Stadium Series game hits home for Niskanen, Carlson
Opportunity to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will 'mean a lot' to Capitals defensemenby Tom Gulitti @TomGulitti / NHL.com Staff Writer
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Washington Capitals defensemen John Carlson and Matt Niskanen were at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday to watch the U.S. Naval Academy play against Southern Methodist University in its final home game of the football season and help unveil the 2018 Coors Light Stadium Series logo.
The Capitals will play against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on March 3 (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports, NHL.TV), the first time a U.S. service academy will host an NHL outdoor game.
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The game will launch a series of Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games at the U.S. Military Academies over the next few seasons.
"Hopefully the weather is just like this in March," Niskanen said. "It will be fun to be a part of."
With a game-time temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, Niskanen and Calrson watched the first quarter and a half from the Navy sideline. Before the game, they met the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, Vice Admiral Walter E. Carter, toured Navy's locker room and learned some of the history of the stadium.
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium's capacity of 34,000 is smaller than most of the previous venues that have hosted outdoor games, but Carlson and Niskanen believe that will make the setting even more special.
"Certainly, there's not going to be a bad seat," Carlson said. "With the way the stadium is and the sightlines, it's perfect."
"It seems set up well for a hockey rink," Niskanen said.
This will be the third outdoor game for Niskanen and Carlson; each played for the Capitals against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington.
Carlson, 27, also played for the Capitals against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Niskanen, 30, played for the Penguins against the Blackhawks in the 2014 Stadium Series at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Capitals held team-building exercises at the U.S. Naval Academy prior to the start of the 2014-15 season, but Carlson and Niskanen have never previously been to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which opened on Sept. 26, 1959. The memorial aspects of the stadium, including the Memorial Plaque Wall and battle arches, allow visitors to chronologically view the story of the men and women who have served the country.
As U.S.-born players, Niskanen (Virginia, Minnesota) and Carlson (Natick, Massachusetts) appreciate the opportunity they'll have to play in the stadium and its connection to the Navy and Marine Corps' histories.
"It might not mean as much to people that aren't American, but to us it's going to mean a lot, I think," Niskanen said. "It will be a cool storyline."
"It's a different feel from any other stadium I've been in," Carlson said.
The 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series logo integrates elements of the histories of the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Navy and Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, including the eagle that is featured on the graduating class plaques around the stadium, the battle arches, the north star, and the anchor.
The Capitals and Maple Leafs crests for the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series were also unveiled. The Capitals crest is an adaptation of their current logo that reads "Caps." The classic Maple Leafs primary logo will serve their crest for the outdoor game.