An Anze Kopitar sweater and some shorts. That’s all I needed. It was my civic duty to wear shorts. How could you not? An outdoor hockey game at Dodger Stadium? 80-degree weather? Yea, I was wearing shorts.
Despite the fact that the Stadium Series game between the Ducks and Kings was a bit of a letdown, it was an incredibly unique experience and an event that I will be able to tell my future kids about attending.
If you weren’t one of the 54,000 in attendance let me take you back to some off the best moments from Saturday night at Chavez Ravine.
- Vin Scully. The Chairman of Los Angeles sports made his mark on the night before it even began. His beautiful introduction to Dodger Stadium and to outdoor hockey in California was classic Vin. But then, Vin showed up in person and did the game introductions with the fantastic Bob Miller. It was everything!!!! I have been to a ton of Dodger games in my lifetime and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a louder cheer for a single individual than I did on Saturday night for Vinny. The ovation was Goosebump worthy. I didn’t need any more from the night. Being in the Stadium for that ovation was worth my time. Everything else that happened on Saturday night was icing on the cake.
- Our seats were located in the Left Field Pavilion. While it wasn’t the greatest view in the world, it wasn’t horrible and the fans out in the Bleachers were the die-hard Kings and Ducks fans. Despite the fact that the Left Field Pavilion ran out of alcohol, much to our collective dismay, it was a lively bunch of “hockey idiots” and I thoroughly enjoyed the scene. It seemed liked most of the fans understood the importance of the matchup and its historical significance. Yes, I could have spent a bit more money to sit in the Lodge level behind the 3rd or 1st base bags; however, I assume that those sections were more family friendly. The Bleachers absolutely were not family friendly. Cursing, drinking and arguing were the norm in the Left Field Pavilion on Saturday night. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any different. These were true hockey fans. Despite the spectacle that was the Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium, the true hockey fans showed up in a big way. It was a delight to spend a night at the Ravine with these wonderful “idiots”.
- Stadium Series game doubled as my first KISS concert. While I’m not the biggest fan of watching old men in their 60’s scream into microphones and dress up as creepy clowns, KISS performed admirably and the crowd seemed to enjoy the show, at least during their first performance of the night. However, when they started to try and pimp their $99 dollar season tickets to the LA KISS, the arena football team based out of Honda Center, the crowd seemed to tune them out. I appreciated that also. No one wants to go see B-level Arena football in Anaheim. That business plan needs to be reviewed by the Better Business Bureau or something.
- When Vin Scully said, “It’s time for…….NHL hockey!” the crowd lost it’s collective mind. The master had delivered once again. We need to treasure Scully at every turn. He’s the master.
- There was one other moment that the crowd lost its mind. Wayne Gretzky’s entrance via the Palm Tree lined centerfield wall. While Gretzky only played for seven years in Los Angeles, he is thought of as the reason why hockey has survived, and thrived, in California. The Sharks, Ducks and Kings wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t for Gretzky’s influence on the Kings and the NHL as a whole. It felt as if both Ducks and Kings fans understood the significance of having Gretzky in the building. It was almost as if the Great One was giving his blessing to this outdoor hockey game in Los Angeles and legitimizing it.
- Oh, yes. There was one last moment where the crowd went wild. In the 3rd period the Dodger Stadium big screens broadcasted a live view from one of the suites above the 3rd baseline. At first we couldn’t tell who was on camera. Then, he appeared. The man, the myth, the legend. Wait for it……..PUIGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!! Cue the roar. Let the wild horse roam free!
As for the game, there’s not much to say. As we predicted, the Ducks won the game and thoroughly beat down the Kings by the score of 3-0. The Kings dominated the shots on net; however, weren’t able to find the back of the net. Jonas Hiller, the Ducks Goaltender, was the star of the show and made incredible save after incredible save. Meanwhile, the Anaheim attack was ridiculously efficient and jumped on the Kings early. It was over after the first five minutes. We just didn’t know it yet or we didn’t care. The spectacle was bigger than the game.
At some point during the hockey game we stopped caring about the result and started embracing the experience of being at Dodger Stadium for an outdoor hockey game. All in all, it was an experience that I won’t soon forget. I hope that the NHL makes this a yearly event. If I may add my two cents I would encourage the NHL to do a back-to-back between the Kings and Ducks at Dodger Stadium and then at Angels Stadium. Make it happen Bettman!