Stadium Series not just another
Sharks and Kings ready for grand
This isn't going to be your run of the mill hockey
game on Saturday night. The Sharks and Los Angeles Kings got their first taste
of Levi Stadium ice on Friday and from the looks of it, this is going to be
quite the spectacle. The NHL has pulled out all the stops for the Stadium
Series game scheduled for their showcase event in Santa Clara. From the locale
to the trimming, this is shaping up to be something folks are going to remember
for a long time.
"You remember the ones you win," said Sharks goal
scoring leader Joe Pavelski after the Sharks practice wrapped up at Levi's
Stadium on Friday afternoon. Pavelski was responding to a question about his
experiences with outdoor games. Pavelski played in a roofless game when he was
at the University of Wisconsin.
The thing is, Pavelski's going to
remember this one regardless of the outcome.
The atmosphere alone is going to make this one a
memorable one. The NHL announced that the game was sold out on Friday, which
means 70,000 plus will be in attendance at the newest sports facility in
Placing a hockey rink in the middle of a football stadium
means more than four times the number of people will be watching a hockey game
in Northern California. SAP Center holds 17,562 people. There's no roof to
bottle up the crowd noise, but rest assured that it's going to be loud.
The biggest challenge for both teams is going to be tuning out the
pomp and circumstance and playing quality hockey. That's easier said than done.
Everything is different Saturday night. The lighting, the temperature, the
humidity, the noise, not to mention that neither team has played a regulation
game on the temporary rink setup at the 50 yard line.
If anyone has
the advantage, it's the Kings, who played an outdoor game last season at Dodger
Stadium. That Southern California match-up with the neighboring Ducks was a
warm weather affair. Temps in Santa Clara are expected to be warmer than normal
for northern California is February, but it should be cooler than what the
Kings and Ducks had to endure last year.
The Sharks took the ice for
practice at 3:30pm on Friday as the sun dipped behind Levi Stadium's West side
luxury boxes. Regardless, it was hot. Every Sharks player commented on the heat
"It was hot from the second shift out there," said
Sharks enforcer John Scott.
Temperatures at ice level dropped
considerably when the Kings took the ice three hours after the start of the
Sharks practice. A slight breeze that whipped through the stadium helped cool
things down. The practice looked like any other for the Kings, albeit an
obvious focus on counter attacking plays. Darryl Sutter focused a good part of
his practice on turning the puck up ice, perhaps in preparation for an opponent
that could be affected by the new environment that Levi's Stadium will bring.
The Sharks will also have to deal with their emotions. Getting caught
up in the bravado of the event is something San Jose will have to put in check.
Scott admitted that he and his teammates will need to get past the
adrenaline injection that the environment is sure to provide.
another hockey, just in a different setting," said Scott. "We need to get past
that first 5 minutes of the game without getting caught up in things and get
out there and play."
Younger guys like Tomas Hertl may have to commit
a little more focus. The Sharks sophomore forward with the infectious smile
couldn't contain his excitement for the game, but also tried to make it clear
that he understands where his team stands.
"This team has been up and down all season," said
Hertl. Every game last year we had 50 shots a game. Now we're shooting half
that. Hopefully we w in and start something. I'm so excited for tomorrow.
There's going to be 70,000 people out there, but every game is a playoff game
for us now. We need every win."
Matt Neito was asked how he felt about
playing an outdoor game in his native California.
"I never thought
we'd be playing an outdoor game here, but it shows how far hockey has come in
California," Nieto told reporters.
Tommy Wingels echoed Nieto's
comments on California's emergence as a hockey state.
"The fact there
are American Hockey League Teams moving out there, shows that California is a
hockey market," said Wingels. "We work out in the biggest hockey facility west
of the Mississippi. This is a hockey market".
as a hockey haven also played a part in having back to back outdoor games in
the state. Given the stops that the NHL is pulling out for the game, there's
evidence that California has driven a credibility stake in the hockey
The 70,000 in attendance are unlikely to think this is
going to be just another game.
Join the discussion throughout game day
Stadium Series Game Day Thread on the LGS Message
|What did you think of
this article? Post your comments on the Feeder Forums