The sporting world melted down over stunning scenes at Lake Tahoe on Saturday as the NHL attempted to hold its first-ever game outdoors.
Unfortunately for players and fans, the ice also melted down under the bright sunshine.
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The finish to the NHL Outdoors game between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche was postponed nearly eight hours due to player safety issues.
Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard opened the scoring only three minutes into the contest, but the game had to be halted after the first period.
With the Avalanche ahead 1-0, sunshine melted the ice and caused poor skating conditions and posed too great a risk of injury.
“We concluded after consulting with our ice-makers and both teams that we didn’t think it was safe and appropriate to continue playing this game at this time,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
The second period start was pushed back nearly eight hours to 9pm local time.
Before the postponement, fans flocked to social media in awe of the mind-blowing scenes.
It’s even more beautiful in person
— Danett Michelini (@DanettM) February 20, 2021
Only place I’ve ever been that can’t be done justice in any photos. There’s a reason they named the ski resort Heavenly.
— Jeff Kent’s Lonely Unwashed Pickup Truck (@FiddySicks) February 20, 2021
NHL makes history with first outdoors game
A special rink was assembled on the 18th hole of a lakeside golf course to create the unique atmosphere, with mountains in the background and boaters watching on the water a short walk away.
However no spectators were allowed on site due to COVID-19.
The matchup was the first of a double-header that concludes on Sunday with the Boston Bruins facing the Philadelphia Flyers, their start being delayed to Sunday night.
“We’ve done more than 30 outdoor games. This has been the most difficult weather circumstance we’ve had and it’s a beautiful day,” said Bettman. “We knew unabated sunshine was a problem.”
Bettman said players were divided over returning to play as planned or waiting.
“You’ve got to do the prudent thing,” he said. “We’re all disappointed. You can’t have success if you don’t risk failure.”
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, a Swedish left winger, said Colorado was ready to keep going but it was probably wiser to wait and resume under the lights.
“That first period was the way it was but some places were slushy,” he said. “We were ready to go out. We wanted to go out, but it’s probably for the best.
“We’ll take it in stride and try to pick up where we left off. It’ll be one to remember for sure.”
Colorado played in “throwback” uniforms featuring the logo of the Quebec Nordiques, the identity of the club before it moved from Canada to Denver in 1995.
Two outdoor games originally planned for 2021 were scrapped because of the pandemic.
St Louis was to have played Minnesota at Target Field baseball park in Minneapolis on January 1 and the Carolina Hurricanes were to have hosted a game at a college football stadium on Saturday.
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