Fans pack into Dodger Stadium for outdoor ice hockey
NHL's Ducks shut out Kings; Scully, Gretzky, Puig among stars to take in special event
LOS ANGELES -- Interviewed on the NHL pregame show, Ned Colletti said the sight of an ice hockey rink on the Dodger Stadium field was surreal.
"But it's nice to come to the park," the Dodgers general manager and passionate hockey fan said, "and not care who wins."
The NHL's first outdoor game in California, played in front of a Dodger Stadium sellout crowd of 54,099, was a 3-0 win for the first-place Anaheim Ducks over the Los Angeles Kings, who suffered their fifth consecutive loss.
"We couldn't be more pleased," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, "as if it was scripted in Hollywood, and that's only appropriate. It was audacious to try and I'm grateful to everyone. Hockey is alive and well and thriving in California. It was a lot of fun and it looked good on TV."
Game-time temperature was 63 degrees, leaving the ice soft and the puck bouncing. Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller said that made for "not the prettiest game," but Kings coach Darryl Sutter said the ice "wasn't an issue."
Bettman said it was a technological wonder to hold an outdoor game in California in the first place and anticipates many more cities seeking outdoor games because this one was so successful.
The match, part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, was as much carnival as contest. There was pregame and intermission beach volleyball in left field, kids playing ball hockey on a dry rink set up between home plate and the mound.
KISS opened the pregame with a mini-concert in right field, starting with "Lick It Up" and closing with "Rock and Roll All Nite," complete with fireworks exploding from the stage.
Naturally, KISS was followed by Vin Scully, voice of the Dodgers for 65 years, who joined Kings announcer Bob Miller to mark the spectacle at what Scully called the "iconic landmark" of Dodger Stadium.
"It's time for … NHL hockey," Scully said.
Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem and The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, performed the ceremonial puck drop.
"It's a wonderful night, a spectacular event, it's only a plus for hockey," said Gretzky, who took hockey in L.A. to another level when the Kings traded for him in 1988. "It's an opportunity to show the people of North America what kind of hockey city this is, to show a different side of the sport."
Anaheim scored less than three minutes into the game, when Ryan Getzlaf's shot trickled through the legs of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and was flicked in by Corey Perry, his 28th goal of the season. Six minutes later, Anaheim struck again, with Matt Beleskey scoring on assists from Nick Bonino and Teemu Selanne.
Less than a minute later, a penalty shot was awarded to the Kings, but Jonas Hiller made the save on Anze Kopitar. The Kings outshot the Ducks in the first period, 20-7.
After a scoreless second period and another mini-concert, this time by Five for Fighting, the highlight of the third period was the introduction of Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig, Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda and broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela. Andrew Cogliano added an empty-net goal in the closing moments of the third on an assist from Kyle Palmieri to finish off the victory for Anaheim.