STATELINE, Nev. – Some players snapped pictures of Lake Tahoe and the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains as they came out for their first look at the picturesque outdoor rink that will host a pair of NHL games this weekend.
Others just soaked in the environment before taking the ice for a practice that took them back to their childhood, when many got started playing hockey on frozen ponds and lakes.
It’s fair to say none of those makeshift rinks was quite like the one that will be used for the games this weekend between Vegas and Colorado and Philadelphia and Boston in one of the most scenic settings imaginable.
“Anywhere where they can build outdoor rinks, there’s always a competition on the street whose dad can build a better rink,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said Friday after his team practiced in preparation for Saturday’s game against the Avalanche.
“Every year you come back and someone adds lights or a scoreboard. This is a drop the mic type outdoor rink. It’s the nicest I’ve ever seen. The guys really, really enjoyed it today. It’s awe-inspiring when you walk out there and see the mountains and the lake in the background. The only thing we’re missing is fans.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting attendance at games, the NHL took the opportunity to hold a pair of outdoor games at a unique setting unlike the 30 previous outdoor games at stadiums.
They built a rink on the 18th fairway of the golf course of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort, which is located on the shores of Lake Tahoe and surrounded by trees with the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountain range towering in the background.
“It’s a really cool feeling,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “The surroundings speak for themselves. You can see that in pictures. But it still doesn’t really do it justice. It’s probably the purest form of hockey, being outdoors and obviously the elements and the wind and the sun comes into play. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”