The NHL will play an outdoor game at a U.S. service academy for the first time when the Washington Capitals host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, next season.
Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday that the Capitals and Maple Leafs will meet March 3 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the league had not announced the event.
The 34,000-seat stadium hosts Navy football games and the Military Bowl.
It’s the first game at a service academy though quite possibly not the last. The league has explored doing games at the Army’s home at West Point and at the Air Force Academy.
The New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers played a preseason indoor game at West Point on Oct. 8, 2016. Panthers owner Vinnie Viola and expansion Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley have Army ties.
This is the third outdoor game for the Capitals and Maple Leafs and the first in the Washington area since the 2015 Winter Classic downtown at Nationals Park.
Capitals-Maple Leafs at the Naval Academy will be one of at least three outdoor games next season. The Ottawa Senators will host the Montreal Canadiens in the Heritage Classic on Dec. 19, and the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres will play in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Citi Field in New York.
NHL Network revealed on air that the league would announce a game at Navy on Monday. In addition to being Memorial Day, it’s the day commissioner Gary Bettman gives his state of the league address prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins.
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press