Sun steals the show at Lake Tahoe outdoor NHL games
While skiers enjoyed a bluebird powder day, the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche grinded through one period Saturday afternoon on sketchy ice before officials suspended play due to poor conditions caused by direct sunlight.
The game started at noon and ended at about 11 p.m. as the players waited eight hours between the first and second periods. Lake Tahoe’s spectacular views were in the spotlight for about an hour before the sun became the major player.
Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal more than nine hours after assisting on another to lead the Avalanche to a 3-2 win over the Knights.
“It was weird. It feels like a blur honestly,” MacKinnon said. “The ice was bad but we never thought of stopping. I never thought that was a possibility. I thought we would grind it out. … This was definitely more enjoyable, the second and third tonight.”
Snow was falling until about two hours before the puck dropped and then Edgewood Tahoe Resort became bathed in sunlight.
“It was a unique one and a game that people will remember for a long time,” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “Maybe not for the hockey game but for everyone falling in the first period this morning. Nonetheless it was a great experience and hope the fans who were able to stay up for this game were able to see how special a place this is.”
Landeskog was one of the players that was shown in slow-motion replays tripping over a divot in the ice during the first period.
The Avalanche were the better team during before and after the delay and were a step ahead of the Knights during most of the action.
The coronavirus pandemic led the NHL to stage its typical outdoor games at massive stadiums throughout the country, officials tried to find an outside of the box venue and they said Lake Tahoe was an easy choice when choosing the site.
No fans were allowed in the resort, but about two dozen kayakers and a few boats anchored off the shoreline and partied in the sunlight with obstructed views of the rink. They made themselves heard throughout the first period before the over 8-hour delay. The conditions on the water appeared to be more smooth than on the ice
After the delay, there were just a couple of boats on the water for the restart at 9 p.m. One even floated near to the shore before security turned it away. They could still be heard cheering on the action.
“There was a reason why they postponed it,” Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez said. “Obviously they did the best they could but the sun was beating down on it too much and was melting the ice. There were some big chunks taken out. We obviously didn’t want anyone getting hurt. If big chunks are coming out of the ice all the way to the cement, that’s obviously dangerous playing conditions.”
The outdoor games continue at 4:30 p.m. Sunday with the Boston Bruins playing the Philadelphia Flyers. The game was originally to start at noon, was then moved to 11 a.m., and then after watching what happened during the first period on Saturday, officials moved the game to 4:30 p.m.
The game will not be on NBC’s main network, but will be televised on NBCSN, Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Skiers and riders have one more chance this season to play in some fresh snow.