The National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings had a successful final tune-up for the regular season, edging past the host Hamburg Freezers, 5-4, in an exhibition match.
The Kings left for Sweden right after Tuesday night’s game in Germany to prepare for their regular-season opener Friday in Stockholm against the New York Rangers. On Saturday, the Kings return to Germany to face the Buffalo Sabres in Berlin.
The NHL is truly a global League with approximately 25 percent of the leagues players this season having been born outside of North America. The NHL continues to try to grow the game around the world, and these games in Europe are an important part of that effort. NHL Players Association Executive Director, Don Fehr, said it’s exciting to bring hockey to European fans in their home markets “where they can watch players from their home countries play with and against the best in the world.”
The Kings started strong in their match against Hamburg, with Justin Williams scoring in the first minute of the game. Some fans wondered if it was going to be a one-sided game dominated by Los Angeles. However, after a slow start the Freezers came back when Serge Aubin, who played 374 NHL games for Columbus, Colorado and Atlanta, gave Hamburg a 3-2 lead in the second period.
"The Freezers played with great speed and generated good passes", said Kings coach Terry Murray. He was impressed at the level of play and talent here in Germany.
Hamburg Freezers Captain Christoph Schubert talks to reporters after the game
Even though the Freezers lost, team captain Christoph Schubert said "it's a thrill to play against an NHL team. Honestly speaking, it is probably every hockey player's dream to play in the NHL. To do that here in Germany, in front of our own fans, is simply a fantastic opportunity and we gave it our best shot tonight!"
Even though that wasn't enough for the win, there were still more goals to be scored on the night. LA's Ethan Moreau pushed the Kings’ to a 5-3 lead in the third period, and just as the clock was winding down, Schubert, a former NHL player, gave the home fans reason to cheer when he brought the Freezers back within a goal. In a country where soccer, (or football as the locals call it) is the dominate sport, this exhibition game was a great chance for the NHL to gain new fans in Europe. When the Sabres and Kings play in Berlin on October 8, it will mark the first-ever NHL regular-season game played in Germany.
See more of Dave's photos from the game