STATELINE — The weather conditions play a factor in any outdoor hockey game, but the Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche will be dealing with more than the cold and wind.
Saturday’s game on the 18th fairway at Edgewood Tahoe Resort golf course takes place at 6,224 feet above sea level, the second-highest elevation for an NHL regular-season outdoor game.
The highest was last year’s Stadium Series game in Air Force Academy, Colorado, between the Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings at 6,621 feet.
That was one of the many features that stood out to the Knights during their practice Friday near the shores of Lake Tahoe.
“You don’t realize the altitude you’re at here and dealing with that, running out of breath quickly, oxygen, stuff like that,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s a factor here, too.”
The Knights prepared for one of the elements they will face by wearing eye black during practice to shield the bright sun reflecting off the ice.
They will have a harder time dealing with the wind gusts, which increased as the practice went on. During the afternoon, it was breezy enough around town to blow off a hat and send it tumbling down the sidewalk.
The weather forecast at opening faceoff is for a pleasant 33 degrees with winds at 6 mph.
“Obviously it was going to be a little different conditions,” right wing Reilly Smith said. “The ice is going to be a little sticky and not as fast as what we’re used to. But it’s a pretty picturesque event, and we’re all pretty excited to be out here.”
Polar bear club
With the shores of Lake Tahoe mere yards from the rink, it’s only natural that someone would consider taking a plunge in the frigid water, right?
DeBoer revealed that the Knights are trying to get one of their strength and conditioning coaches to go for a swim. The team wouldn’t say which coach.
“I’m sure he’d do it if we raised enough money,” Smith said. “It shouldn’t take too much. I’m pretty certain we’ll end up seeing him jump in there sooner or later.”
Smith said he might be willing to hop in Friday since the weather was mild and there was no snow falling. Captain Mark Stone also predicted the coach will eventually jump into the water.
“Maybe we’ll creep down here at night when the sun goes down,” Stone said.
Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard was cleared from the NHL’s COVID protocol and is eligible to play Saturday.
The Avalanche also are expected to welcome back captain Gabriel Landeskog, who didn’t play in the first two games of the four-game series because of the COVID protocol.
Defenseman Cale Makar remains a game-time decision, coach Jared Bednar said.
“Obviously you’re going to have to key on those guys a little bit more,” Stone said. “They’re going to get a jump from that.”