There was a NHL size hockey rink in the center of Dodger Stadium, as in true Hollywood fashion the rock stars of Southern California hockey, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, made their way to the rink through a sea of palm trees, as the USC Trojan marching band played, to take the stage in the first ever outdoor hockey game in Southern California, on Saturday.
There were lights, there were stages, there was a roller hockey field, a beach volleyball court, KISS, Jordin Sparks, Five for Fighters, and 54099 fans (minus the bright orange) screaming and chanting for their team (mostly for the Kings). It was a sight to see as Tinsletown had become Hockeytown. All those that ever said Southern California would not be a Hockeytown, an outdoor game would melt the ice, and so on, were proved wrong as the event was a sold-out and the execution perfect.
A standing ovation was due as Vin Scully, voice of the Dodgers, and Bob Miller, voice of the Kings, stood side by side and gave a beautiful introduction to the game by showcasing hockey in Southern California and how far it has come, reminding those born and raised in Southern California what it is like and how different it is.
In Southern California we don’t step outside in January bundled up in warmth, but the opposite, in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops, and the way the Stadium was set up encompassed just that. What other outdoor game in hockey doesn’t worry about snow hitting the ice in January, but instead flies and bugs getting in the way, as in numerous instances the referees and players had to whack one out the way with a stick or by hand.
As the teams took to their stage, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, took the same route through the palm trees and made his way to center ice where he will always belong in the eyes of hockey. He dropped the ceremonial puck and they couldn’t have picked someone better.
Hockey in California has always been but a mere dream, to make the sport popular in a state where lakes don’t freeze in the winter to become a pond. When Gretzky arrived to the Kings in 1988, he didn’t know he would help popularize the sport in Southern California, but he did. Because of the popularity and demand for the sport he brought to the fans of Southern California, teams like the Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes came into play. After he left, for years no Southern California team advanced as far as he took the Kings in the 1992-93 season (Stanley Cup Final). However, in 2007 the Ducks won their first Stanley Cup, but it wasn’t until 2012 when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history did the state of California really sink into hockey. Tinsletown had finally become Hockeytown and if that didn’t happen, the Kings and Ducks wouldn’t have made history at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
The idea, the event and its atmosphere was executed perfectly embedding the meaning and feeling of growing up with hockey in Southern California, but it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Kings, as they are heavily suffering from scoring goals.
The game ended without the stadium once hearing what the goal horn sounded like, as the Ducks shutout the Kings 3-0.
The Kings outshot the Ducks 36-21 but not one goal got past Jonas Hiller. The opportunities were not high-powered or even set up for a rebound. They tried creating urgency and pushed to tie the game at every opportunity, but couldn’t take advantage especially on the power-play. The Ducks two goals came in the first period and the third was an empty-netter when the Kings pulled their goaltender Jonathan Quick, with one minute remaining in the game. Quick was yet again phenomenal, making those amazing saves we love to see, but even with strong efforts, the Kings lost their fifth game in a row.
Despite the outcome, history was still made and the chapter of Southern California hockey opened a whole new page.
Before returning to STAPLES Center on January 30 for a four-game home stand, before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics break, the Kings will take on the San Jose Sharks on Monday, and the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.
- Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks Will Make Hockey History in Southern California
- It’s a Beautiful Day to Play Hockey in Southern California
- The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks Give a Great Preview to the Stadium Series Game Between the Two Southern California Rivals
- Los Angeles Kings: Media Event at Dodger Stadium
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