MELBOURNE, Australia -- The Los Angeles Kings gathered on the field at the Melbourne Cricket Ground wearing the black and white of the Collingwood Magpies of the Australian Football League. A photographer asked them to look at the camera.
"Can we get a 'Go Pies' on three?" someone asked. "One. Two. Three."
"Go Pies!" they yelled, some of them punching fists into the air, laughing.
Then they saw the Magpies defeat the Greater Western Sydney Giants 58-57 before a crowd of 97,665 in the AFL Preliminary Finals on Friday night. Collingwood advanced to the Grand Final, the AFL’s version of the Super Bowl.
The NHL came to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time hoping to attract people to a new sport in the 2023 NHL Global Series -- Melbourne, two preseason games between the Kings and Arizona Coyotes at Rod Laver Arena. It succeeded in more ways than one.
"Oh, yeah," Kings forward Kevin Fiala said. "It was wild. It felt like there were no rules. Guys running around, no helmets, no nothing. It was probably the coolest sport I've ever seen in my life."