Through my eyes: Hockey at Dodger Stadium
Diary of a hockey game — but not just any hockey game. This was arguably the most unique game the NHL has ever staged: outdoors at Dodger Stadium, in comfortable spring-like temperatures, with the San Gabriel Mountains as a backdrop and more than 54,000 fans watching.
Kings vs. Ducks. Hockey under the stars. A spectacle unlike any other.
Here is how Saturday night unfolded:
4:30 p.m. — Stan Kasten is walking around the press box looking more like a fan than the president of the Dodgers, which is his official title in these parts.
"It’s a great event," he says, "and the juxtaposition of this fantastic game in this one-of-a-kind setting is really unique. I’m really loving it, and that’s why we’re sold out."
4:45 — Fans have been streaming through the turnstiles for 15 minutes, and as the sun passes overheard, leaving the ballpark in shadows, NHL workers begin removing the reflective blankets used to protect the ice in the daytime.
5:10 — Hockey and Dodger dogs. Perfect together.
Flavio Jauregui is holding a beer in one hand and squirting mustard on his dog with the other. Here’s the truth: He loves the Kings and the Dodgers. He bought his tickets six months ago when they first went on sale, and he wasn’t going to miss this game for anything.
"I’m pretty stoked," he says. "I’m just waiting for them to come out. It’s going to get pretty rowdy here."
Of course it will. It’s hockey.
6:25 — Finally, the Kings and Ducks players take the ice for warmups. A roar cascades through the ballpark. The anticipation is building. This is a regular-season game, but it’s also more than that.
6:55 — Is this a hockey game or a KISS concert? Well, right now it’s a concert. The ageless rock group takes the stage in right field and belts out a couple of raucous songs — actually, they’re lip-synching to pre-recorded music — complete with spewing smoke and fire. There’s going to be a hockey game at some point, but remember, this is a spectacle first, a hockey game second.
7:08 — To a deafening ovation, Hall of Fame broadcasters Vin Scully and Bob Miller walk out to handle pregame introductions. Appropriately, Scully takes the microphone first with his inimitable greeting: "Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you." You begin to think the Dodgers will take the field.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 26, 2014
7:10 — The USC marching band enters through center field, with both teams walking behind, side by side. Then, Wayne Gretzky follows to a respectful greeting from the crowd.
7:13 — "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks performs the national anthem, Gretzky drops the ceremonial first puck, and suddenly, this game is ready to begin.
7:16 — Scully, one more time, takes the mic to utter another incomparable phrase, with a twist, that Dodgers fans know so well: "And now, it’s time for NHL hockey!"
7:17 — The game is underway. Temperature: 63 degrees. Humidity: 56 percent.
7:21 — Less than three minutes into the game, Corey Perry scores for the Ducks. The Kings entered the game with four losses in a row. This doesn’t look good.
In the last 6 months, Corey Perry & Cristiano Ronaldo became the 1st players to score a goal at Dodger Stadium in their respective sports.
— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) January 26, 2014
7:59 — The first period ends, and it isn’t looking good for the Kings. They’re down 2-0 despite out-shooting the Ducks 20-7. They trudge off the ice, and within minutes KISS is back on stage. A beach volleyball game in left field resumes, kids are playing hockey on the inline rink near home plate and the Zamboni is putting on a new sheet of ice. The senses feel overwhelmed.
9:48 — At the back of the press box, public relations maven Steve Brener is refuting fans’ tweets that suggest they’ve run out of beer at Dodger Stadium. Not true, he says. They just ran low and had to re-stock their concession stands.
"This was an early arriving crowd," he said, "and they started drinking early."
Ah, hockey fans.