After the NHL Stadium Series clash between the Avalanche and Kings and the Faceoff at Falcon Stadium between Colorado College and Air Force, one more outdoor hockey game was added to the docket.
Pine Creek and Lewis-Palmer will face off on the Air Force Academy’s outdoor rink at Falcon Stadium at 8 p.m. Feb. 18, according to multiple sources.
The process began as soon as the Stadium Series game was announced. Lewis-Palmer coach Scott Bradley hoped it would be an opportunity for the NHL to grow the game through local youth and high school programs.
With that in mind, Bradley said Lewis-Palmer is working with the NHL to make it a free event for the community.
“It’s a super exciting opportunity for the teams, but also the community,” Bradley said, though the details of the open gate are still being worked out with the NHL. “We wanted it to be open for anyone who didn’t get a chance to see the Avs or Air Force play to come and see a great high school game.”
Doors to Falcon Stadium will open at 7 p.m. with free admittance to all fans. All seating will be general admission.
Lewis-Palmer was scheduled to host Pine Creek at Monument Ice Arena on Saturday but an idea was sparked once the Stadium Series dates were announced.
“We knew we would be playing each other that Saturday and we started thinking about (playing a high school game), and brought it up to different people,” Pine Creek hockey coach Ed Saxer said. “It was a great idea, really with no legs, but Scott Bradley did 95 percent of the work.”
Bradley said he had a great resource in Jason Schofield, the director of amateur hockey development with the Avalanche.
“We made a few calls and Jason coordinated everything with the NHL and timing worked out perfectly,” Bradley said. “We are really blessed with the opportunity. We'd like to thank the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche and the United States Air Force Academy for allowing this event to happen.”
Bradley said his staff surprised his team with the news after a big overtime win versus Colorado Academy on Saturday night.
“We scored a last-second goal in overtime, and we get into the locker room and the guys have no idea,” Bradley said. “We got to surprise them and they were so stoked."
Saxer and Bradley have deep connections to Air Force hockey. Saxer is a former Air Force assistant, and coached Bradley when he was a senior captain for the Falcons.
“It’s quite an opportunity,” Saxer said. “Everyone was pretty excited when we told them yesterday. It’s going to be awfully cold, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We want the kids to enjoy themselves because it’s something they’ll talk about for the rest of their lives.”
Pine Creek (13-0-2) is the top-scoring team in the state, averaging more than six goals per game. Lewis-Palmer has rebounded from an 0-3 start and is second behind the Eagles in the Summit Conference at 5-2-1.
“It’s going to be a totally new atmosphere, a totally new environment and the players are going to love it,” Bradley said. “We’re going to play a really great team in Pine Creek, and I think they’re excited for the challenge and I think our guys will step up to the opportunity.”