Devils vs. Rangers: Looking Back At The Stadium Series One Year Ago


One year ago, the New Jersey Devils tangled with the New York Rangers outdoors at Yankee Stadium. This was a part of the NHL’s Stadium Series that featured four outdoor games in three different venues in addition to the year’s Winter Classic which was held at the University of Michigan. There were the two games 161st St. in NY featuring the three metro area teams, a game at Soldier Field in Chicago pitting the Blackhawks against the Penguins and also a game in SoCal where the Kings and Ducks squared off at Dodger Stadium. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of these “once in a lifetime” spectacles and it will certainly be a day I remember for the rest of my life. Here’s a first hand account of that cold January Sunday.

Jan 26, 2014; New York City, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Patrik Elias (26) celebrates with right wing Damien Brunner (12) after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the first period of the Stadium Series hockey game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

First I’m going to start on the Saturday right before the game, January 25th. When I woke up that morning, I still did not have a ticket for the Stadium Series game and it was eating away at me. I needed to go to this game. It was my favorite hockey team, the Devils, playing their biggest rival, the Rangers, in the home of my favorite baseball team, the Yankees. I had been dreaming of this exact matchup for years since the NHL began playing annual outdoor games in 2008. I was just hoping the Devils would get one before Martin Brodeur retired (or left the team) and they finally had. Somehow, some way I was going to that game. My buddy Pete and I were intent on finding tickets, but the prices on StubHub were just simply too much. I went back and forth about spending a significant amount of money on a game and I was about to give in when a gift from a higher power was bestowed upon me.

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I refreshed StubHub and there was a group of tickets priced at $16. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I ran across the hall – I was living at school at the time – and knocked vigorously on Pete’s door. I told him the news and we jumped on those tickets. I don’t know who sold us those tickets, but I want to say thank you. We were now officially going to the Stadium Series! Later that night I watched the game played at Dodger Stadium and it only made me want to go more. The next morning I put on ten layers of clothes, but sadly that still wouldn’t be enough. Pete and I made our way to the train station and everything seemed like it was going perfect.

Unfortunately, nothing in life ever seems to go according to plan. As we waited on the Subway platform to catch a ride to go pick up our tickets, I noticed my phone had a voicemail. I had the smallest of signals so I listened to my father’s voice on the other end of the phone. My heart sunk and I nearly crumpled to the ground then and there. My puppy, who had been in my life since 1996 had just passed away. I never had a chance to say goodbye. It was truly one of the toughest moments of my entire life. Part of me wanted to just go home and cry, but I pushed on and figured the best way to clear my head was to watch some hockey.

Jan 26, 2014; New York City, NY, USA; A general view during the first period of the Stadium Series hockey game between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Pete and I made it to Yankee Stadium and it was nothing I’d ever felt before. I’ve been to Yankee Stadium, both of them, numerous times but this was something completely different. Looking out at the field, covered in snow with a perfect ice rink in the middle of the diamond was a beautiful sight. We made our way to the upper deck and waited for the puck to drop. After a little weather delay, the festivities began. The Devils made their way onto the ice as did the Rangers and the game was underway.

Patrik Elias got the Devils on the board with a breakaway and then added a power play tally after Dominic Moore knotted the score at one. Then Travis Zajac would make it 3-1, but with the kind of day I was having, naturally I would be in the bathroom when my favorite player scored. That was it. The Devils won 3-1 and it was a great game played by the Devils. I wish I could say that without my nose growing two feet, but I can’t. After Zajac scored that goal, the Rangers would reel off six straight and win the game 7-3. I had to sit there, along with every other Devils’ fan in the stadium, half of my body frozen and numb to watch the team I love get trounced by the team I hate. I really couldn’t believe my day actually got worse.

So there it is, a day I will never forget. With all the negativity that came out of that day, there will always be that unforgettable fact that I got to watch my favorite hockey team play a meaningful game outdoors at a historic baseball stadium with 50,000 other people. I was depressed and frozen, but it was still something I will probably never have another chance to do. Will the Devils ever have another outdoor game? Most likely. Will it be at Yankee Stadium against the Rangers? Probably not.

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