By Danny Wallace ‘21
Lake Tahoe, a breathtakingly beautiful lake on the California-Nevada border, was the site of two NHL contests last week. The switch to this scenic landscape from the usual NHL outdoor game setting of an MLB or NFL stadium galvanized fans across the nation.
And, oh my, did the gamble pay off.
On Feb. 20, the Colorado Avalanche faced off against the Vegas Golden Knights on the 18th fairway of Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nev. with the Sierra Nevada looming in the distance. Even without fans due to COVID-19, the atmosphere was unbelievable as it was just pure hard-nosed hockey, every NHL fan’s dream. At times, I felt myself staring at the surroundings rather than the actual competition itself.
Avid NHL fan Conor Durkin weighed in and said, “I thought the Lake Tahoe games were a great idea by the NHL. They provided fans with great hockey as well as awesome scenery.”
The Avalanche beat the Golden Knights 3-2 with stellar play from forward Nathan Mackinnon. The game did not go without any hiccups though. After the first period, the contest had to be postponed as a result of unusually high temperatures, leading to poor ice conditions. It resumed at midnight.
Die-hard Blackhawks fan Aidan O’Connor said, “As bad as it was that the game had to be postponed, starting it back up at midnight made the experience so much better.”
On Feb. 21, the Boston Bruins took on the Philadelphia Flyers. A much higher scoring and less controversial competition, the Bruins trounced the Flyers 7-3 behind a hat trick from superstar David Pastrnak. It was a truly special finale for such a unique event.
Because of its success, the NHL is likely to continue this experiment for many years to come with even more fascinating venues. Hopefully, fans will be able to share in the excitement of the matches next year.
Senior Sean Mahanes puts it perfectly when he said, “It would be a disservice to fans if the NHL did not continue doing outdoor games in this way each and every year. Both games were extremely exciting.”