Guest Author - Sue Walsh
The hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium, one of the most legendary venues in all of professional sports, rang out with cheers not for the home team, but for hockey. As part of the NHL’s Stadium Series, the New York Rangers met the New Jersey Devils in an outdoor contest that took place in the home of the Bronx Bombers. The rink was constructed in the infield and in aerial views was dwarfed by the massive ballpark, which can hold over 50,000.
Enthusiastic fans of both teams filled the seats for the game, which was delayed for 30 minutes due to sun glare. That problem quickly disappeared as clouds and then snow rolled in. As the players fought for the puck, the steady snowfall brought made the event feel like an old-fashioned pond hockey game.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist showed his respect for the location by sporting pinstriped pads and a custom painted helmet that featured more pinstripes and portraits of Yankee greats Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. Both teams suited up in special uniforms, traditional white jerseys for the Rangers with “New York” emblazoned on them, and for the Devils, who despite being in New York were the designated home team, gave a nod to their history by wearing their old red and green uniforms. The current team colors are red and black.
The Devils got off to a good start, racking up a 3-1 lead after the first period, but the Rangers made a roaring comeback, crushing them 7-3 with 6 unanswered goals including goals by Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Marc Stall, Carl Haglin and pair by Mats Zuccarello A win would have let NJ jump to 2nd place in the standings, but instead they will remain in 7th while the Rangers hold on to that coveted 2nd spot.
The NHL’s outdoor hockey events began with the Heritage Classic in 2003, which is exclusively played by Canadian teams. The Winter Classic was added in 2008 and designed to be the American counterpart to the Heritage Classic. The Stadium Series was added in 2014. So far all have been a success for the NHL.