Hockey fans and sports fans alike are in for an historic match as the Arizona Coyotes take on the L.A. Kings in the first-ever NHL games to be played in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Coyotes head to Melbourne, Australia this weekend where they will face the Kings in a thrilling two-game series at the iconic Rod Laver Arena, which is known for hosting the Australian Open tennis tournament. The event marks an historic moment for the franchise and its fans as well as achieving new milestone in the NHL’s ongoing efforts to expand its reach to a broader global audience.
The games take place Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23 at 9 p.m. local time, which fans can catch on ESPN+ and the NHL Network.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” says Arizona Coyotes player Jason Zucker in a statement. “We’re fortunate enough to be able to go on a great trip, have a lot of fun doing it, and have a great team bonding aspect along with it.”
The upcoming match in Australia will be the second time that the Arizona Coyotes have played a game in another continent. In 2010, the Coyotes played two regular-season games in Czechia against the Boston Bruins, which helped strengthen the team’s global presence and build international connections. Now, the team gets to make history as they show off their skills in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time before heading back home for the start of the new hockey season.
“Getting down there and having this trip right off the bat, it’s going to be fun for all of us. We’re going to get some good work in,” says Coyotes player Alex Kerfoot in a statement. “It’s unique, where you have the full team together right away. Usually, when you start in these camps, you’re in split groups, so I think we can take advantage of that and get to know everyone really quickly, and it’s up to us with what we do with that time.”
“Just being together in the short period of time together, traveling together, and going through a little bit of adversity with the travel times, I think it’s going to bond us,” added Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong in a statement. “You get to play right away and you get to play a battle-tested L.A. Kings team on the other side, so it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for the group.”
The NHL has a long history of taking the game beyond its traditional North American borders, with the inaugural international matches dating back to 1938 when the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens faced off in the United Kingdom. Over the years, the league has brought the thrill of NHL hockey to fans in 15 different countries through the NHL Global Series, which allows the league to showcase its product to a diverse and passionate ice hockey audience across the globe.
With the most recent Global Series taking place in Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic and Finland, the upcoming Global Series in Australia represents the NHL’s steadfast commitment to expanding its presence beyond the U.S. and Canada as the league breaks into the Southern Hemisphere for the first time.
The Arizona Coyotes are expected to return to the Valley on Monday, September 25th, leaving fans in anticipation for the season home opener on Saturday, October 21.
Tickets to the home opener, as well as more information on the team’s upcoming hockey season are available at www.nhl.com.