ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Salutes are a way of life at the U.S. Naval Academy, but the lengthy salute to the military, and to outdoor hockey, on Saturday was special even by those standards.
From the moment the midshipmen paraded into the bowl of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to start the festivities prior to the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series between the Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the military presence was constant.
The midshipmen, led by the U.S. Naval Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, took stations along the rails of the makeshift flight deck hosting the playing surface, an homage to the tradition of "manning the rails," which sailors do as ships enter a port after a long voyage.
The Maple Leafs entered while being fronted by the 2nd Canadian Mechanized Bridge Group Pipes and Drums, and the Capitals were marched out by members of the Naval Academy Pipes and Drums.
While the national anthems were performed, members of the Naval Academy men's and women's hockey teams unfurled the Canadian and American flags on the ice.
The Canadian anthem was sung by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brad Davidge, and the American anthem was performed by Midshipman 2nd Class Lael Sommer.
Video: TOR@WSH: Brad Davidge sings Canadian National Anthem
Video: TOR@WSH: Lael Sommer sings the Star Spangled Banner
As Sommer finished, accompanied by fireworks, two Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets piloted by the World Famous Fighting Blacklions of Strike Fighter Squadron 213, based out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia, executed a flyover of the stadium.
To conclude the ceremony, members of the U.S. men's curling team, which won America's first gold medal in the sport last month at the PyeongChang Olympics, put the puck for the opening face-off on a curling stone and slid it from between the face-off circles in the Toronto zone onto the face-off dot at center ice, receiving a standing ovation.
Video: Military officers, US men's curling team honored
Video: Fireworks light the sky at the Stadium Series