On February 26-27th, 2016 my wife and I attended the Avs/Red Wings outdoor games at the home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team. At first I was skeptical of how hockey would come across in such a big stadium as Coors Field, but I was to discover the two events were very entertaining.
From our travel business we were invited to sit in the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau suite for the weekend. As you can see we were a bit far from the rink in Suite S02 (along the first baseline near the right field foul pole). We were prepared, though, bringing binoculars to view the action. The suite was wonderful, with complementary food and drink and access to all the amenities of the Coors Field club level.
First up - the Avs/Wings Alumni game on Friday night, featuring players from this intense rivalry from 1995-2002. It was fun to see these former star NHL'ers, like the Avs Joe Sakic and the Wings Steve Yzerman competing, and brought back memories of the many great Avs/Wings games I attended in the past. The best player on the ice this night was current Avs coach and former goalie Patrick Roy, who looked to be in top form making several outstanding saves. In fact I thought he played better than the Avs starter in goal for the regular game on Saturday night! (Semyon Varlamov)
I was surprised these old alumni played a full 60 minute game, with 20 minute periods. Though there were some adjustments - like the clock running continuously and penalty shots (as pictured above) on any penalty. Still it was close enough to a real NHL game to be enjoyable, and unlike Saturday night the Avs won!
Any hard feelings between the teams seemed to be forgotten after the game as the Avs/Wings alumni did a handshake line and posed for pictures on the ice.
Time for the real NHL game on Saturday night! We arrived early and I took this stadium shot from behind home plate on the lower level.
While the alumni put on a good show the night before, the pace of the real NHL game was much faster. This game meant something in the standings, too, as both the Avs and Wings are battling to make the playoffs as the season winds down. I found myself more focused on the game, and less on the surroundings, for the real Avs/Wings matchup.
Saturday night featured more than just the game, like this pre-game concert by Andy Grammer, complete with fireworks.
Between periods was another concert, from Denver-based rock band The Fray. I thought the light effects in the outfield were even more spectacular than the fan card show I saw at the Super Bowl earlier in the month. Very creative!
Saturday night ended in disappointment as the Red Wings broke the tie with one minute remaining, and then added an empty net goal to win 5-3. I was hoping to see a 3 on 3 overtime so I was disappointed with the Wings last minute goal. Still the whole weekend was very enjoyable. The outdoor venue was great for a one time special event.