To be an NHL fan in Australia is admittedly tricky, with games tending to start at the time we’re mostly heading off to work. But for one weekend in September, the world’s most famous ice hockey league is coming to us, as the NHL Global Series heads to Melbourne on September 23 & 24, with a pair of preseason games at Rod Laver Arena. Honestly, where better to hold a pair of ice hockey contests than in our sports-mad city?
This marks the first time that NHL games will ever be held in the Southern Hemisphere, making it a big occasion for hockey obsessives like me. Whilst the NHL routinely visits Europe, and has played games in China, Japan, and the UK before, Australia has never hosted NHL teams – so it’s definitely one for the diary if you follow the league. Taking to the ice will be the two-time Stanley Cup champions the Los Angeles Kings, and the Arizona Coyotes, who could boast the next hockey superstar in young phenom Connor Bedard by the time the games roll around.
Australian representation in the league is limited to just one player at the moment – St Louis’ Nathan Walker – but the hope is that the appearance of two talent-laden teams Down Under will inspire more Aussies to lace up their skates and aim for the NHL. League commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement “this history-making visit will thrill our many avid fans in Australia and cause so many more throughout the sports-loving nation to be captivated by our great game”. Well, he isn’t wrong about the ‘sports-mad’ part, but with the AFL finals set for September, LA & Arizona might face a little competition for attention.
Tickets for the games are set to go on sale on April 17, and if you’re brand new to the sport but want to get involved, there’s plenty of time to pick your team, develop a tribal loyalty to them, and be ready to go for the opening faceoff. You can stay up to date with ticket info and more from the NHL website.