NHL stadium series spotlights rivalry

Liz Levey, ‘Doah Staff Writer
January 29, 2014

'Doah photo by Liz Levey

‘Doah photo by Liz Levey

As the D train rolls into the Bronx 161 St. station -Yankee Stadium- the roar of cheers echo through the tunnel and out to the streets. No, these aren’t cheers for the Bronx bombers. “Lets Go RANGERS!” “Lets Go DEVILS” “Devils suck!” On Sunday Jan. 26, the game of hockey took over the house that Ruth built and hosted the second game of the Coors Light Stadium Series. Sunday’s matchup was a rivalry like no other on a chilly afternoon when the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils took the ice– outside.

Sunday’s game was not just about the players on the ice, but also about the fans in the stands. The NHL created a fan zone with a variety of hockey-themed fan attractions within the Great Hall and Concourse of Yankee Stadium.

It included interactive attractions, prizes and giveaways, as well as merchandise tents. When wondering the hallowed hall of Yankee Stadium, you could feel the energy and the anticipation of all the hockey fans. This is a moment that everyone has waited for: to play hockey where it started– outside.

The rumble began as the players took the ice and each teams’ fans began cheering and booing the others’ stars. The rivalry of the Hudson was about to be underway. Once the puck hit the ice, the magic began.

Devils veteran star Patrik Elias commenced the offensive onslaught just 5:36 into the contest. The 37-year-old raced out of the penalty box following an early four-on-four situation, took a lengthy pass from Ryane Clowe and beat star Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on the stick side to give New Jersey an early 1-0 lead. The Rangers went down 3-1 late in the first period and were looking for some momentum. That’s when Marc Staal for the Rangers responded by pushing the puck past New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, cutting the deficit to one.

When the period ended and the players headed into their locker rooms, fans dashed to concessions stands trying to warm themselves up before the second period began. The hottest commodity was hot chocolate in a reusable travel mug.

As for entertainment, the first intermission performance was given by the New Jersey Shore rock band, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. As both teams took the ice to start the second period, nobody guessed the surge that the Rangers would find.

A light snowfall coming down was the icing on the cake for the outdoor game. As soon as the second period began, it was all Rangers. Right- winger Mats Zuccarello scored goals at 2:48 and 12:44 into the second.

Another tally came by Carl Hagelin just a little more than a minute later giving New York insurance, but Rick Nash’s goal was the clincher. Nash built on his recent strong form, scoring his seventh goal in five games.

His goal made it 6-3 with just 29 seconds before the second period ended—a gut wrenching blow to the Devils. That goal ended Brodeur’s rough afternoon. Cory Schneider, over the past few weeks, has been the hot hand for the Devils. He played better in relief, but was still beaten on a penalty shot by Derek Stepan to cap off the scoring.

With the Devils fans deflated from the day’s mess of play, Rangers fans were jumping in the isle singing their goal song. A total of 10 goals scored was historic for both the Rangers and the NHL as it is the most to be scored in an outdoor game.

The images were unforgettable and the sheer energy of the fans was unmistakable. There are two more games left in the Stadium Series: New York Rangers v. New York Islanders, which takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 29 and a Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks showdown that takes place on     Saturday, Mar. 1.

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