Excitement filled the air as members of the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and NHL executives met at Yankee Stadium Thursday to discuss the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series.
The three New York metro area teams will take center stage in January, 2014, for the first hockey games ever at Yankee Stadium. The Islanders host the Rangers on January 29, three days after the Rangers and Devils battle on the same sheet of ice.
Taking the field at shortstop, looking toward the stands behind home plate, Islanders forward Matt Moulson forecasted the buzz around the Stadium that would cone from 50,287 frenzied fans as the teams walk from the dugouts to the ice.
“I'm sure I'll probably have a couple butterflies in my stomach,” Moulson said. “I don't think I've ever played with a crowd this big. It'll be exciting and hopefully we can feed off that energy. No matter where we are in the standings, it's always a great game with us and the Rangers. I expect nothing less for this one.”
The Wednesday night showdown will be telecast nationally on NBC Sports Network. Forward John Tavares believes the national exposure gives the up-and-coming Islanders a prime opportunity to represent Long Island on a bigger stage.
“It sure will be a great event not just individually, but as a team to showcase where we want to get to and where we're headed,” Tavares said. “Growing up with backyard rinks and ponds in Canada, it's going to have a special feeling. To be playing in New York, at Yankee Stadium – we probably won’t realize just how special it is until afterward or maybe during the game while we’re taking it all in.”
Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, who was one of the keynote speakers at the press conference, drew a comparison between the new Yankee Stadium, with all its amenities and state-of-the-art features, and how playing hockey outdoors will take players back to their roots.
“As a former player, a lot of my memories as a child are of playing outdoors,” Snow, who grew up in Massachusetts, said. “Whether it was a lake or a pond, those memories are something that you always cherish. I know our players are extremely proud and happy to be playing in an event such as this. It’s an extremely exciting time for the New York Islanders organization and for our fans.”
Tavares also tied the upcoming Stadium Series games to his hockey upbringing in Toronto.
“Me and (Edmonton Oilers forward) Sam Gagner grew up together. His dad had built a beautiful rink in his backyard and I was over there three or four days a week. On Saturdays we would practice together on our minor hockey team and then head straight to his backyard from noon until 8-9 o'clock at night. You couldn't feel your fingers or your toes. Those were the days where you evolved your skills and your passion for the game.”
The passion will be on full display when the puck drops between the Islanders and Rangers on January 29, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. Only Islanders full and partial plan subscribers will have exclusive access to tickets for the once-in-a-lifetime event. For more information on becoming a Season Ticket Holder, CLICK HERE.
VIDEO: FULL PRESS CONFERENCE | READ: LOCALS EXCITED | GAME TIME CHANGE