The Naval Academy will host outdoor NHL action at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in March — a first-of-its-kind event for any service academy, but likely not the last.
The Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs will square off March 3 as part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, the league announced Monday. The Naval Academy's news release on the contest described "plans to stage a series of outdoor games at the venues of the other respective U.S. Service Academies" in the coming years.
Those plans haven't been finalized, said Steve Mayer, the NHL's executive vice president and chief content officer.
"But we've made no secret of how interested we are in playing games at both the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs," Mayer said in a statement to Military Times. "We've had productive discussions with both and are focused on reaching formal agreements in the near future."
An Air Force Academy athletics spokesman confirmed preliminary discussions with the NHL. A request for comment from the Army West Point athletics department wasn't immediately returned.
West Point hosted a preseason NHL game in October featuring the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers, a club owned by West Point graduate Vincent Viola. Viola had been nominated to serve as secretary of the Army by President Trump, but the billionaire former major withdrew his name from consideration in February, citing concerns with Pentagon rules regarding business ownership.
Viola's not the only former cadet with a seat at the NHL owners' meetings: Bill Foley, a member of West Point's Class of 1967, officially joins that club later this year, when the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights take the ice.
"We are honored to have the opportunity to play at one of the very best institutions our region, and our country, have to offer," Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis said in the news releases announcing the Capitals-Maple Leafs game.
The March 2018 game marks a role reversal of sorts from a December 2016 service-member showdown at the Verizon Center, the Capitals' home rink, as part of Army-Navy week festivities. A joint Army-Air Force hockey team coached by Gen. Mark Milley, the Army's chief of staff, earned a 5-3 win over a sea-service squad captained by Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the Naval Academy's superintendent.
Both officers played college hockey: Milley at Princeton, Carter at Annapolis. The vice admiral's call sign is "Slapshot."