By Kyle Shohara
LOS ANGELES – Under clear skies and 65-degree weather, the Ducks emerged from the visiting dugout a little after 6 p.m. this evening to take part in a historic practice at Dodger Stadium.
Family and friends of the players, as well as assorted team staffers and media, lined the glass as they watched the Ducks go through a spirited 45-minute practice session. The pace was quick and the players said the ice conditions were good enough to handle the rigors of a hard skate.
“It was good,” said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler. “It was really good. There are some differences in the Honda Center or wherever you play, but all in all, it shouldn’t have a big effect on the game.”
A news helicopter hovered over Dodger Stadium, further bringing the uniqueness of this event into focus.
“Looking around between shifts, it’s pretty impressive,” said goaltender Jonas Hiller. “You definitely notice it’s a little warmer and more humid than normal, but it was a great experience.”
Adds Fowler, “I was just trying to take it all in. First, I was trying to get my bearings and look around to see where home plate is. Just looking at the different seats and trying to get a feel for how it’s going to be for them watching the game. Then, just getting on the ice and getting used to it all.
“It certainly took some getting used to, but the whole experience is going to be great,” said Fowler. “It’s such a great atmosphere, and something we’re definitely looking forward to.”
Having an outdoor game in Southern California speaks volumes for the growth of the game in this region of the country, and forward Nick Bonino says skating at Dodger Stadium is something he’ll cherish forever.
“I’m soaking it all in,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to get out there with the guys and be out there with our families. Today was a great memory, as I’m sure tomorrow will be.”
Though the sun was down and the night felt crisp, the players said it was noticeably warmer on the bench than under normal arena conditions. Hydration will be critical, and defenseman Ben Lovejoy says he’s already way ahead of the game.
“I don’t think I can hydrate anymore,” he said. “I am so hydrated, so I’ll be fine. Other people might have to, though.”
Lovejoy grew up in New Hampshire and spent many days and nights playing outdoors, but he never dreamed he would be playing hockey under these kinds of conditions.
“At no point in my childhood did I ever skate outside in 70-degree weather,” he said with a laugh. “It is so cool, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
“Maybe our children out there right now will be able to look back at their childhood memories from skating at Dodger Stadium.”
Lovejoy and the rest of the Ducks can only hope they create one more memory tomorrow night – a victory over the Kings on this same ice.