The setting was spectacular, but the ice conditions were far from it, causing an extended delay between the first and second periods of the outdoor game between Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche in Lake Tahoe.
The NHL decided to stop play for more than eight hours on Saturday after the bright sun and temperatures hovering around freezing led to poor ice conditions causing players and officials to repeatedly fall due to holes in the ice.
“We have played more than 30 outdoor games,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told NBC. “This has been the most difficult weather circumstance we have had and it is a beautiful day. But if you look at the sun, the cloud cover is everywhere except where the sun is, and it did a number on the ice. “
Play was stopped after the first period at 12.55 p.m. PT and Bettman said the plan is to play the last two periods starting at 9 p.m.
Bettman said some players wanted to continue playing while others did not, but the final decision was made in consultation with the union for safety reasons.
“We wanted to go back,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said on NBC. “It’s probably a good decision to move him tonight, and we’ll be ready to go.”
The teams were working on the ice just before the initial showdown and problems continued to crop up throughout the period.
“We’ve done more than 30 games (outdoors) and we’ve never had a problem like this,” Bettman said. “We have played with some rain, we have played with snow, but the sun has always been our enemy.”
Ice problems removed the spectacular setting for the game, which is played on a makeshift track on 18th fairway of a golf course on the shore of Lake Tahoe, with snow-capped mountains in the background.
It snowed overnight and into the morning before the sun came up. While the pristine conditions made for perfect views, it was detrimental to the ice.
But the delay did not alter Bettman’s commitment to outdoor games, even in unconventional settings outside of a stadium like Lake Tahoe.
“This game was really taking the game back to its roots in terms of the environment,” Bettman said. “Obviously, we try to do something different at an unusual time, try to give our fans something special. The players were excited about it. … We are going to keep doing this, but we always knew and will know in the future that when you play outdoors and ice is important, the weather conditions can affect whether or not we can play. We’ve been lucky up to this point and I think we’re all disappointed, but the teams have been great. … And we move on. You can’t be successful if you don’t risk failure. “
The avalanche led the game 1-0 with a goal from Samuel Girard.
The NHL announced Sunday’s game between Boston and Philadelphia will be delayed more than five hours to avoid the bright sun that is causing problems for the first game this weekend.
Play at Edgewood Tahoe Resort will now begin at 4.30pm PT. It had originally been scheduled for a local start at noon and then moved again at 11 a.m. earlier in the week due to the forecast.
The game also moved from NBC to NBCSN, and the New Jersey Devils-Washington Capitals game previously scheduled for 7 p.m. ET is now switched to 2 p.m. and airs on NBC.
Both teams were unable to practice on the specially constructed outdoor track prior to Saturday’s Vegas-Colorado game due to ice conditions. Instead, they were forced to go to a local indoor track.
“In this game, you have to learn to adapt,” said Flyers coach Alain Vigneault.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism