Take it outside, boys

Robin Short
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Clowe and Ryder set to play hockey at Yankee Stadium as Devils meet Rangers

Bronx, N.Y. — These NHL outdoor games may be old hat to Michael Ryder now, but the veteran New Jersey Devils right-winger continues to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the league’s showcase events.

Ryder and fellow Newfoundlander Ryane Clowe hope to make a big hit today at Yankee Stadium as the NHL’s ‘Stadium Series’ continues with a Devils-New York Rangers game 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon (NL time, Hockey Night in Canada).

Ryder and Clowe signed as free agents with New Jersey last summer and now find themselves on the same line with centre Adam Henrique.

Sunday’s game the second of five ‘Stadium Series’ matchups slated this season. The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks play Saturday night at Dodger Stadium in L.A., and the Rangers and New York Islanders are slated to meet Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

On March 1, the Chicago Blackhawks play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field, and the next day, the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks hook up at Vancouver’s B.C. Place.

On New Year’s Day, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings met at the University of Michigan Stadium.

For Ryder, the Newfoundlander with the most all-time NHL games (729 entering Sunday) and most NHL goals and points (229 goals, 228 assists, 457 points), today’s clash with the Rangers in the South Bronx is the third outdoor game in which he’s played.

Ryder was a member of the Montreal Canadiens when they played the Edmonton Oilers in the 2003 Heritage Classic in Edmonton, and skated on the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park as a Boston Bruin in the 2010 Winter Classic which pitted the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.

“Not many people can say they’ve played in a Winter Classic, let alone three (outdoor games),” said the 33-year-old Bonavista product, after the Devils skated Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

“I’m pretty lucky.”

Before practice, the Devils’ players, coaches and staff gathered for a team photo. Afterwards, New Jersey staged a spirited team workout.

“Today was the day to take it all in, the atmosphere and everything, and the experience with friends and family,” Ryder said.

“Tomorrow is another hockey game, and a big two points.”

Unlike Clowe, who is a big baseball fan, Ryder doesn’t the follow the game much. He wasn’t certain when the new Yankee Stadium opened (2009), across the street from the footprint where Babe Ruth hit his way into history, Lou Gehrig delivered his famous speech, where the M&M Boys – Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris – lit up the opposition, where Reggie Jackson delivered famous playoff performances and where Derek Jeter has stamped a Hall of Fame career.

“Fenway Park was a different ball park, certainly older. But the Red Sox and Yankees, they’re historic teams and it was pretty neat playing at Fenway, and it will be pretty neat playing here,” Ryder said.

Ryder doesn’t expect the cold to have too much of an impact on the game – he played in Edmonton in late November, remember? – but does admit the ice tends to get snowy and chipped up a bit.

“But it’s good, hard ice,” he said.

As for Clowe, he’s a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants, having watched the team quite a bit when he was playing for the nearby San Jose Sharks – “but when I first got to San Jose, they were really bad, so no one can say I jumped on the bandwagon.”

Clowe, a 31-year-old left-winger originally from Fermeuse, watched quite a few Giants post-season and World Series games at AT&T Park, got to know a few San Francisco players and has seen a few games at Yankee Stadium since his trade to the Rangers last year.

“So yes, this is extra special for me,” he said.

The Devils are using the New York Yankees clubhouse Saturday and Sunday and the players are all taken back by a) the size of the dressing room and b) how, well, plush the Yankees’ digs are.

“And when you look around, and see all the pictures on the walls, it’s extra special using this clubhouse,” Clowe said.

“I read a lot of baseball books and I’ve seen a lot of documentaries on Mickey Mantle. He’s in a lot of pictures on the wall – there’s one of him and Babe Ruth – which kind of blew my mind.

“Yes, this is very special.”

Both Clowe and Ryder have held a hot hand of late.

Clowe has three goals and seven assists in his last 10 games, while Ryder has four goals and two assists. Four of Ryder’s goals came in consecutive games.

Ryder is tired for third in Devils scoring with 16 goals and 10 assists, while Clowe has three goals and nine helpers in 20 games. The rugged forward missed 32 games with a concussion.

The Devils, 2-1 winners over the Washington Capitals Friday night, are riding a modest three-game win streak. The Rangers have lost two in a row.



Organizations: Rangers, NHL, Stadium Series New Jersey Devils Los Angeles Kings New York Yankees New York Islanders Chicago Blackhawks Pittsburgh Penguins Ottawa Senators Vancouver Canucks Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings University of Michigan Stadium Montreal Canadiens Edmonton Oilers Boston Bruin Philadelphia Flyers MM Boys Red Sox San Francisco Giants San Jose Sharks Washington Capitals

Geographic location: Yankee Stadium, New Jersey, Bronx, N.Y. Canada Edmonton Fenway Park Dodger Stadium Vancouver South Bronx San Jose Fermeuse San Francisco

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