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Rangers, Isles, Devils to play at Yankee Stadium

Two games, part of NHL's Stadium Series, scheduled for the Bronx in late January

The Yankee Stadium diamond will be transformed into an ice rink come January, when it will host its first-ever hockey games.

The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday that the Stadium will be the site for two games that between them will feature all three New York metropolitan-area hockey teams. The New York Rangers will first square off against the New Jersey Devils at 12:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 26, then take on the New York Islanders at 7:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 29.

The games are the final two pieces of the four-game 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks will meet at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25 and the Chicago Blackhawks will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field on March 1.

"The innovative nature of the Stadium Series affords the opportunity to have all three NHL teams in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area play, outdoors, at one of the most-celebrated stadiums in the world," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We'll be able to create a multifaceted, multiday experience for our fans, and we thank the teams, Coors Light, the New York Yankees and Yankee Stadium for their support of this memorable NHL event."

Since its opening in 2009, Yankee Stadium has hosted multiple college football games -- including the New Era Pinstripe Bowl -- as well as concerts, soccer games and a boxing super-welterweight title match. The original Yankee Stadium also hosted events across multiple sports, including football and championship boxing, in addition to a number of entertainment and cultural events, such as Papal masses, commencements and circuses.

The Rangers and Devils enjoy a strong rivalry but the Rangers-Islanders rivalry has long been considered one of the most heated in sports, with its origins dating to the Islanders' entry into the NHL in 1972.

Between MLB and the NHL, only three teams have won as many as four consecutive championships. The Yankees and Montreal Canadiens have each accomplished that twice, with each having once won five straight titles. The Islanders are the other, having won the Stanley Cup four times from 1980-83.

The Rangers recently defeated the Washington Capitals in seven games to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Bruins beginning Thursday. The Islanders last week took the Penguins to six games before losing in what was their first Stanley Cup playoff series in six years. The Devils, who have won the Cup three times, missed the postseason for only the second time in the past 16 seasons.

The NHL's Winter Classic, which began in 2008, has been played in a Major League ballpark three times: Chicago's Wrigley Field in 2009, Boston's Fenway Park in 2010 and Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park in 2012.

"We have long thought that Yankee Stadium would be a great venue for outdoor hockey," said Lonn Trost, the Yankees' chief operating officer. "In addition to being a first-class baseball facility, Yankee Stadium was designed to house unique and memorable events, such as the NHL Stadium Series. Hosting two of the NHL's classic rivalries at Yankee Stadium will be a great kickoff for the worldwide sporting events in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area scheduled in early 2014."

The NFL's Super Bowl is scheduled to be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Feb. 2.

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.