Bright sun, poor ice delay outdoor NHL game at Lake Tahoe

Golden Knights Avalanche Hockey Lake Tahoe
Posted at 5:44 PM, Feb 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-20 17:44:07-05

STATELINE, Nev. (AP) — The setting was spectacular but the ice conditions were far from it, leading to an extended delay between the first and second period of the outdoor game between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche at Lake Tahoe.

The NHL decided to halt the game for more than eight hours on Saturday after bright sun led to poor ice conditions that had players and officials repeatedly falling because of holes on the ice.

“We concluded after consulting with our ice makers and both teams that we didn’t think it was safe or appropriate to continue this game at this time,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told broadcaster NBC.

The game was halted after the first period at 12:55 p.m. PST and Bettman said the plan is to play the final two periods starting at 9 p.m. PST.

Bettman said some players wanted to keep playing while others didn’t, but the final decision was made in consultation with the union because of safety.

“It’s probably a good decision they moved it to tonight,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said on NBC. “We’ll be ready to go.”

Crews were working on the ice just before the opening faceoff and issues kept cropping up throughout the period.

The ice took away from the spectacular setting for the game, which is being played on a makeshift rink on the 18th fairway of a golf course on the shore of Lake Tahoe, with snow-covered mountains in the background.

It snowed overnight and into the morning before the sun came out and caused problems the NHL couldn’t deal with.

“We’ve done over 30 (outdoor) games and we never had a problem quite like this,” Bettman said. “We played in rain, we played in snow. Sunshine has always been our enemy. We’ve postponed and delayed games because of sun glare.”

The Avalanche led the game 1-0 on a goal by Samuel Girard.

The NHL announced that Sunday’s game between Boston and Philadelphia will be moved back by more than five hours to avoid the bright sunshine that is causing issues for the first game this weekend.

The game at Edgewood Tahoe Resort will now start at 4:30 p.m. PST. It had originally been scheduled for a noon local start and then was moved back to 11 a.m. earlier in the week because of the forecast.

The game also was moved from NBC to NBCSN, with the New Jersey Devils-Washington Capitals game previously scheduled for 7 p.m. EST now being changed to 2 p.m. and being broadcast on NBC.

Both teams were unable to practice on the specially built outdoor rink before Saturday’s Vegas-Colorado game because of the ice conditions. They were forced to go to a local indoor rink instead.

“In this game, you have to learn how to adapt,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said.