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The Battle of New York Goes Outdoors…In New Jersey

Courtesy of @nyrangers on Instagram

New York’s most intense rivalry was put on the biggest stage in February. The New York Rangers and New York Islanders played in the second of two games that were part of the 2024 Stadium Series held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

And I was lucky enough to be there. Courtesy of Breanna Ebisch

This wasn’t my first outdoor NHL game as I got to attend the 2018 Winter Classic where the Rangers played the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field. But it had been six years since that cold, yet unforgettable contest, so my excitement about the Stadium Series was through the roof. I bundled up for the chilly weather, put on my favorite Rangers jersey and 

Over 79,000 fans filled MetLife on Sunday, Feb. 18 to see the famous Rangers and Islanders rivalry in an outdoor setting for only the second time ever. These two teams had previously met in the 2014 Stadium Series at Yankee Stadium where the Blueshirts pulled out a 2-1 win. Over a decade later, fans young and old couldn’t wait to see their favorite teams play the way hockey was meant to be played: outdoors.

Courtesy of Breanna Ebisch

The atmosphere was nothing short of electric. From the constant “Let’s go Rangers!” and “Let’s go Islanders!” chants to loud celebrations whenever either goal horn went off and fans joined in on the accompanying goal song/cheer, the entire game was riveting and an incredible experience.

Two New York hockey legends, Mark Messier and Bryan Trottier, were part of the ceremonial puck drop and the action started shortly after with a fight, featuring Rangers rookie Matt Rempe who was playing in his first career game, that got both teams going. The Islanders had complete dominance in this contest from the beginning though. The first period ended with a score of 3-1 in favor of the Isles and the tension could be felt in the cold air with each passing minute. But after the Islanders made it 4-1, the Rangers took over and the rest is history.

In the end, the Rangers made an unbelievable comeback to send the game to overtime and then take home the win thanks to Artemi Panarin scoring the overtime game winner just 10 seconds into the extra frame. But the celebration for both the goal and Stadium Series victory had to wait a few more minutes because the goal had to be reviewed. The whole stadium went dead silent to hear the referee give the final decision on what would determine a winner. When the announcement came that it was, in fact, a good goal, MetLife Stadium erupted into the most loud, triumphant cheers ever.

The Stadium Series was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am beyond grateful I got to be there for. From meeting many fans of both teams to getting to watch hockey on such a huge outdoor stage to all the different festivities that occurred before and during the game, it was simply unforgettable. 

I think it would be incredible to see MetLife host an outdoor NHL game every season, whether it be between the Rangers and Islanders again or the other heated rivalry in the metropolitan area, the Rangers and Devils. If you ever have the chance to see a live hockey game played outdoors, I can’t recommend it enough! It’s like nothing else and is even more proof that this sport is easily the most exciting for a wide variety of reasons.

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