Washington Capitals forward Chandler Stephenson is keeping a diary of his experiences at the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. The Capitals face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVAS, SNE, SNO, SNP, NHL.TV) in the 25th outdoor regular-season game and the last of three this season.
In his first installment Thursday, Stephenson talks about being disappointed that the outdoor practices and family skate on Friday were canceled and his memories of playing outdoors when he was growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
ARLINGTON, VA. -- It was disappointing this morning when we learned our practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday was canceled because of the weather.
We'll practice here at Kettler Capitals Iceplex instead, but canceling the outdoor practice meant the family skate scheduled for after our practice was also canceled.
I was really looking forward to that. My father, Kurt, my mother, Bev, and my brother, Colton, are coming down from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and my girlfriend, Tasha, and her family are coming. This is my first NHL outdoor game and it would have been fun to take in that family skate with them.
It would have been nice to have them be a part of it with us rather than just coming to watch the game. It's still going to be special, but that family skate would have been the cherry on top.
Playing in the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series is something that is very special. I played in an outdoor game when I was 16 with the Regina Pats in Western Hockey League. We played the Calgary Hitmen at McMahon Stadium in Calgary and that was a lot of fun, but you see all outdoor games in the NHL now and it's a big thing.
Video: 2018 Stadium Series time-lapse in Annapolis, Maryland
A lot of teams have played in them and from the pictures I've seen it looks amazing.
When I was growing up in Saskatoon, me and my brother and our friends would go to the outdoor rink and spend hours playing there after school. There were five or six different outdoor rinks in the area. We tried to go where there were fewer people, so it wasn't so crowded and we could do our own thing.
Just being outside on Saturday is going to bring back those memories, but it's going to be different playing outdoors with no snow. Back home there was always a ton of snow.
We'd go play even if it was snowing out. We'd go and battle it out. It tested your hands a bit. Eventually the snow was too much, so we'd shovel it off and throw it over the boards.
That's a big part of it when you're little, shoveling off the snow after you play a game. That's a lot of fun, bringing your own shovels and then walking home with your skates over your shoulder.
Some of those memories will come back on Saturday. The whole aspect of being outside will be great and the NHL does a great job of creating that feel.
This game has been in the back of my head all season. Now that it's here, you want to get going and get out there with all the fans that are going to be there and just take everything in.
At first, I didn't know much about Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but I've seen pictures and some of the guys filled me in about the U.S. Naval Academy. It looks really cool.
The whole night is going to be special and I'm going to try to soak in as much as I can.