Nature in full resplendence at NHL Outdoors



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NHL Lake Tahoe outdoor games summary Image: NHL

National Hockey League (NHL) (US) players trying to outplay each other on a white sheet of carpet amidst sylvan surroundings – it was almost a dream-like setting and rink fun which the NHL players will forever remember.

NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe (US) was a series of two outdoor regular season National Hockey League (NHL) games, held on the weekend of February 20th-21st, 2021. Both games were played without fans in a stadium on the 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada.

The Boston Bruins’ 7-3 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Honda NHL Outdoors against the backdrop of the sun setting behind the Sierra Nevada (mountain range in California) was like a most luxurious dreamy escape in a setting beyond compare. The result was even something better than the NHL had planned.

nhl.com sources quoted Bruins forward David Pastrnak as telling NBCSN, “Oh, man, it was beautiful. We enjoyed every second of it, as you could see.”

The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston. They compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the East Division. The team has been in existence since 1924, making them the third-oldest active team in the NHL, and the oldest to be based in the United States.

The Philadelphia Flyers are a professional ice hockey team based in Philadelphia. They compete in the NHL as a member of the East Division.

The NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe was meant to celebrate the most romantic roots of hockey, a bunch of guys playing for the love of the game outdoors in very scenic surroundings.

With COVID-19 taking more than 500,000 lives in the United States and the country still hanging by a thread as far as the coronavirus situation is concerned, having fans for the games was simply out of question. It was a made-for-TV event and a smashing success. To grab more and more eyeballs and cash in on the verdant surroundings, the NHL scheduled two games on the 18th fairway of the golf course at Edgewood Tahoe Resort.

nhl.com sources added that the weather played spoilsport on Saturday (February 20th) with the Bridgestone NHL Outdoors. Despite the forecast calling for partly cloudy skies, the sun forced the NHL to suspend the game after the first period because of poor ice conditions. The Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights resumed at midnight ET/9 pm PT, with the Avalanche winning 3-2.

With the forecast calling for sun throughout the afternoon on Sunday (February 21st), the NHL delayed the Bruins and Flyers until 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT.

The Colorado Avalanche is a professional ice hockey team based in Denver (US). They compete in the NHL as a member of the West Division.

The Vegas Golden Knights are a professional ice hockey team based in the Las Vegas (US) metropolitan area. They compete in the NHL as a member of the West Division. Founded as an expansion team, they began play in the 2017-18 NHL seasons.

It was almost like a phantasmagoria – at one point the sun was glaring off the lake and the ice and at the next moment, the sun slipped behind the majestic mountains. Even though the glare was gone, it was still a vision for the NHL players who could still see the mountains and the lake in detail, just in softer hues. The sun shining on the rink was simply mesmerizing.

At times, the sky was turning shades of yellow, orange and blue, and the ice was bright white under the artificial lights.

Remarked Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, “It was truly like a nighttime outdoor game like when you were a kid playing outside on the pond. That’s what it felt like. The trees … you know, walking on the bench, you see the lake, a few boats back there. A very pristine sort of surroundings. That was my favorite part.”

While the NHL Outdoor fixtures were on, the sun sank deeper, the colors became deeper too – orange and pink and purple. Slowly, one could see only the outline of the mountains, the snow and the lake below had faded to black. The ice was an even brighter white. It looked like an oil painting – so engrossing was the scenery.

Bruins defenseman John Moore said, “Hats off to the NHL and everyone who made this happen. It was really special. It’s a tough year without fans. You can’t really say enough about this event. I’ve been fortunate to play in a couple of outdoor games, and this one really blows them all out of the water.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that despite the issues the League faced, the weekend worked wonders for the game and brought total bliss. But, since the game was held without fans, the energy which the roar of the crowd lends to an arena was missing though nature was at its full resplendence.

Added Commissioner Bettman, “This is obviously a special event put on under very special circumstances. But the game and the players draw tremendous energy from our fans, and that’s really what it’s all about. So as unique and as compelling as this may be artistically, the fact is, we want to be back with our fans.”

The NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe was indeed soothing for the players who loved every moment of it.

Concluded Pastrnak, “Overall, its great fun and really enjoyable out here. Too bad we have to leave.”

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