Outdoor hockey is returning to California, and some big names are taking part.
The Bakersfield Condors announced Tuesday that Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille will be captains for two teams comprised of National Hockey League (NHL) alumni and various celebrities, in an outdoor game to be played on Friday, January 6 at Bakersfield College's Memorial Stadium.
The alumni-celebrity game will get under way a night prior to the Three-Way Chevrolet Condorstown Outdoor Classic presented by Mission Bank. That game will have the Bakersfield Condors face the Ontario Reign - the Los Angeles Kings' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate - on Saturday, January 7 at 6 p.m. Fans that purchase a ticket to the annual Outdoor Classic will also have access to the alumni-celebrity match.
Gretzky, who was integral to growing the game in The Golden State, remarked on the significance of the event.
"The success of the (California) NHL clubs has been very positive, but the American Hockey League teams in cities like Bakersfield and Ontario have elevated the sport that much higher and made it even more popular," Gretzky said. "It's great to see a city like Bakersfield with people who are excited about watching hockey and have gravitated to these players that one day will play in the National Hockey League."
For Robitaille, it's about exposing hockey to a larger audience.
"This will bring new fans who may have seen only one or two hockey games, or maybe have never seen a hockey game," he said. "They'll go see it (the Alumni Game and the Outdoor Classic) and it is a lot of fun to be part of it. That's why we do this. To bring new people and give them an opportunity to enjoy the game that we love."
Tickets for the Outdoor Classic can be purchased online or by calling the Condors' front office at 324-PUCK (7825).