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The blending of hockey and Hollywood was complete on Saturday as stars came out in droves to watch the first-ever hockey game played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
When asked by The Hollywood Reporter what made this game so special, the Pirates of the Caribbean producer replied simply: “It’s at Dodger Stadium, that’s why.
“It’s outside — playing in the warm weather is different, unique and special, and playing in front of 50,000 fans is cool.”
Saturday’s game was the first of the well-received NHL Winter Series games to be played west of the Mississippi and the southernmost NHL outdoor game in history.
Other famous faces walking the red carpet included Entourage’s Kevin Connolly, Colin Hanks, Lisa Ling, Mob City star Neal McDonough, Parenthood‘s Joy Bryant, Olympic beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, Tom Arnold and Matt Barkley of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Former Roseanne star Arnold couldn’t have been more enthusiastic in his support for the home team. “I love the Kings, I feel like I am part of their support system. I love L.A. When we do things and we care about stuff, we do it better than anybody,” he told THR.
“And the fact that hockey is being played in Dodger Stadium is something that when I moved here 27 years ago I would never have thought humanly possible. It is an honor, it’s fun. I saw the game in Michigan and this is L.A. — this game will be awesome! It is 70 degrees, we care about hockey, we make it 70 degrees instead of 70 below!” he joked.
Along with the stars, the teams’ biggest supporters hit the carpet in furry fabulousness as Kings mascot Bailey (a lion) and the Ducks’ Wild Wing hammed it up for photographers.
In full makeup and sky-high platform boots, KISS delighted both the stars and the press as they strutted down the carpet – towering above petite Charmed star Milano as she tried to keep a straight face during interviews.
The veteran rockers gave a retro twist to the event by performing before the puck was dropped at 7.15 p.m., adding fuel to the already exuberant sellout crowd of 54,000. They also returned during the first intermission to entertain the audience, blasting out their hits as fireworks exploded above Chavez Ravine.
After giving the press the silent treatment on the red carpet to save her voice – only offering hand signals of apology – American Idol winner Jordin Sparks belted out the national anthem to quiet the screaming crowd into a respectful lull.
Hockey legend and former Kings player Wayne Gretzky had been a key proponent of bringing the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series to Los Angeles, and had the honor of dropping the puck, flanked by Dustin Brown of the Kings and Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks.
Earlier, the man who has been called “the greatest hockey player ever,” told reporters why this game meant to much to him, explaining: “This is a great city. I wanted to prove that you can play hockey when it is 50 degrees out – the players are enjoying it, the fans are sitting there in T-shirts and shorts,” said Gretzky. “It shows a different side of our sport.”
When asked if he could ever imagine anything like this growing up, he replied: “Never, but I am proud I was part of it and it is going to be a great night.”
Even South Park character Cartman got to show his crazy fandom by appearing on the Jumbotron before the game started (die-hard viewers will remember the chunky cartoon’s classic quote: “I’m not fat, I just have a sweet hockey body”), chanting, “Go, Kings, go.”
The action started off fast and furious, with Anaheim’s Corey Perry scoring the first goal after just less than three minutes had passed on the clock, and Matt Beleskey following it up with a second for the Ducks shortly afterwards.
As for the warm location for a traditionally cold-weather sport, it didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on the game, with experts saying that it gave a bit more bounce to the puck.
After reaching 80 degrees that afternoon, the game-time temperature was 64 degrees – a dramatic difference from the last game in Ann Arbor, Mich., on New Year’s Day, which was a freezing 13 degrees with a wind chill of zero. Instead of hot chocolate or flasks of whiskey, the crowds in L.A. were knocking back cold beer and ice cream.
No hockey game would be complete without a fight, with a pair of rival players getting into a scuffle that resulted in penalties.
John Ondrasik – aka Five for Fighting and a longtime Kings fan who has written for the team’s website — performed during the second intermission, wearing a team jersey as iconic moments in Kings’ history played on the Jumbotron.
Spotted in a luxury box was Dodgers baseball phenomenon Yasiel Puig, with Matthew Perry, Taylor Lautner, Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Erin Andrews and Kevin Smith also all in the crowd.
Ultimately, it was a win for the NHL and the city of Los Angeles, but the Kings didn’t get their Hollywood ending as the Ducks pulled off a 3-0 win over the home team.
The 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series continued on Sunday with the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils facing off in Yankee Stadium.
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