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NHL Eyes Future Outdoor Games at U.S. Service Academies

National Hockey League

Over the coming years, the NHL could stage more regular-season games at U.S. service academies, building on an initiative that began this season. 

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD hosted Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series, which saw the Washington Capitals take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. While the Stadium Series has been a staple of the NHL’s regular-season slate for several years, the 2018 edition marked the first time that the league staged a regular-season outdoor game at a U.S. service academy.

All signs point to the NHL playing another regular-season outdoor game at a U.S. service academy down the road. While no official announcements have been made and it could be a few seasons before another game is played at a U.S. service academy venue, league officials indicate that it is something the NHL will explore in the future. More from the AP:

It’s a significant foray into honoring and partnering with branches of the military that follows the lead of the NFL and Major League Baseball for a league that’s split between the United States and Canada.

“It’s unique and as we continue to move forward with the outdoor games, you look for new concepts and new themes and new things that’ll interest the fans,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press on Saturday. “Certainly the hope is, with a successful game (at Navy), we’ll continue the venture with the Army and the Air Force and we’ll see where we go from there.”

Daly said he’d be surprised if the sequel to Maple Leafs-Capitals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium comes as soon as the 2018-19 season, though 2019-20 is a possibility. The Florida Panthers faced the New Jersey Devils inside in an exhibition game at West Point’s Tate Rink in 2006, and ownership connections to the Army make the Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights strong candidates for a potential outdoor game there.

Saturday’s game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium drew a reported attendance figure of 29,516.

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