With an outdoor game ready to go and an F-16 next to the rink, a great atmosphere was immediately noticeable with the Stadium Series at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the home of U.S. hockey. An incredible packed crowd accompanied this great game with the fans and cadets shouting and screaming. The L.A. Kings and Colorado Avalanche would have the privilege of playing in this 31 degree outdoor game.
The game began with a fast paced, playoff-like energy and competitiveness as the teams would be very physical while producing lots of chances, all while playing at high speed. Even more impressive was Jonathan Quick, saving quality chance after quality chance against the Avalanche.
Despite being out-shot at one point 14-1, the Kings would make a tremendous play from the point. A slapshot was redirected off the the post and was then tapped in by trade prospect Tyler Toffoli. The Kings would eliminate the Avs speed through the neutral zone, get a breakaway chance and change the whole momentum of the game in the second half of the first period.
Score: 1-0 LA Kings
Air Force Academy students helped keep the second period at the same pace as the first period with their high level of energy as they yelled and hollered.
L.A. kept the puck and pressure on Colorado, forcing several icing errors on the Avs part. This was further pressed for Avalanche as L.A. would get extended offensive zone time in the second period.
Colorado would turn it around a little later in the period, getting a breakaway and extended zone time of their own. Unfortunately for them, it was an unfruitful endeavor because of the Kings’ aggressive defense and next level goaltending.
A huge scramble with multiple shots would lead to a goal for the Avs. Quick lost his stick after being run into during the scramble and tried to reach for it. Right as he did this Samuel Girard would go top shelf to tie the game.
Back and forth play dominated the beginning of the third period.
In a high speed 1-on-1 goalie Philipp Grubauer was hit very hard and was injured on the play. Philipp left the game hurt and backup goalie Pavel Francouz took his place.
It started to get heated as the period continued and after a couple of penalties were called. Some words and shoves were evident between these two teams.
Some fantastic chances were denied by Pavel and his team during a short Kings power play, keeping it tied in the low-scoring affair.
The crowd, with much tension in the air, became restless in the final minutes of the period. This would be answered in the final minute of play with a second goal from Tyler Toffoli. The game was then sealed with a hat trick into the empty net by Tyler after Colorado pulled their goalie. It marked the first NHL hat trick in an outdoor game out of 30 that have been played. Fantastic efforts by both teams, the only difference was in netting the scoring chances they received.
Score: 3-1 L.A. Kings