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Islanders, Rangers fans soak in Stadium Series

by Brian Compton

NEW YORK -- It didn't matter that the thermometer read 21 degrees 90 minutes before puck drop between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders at Yankee Stadium in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. Rangers fan Terrence McCallen was determined to brave the elements and take in the whole experience.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime event," said McCallen, who was standing in the front row of Section 107 in right field, watching the NHL Network pregame show. "I thought I might as well get here [early] and see everything the stadium has to offer. It's been incredible so far since I got here."

McCallen is part of a capacity crowd expected at Yankee Stadium, three days after the Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 7-3 in front of 50,105 at this famous ballpark. The recent graduate of Creighton University didn't know he'd be a part of it until last month.

"Once I got [tickets], I was totally stoked," said McCallen, who received his tickets as a Christmas gift. "I was counting down the days until today.

"I didn't go the game Sunday, but I would have loved to have been there. I thought it was beautiful. It was awesome seeing the players playing out in the elements. It was something else, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure."

There were plenty of Islanders fans in the house too. James Webler, a property manager in the Bronx, was set to help cheer his team to a victory in the franchise's first-ever outdoor game. Wednesday is Webler's third experience at an NHL outdoor game; he attended the 2008 and 2009 Winter Classics in Buffalo and Chicago, respectively.

"Both of them were really cool experiences," Webler said. "I always wanted to see my Islanders play [outdoors]. This is my home stadium, so I'm very excited."

The Islanders are winless in their past three games (0-2-1), but they have won 10 of their past 16 games in an attempt to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Eastern Conference. Much like his favorite team, Webler knows how crucial these two points are for the Islanders.

"They still have a lot of work [to do] to get to 90 points, which should get them into the playoffs," Webler said. "The game is more important than the surroundings."

But if the Rangers and Islanders are going to have an outdoor game in New York, Webler is glad those involved picked his baseball team's venue.

"I was always hopeful [they'd play an outdoor game]," he said, "and I'm glad it's here and not Citi Field."

McCallen was eager to see his team take on the Islanders in one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports, in a new, exciting setting.

"Rangers-Islanders, a historic rivalry," said McCallen, who was sporting a Henrik Lundqvist jersey. "It should be a lot of fun. I never thought something like this would happen. It's amazing what they've done with everything here."


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