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Stadium Series totally cool in Dodger Stadium

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- A live performance by the group KISS. Celebrities ranging from Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, who dropped the celebratory first puck, to Los Angeles Dodger sensation Yasiel Puig, who hung out in a suite with legendary personalities Tommy Lasorda and Fernando Valenzuela.

Speaking of legends, there goes Vin Scully and Bob Miller. Beach volleyball being played in left field. Many folks decked out in shorts and tank tops.

Just another day in southern California.

"When people say Californians are laid-back, I think they were pretty into it tonight," Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.

While bone-chilling temperatures and heavy snowfall blanketed the East Coast, hockey fans in LA were into 70-degree weather and a variety of entertainment before the Los Angeles Kings and the Ducks squared off in the Stadium Series, the first outdoor hockey game on the West Coast.

"We couldn't be more pleased with how the evening went," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said after the Ducks' 3-0 victory over the Kings. "It's as if it was scripted in Hollywood, which I guess is only appropriate based on where we are. It was fun, it was unique, it was entertaining."

Bettman and a sometimes raucous crowd of 54,099 watched the Ducks deal host Los Angeles its fifth consecutive defeat. Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller was the big man on campus, stopping all 36 shots he faced.

Anaheim posted its second win in three days over its area rival, this one coming on the heels of a 2-1 decision by the Ducks on Thursday night in Anaheim.

But the atmosphere Saturday was much more electric.

"I thought the energy was fabulous," Boudreau said. "Players couldn't even hear me 5 feet from me."

Some on the East Coast mocked the idea of the Stadium Series being played on the West Coast. Some of it was because of southern California's warm weather and concerns the high temperatures would reduce the quality of the ice. However, there were practically no problems with the ice, according to players and coaches.

And with the quality performances of the NHL-leading Ducks and the Kings this season, Bettman said it only enhanced perceptions, among himself and die-hard hockey fans, of the competitive play out west.

"There's a great rivalry between the Kings and Ducks," he said. "Obviously, hockey is alive and well in southern California. We're absolutely thrilled."

Still, Bettman refused to say when or if the series would return.

"As good as we feel about things, we need more than five minutes to take a breath," Bettman said. "But clearly what was accomplished tonight gives an opportunity to reflect on all of the possibilities. And we're excited about that."

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