersey Devils & the New York Islanders.
|National Anthem from our seats in section 420B row 5|
The first game was on Sunday afternoon, January 26th. Despite the brutal winter we've experienced here in NYC, the game was played. It was delayed an hour at the start due to sun glare on the ice. The game time temperature was a balmy 24 degrees of which an announced crowd of 50,105 people braved the elements to be a part of history. Besides the King & I, a number of people we know we're there as well including Greg Venuto & his pal Paul Bosler who I arranged to get tickets for. They couldn't thank me enough for helping them out. I was more than happy to do so because that's who I am. If I can make a difference, I will.
As for the game we saw, the Devils scored the game's first goal to take a 1-0 lead. They went up 3-1 late in the first period. The Rangers added a late goal to make it 3-2. In the second period, the Rangers scored four unanswered goals to take a 6-3 lead. They added one more in the third period thanks to Derek Stepan who scored on a penalty shot midway through the period to round out the scoring as the Rangers beat the Devils, 7-3 in front of a mixed crowd of hockey fans. Since the Ranger season ticket holders were forced to buy tickets to both games, there were slightly more Ranger fans at both games.
Wednesday night January 29th the King & I decided to do it again. I met the King there after work. We dressed for the occasion & we survived without a problem despite a game time temperature of 22 degrees. I wound up meeting my pal Eddie Pelle who went to the game too. We had dinner together at the New Sunflower, a Chinese restaurant a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. When I got up to my seat with the King in section 424 row 2 we had an empty seat which was filled by our other buddy Andrew Van Cleve who came up from Philadelphia to see the game.
|View from section 424 row 2|
Stay tuned as I plan to do the rest of my w/o 1/27 in review when time allows me too.
Thank you for reading & following along.