Sissons looks forward to Predators taking on Lightning in the 2022 NHL Stadium Series
NASHVILLE — The Navy Federal Credit Union’s 2022 NHL Stadium Series between the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning is just 10 days away and Colton Sissons said he can’t wait.
The Predators’ forward and teammate Michael Granlund were at Nissan Stadium on Wednesday and watched the teams prepare the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for the game on February 26 (7:30 p.m. ET; TNT, SN360, TVAS2, NHL LIVE).
“We’ve been looking forward to this for so long and now it’s finally here,” said Sissons. “Our families are going to be flocking to town, and friends and stuff, and everyone’s so excited. It will be an amazing experience to have an outdoor game in our backyard.”
The game will mark another hockey milestone for Nashville in recent years. It was the site of the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, the city’s first ever, and the Predators reached their first Stanley Cup Finals in 2017. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Predators in six games, but the three games were played In Nashville, tens of thousands of fans packed the streets around the Bridgestone Arena in a huge outdoor celebration.
“We’ve had a lot of cool events to raise the energy level around hockey and build our fan base,” Sissons said. “It’s at a tremendous level now. That’s kind of the next step, another feather in the Nashville hockey cap.”
Sissons has never played an outdoor game professionally, although he said he played outdoors a few times growing up in North Vancouver, British Columbia. He missed the 2020 NHL Winter Classic with the Predators due to a lower body injury. Nashville lost 4-2 to the Dallas Stars at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
Granlund is a veteran when it comes to outdoor play. The forward played two outdoor games in his native Finland and two of them in the NHL at the beginning of his professional career. The first was the 2016 Stadium Series at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis when Granlund and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1. He also played with the Predators in the 2020 Winter Classic.
“These are always special events,” said Granlund. “As a kid, when you grow up, you skate on outdoor ice rinks. That’s pretty much how we all grew up, and that’s one of the best things about your childhood when you could go out and just hang out, meet friends and play hockey. Kind of reminds me of that. You can play outside, have fresh air. It’s really exciting and I’m really looking forward to it.”
It will be the second outdoor NHL game played in a southern city in the league, following the 2020 Winter Classic. The Carolina Hurricanes will host the 2023 Stadium Series at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC next February against an opponent to be announced.
“I think our game will draw a lot of people, not just from the Nashville area, but others from the surrounding states and Southerners who may not even be the biggest hockey fans,” Sissons said. “Hopefully it will bring more fans to the game, more fans to [Predators]. … It will be so much fun. People will come from all walks of life to see an outdoor hockey game, so it’s going to be cool.”
Forecasts call for highs in the low 50s on February 26, but temperatures should be cooler by game time. When Granlund played in the 2016 Stadium Series, the temperature was 35 degrees.
“It was pretty cold,” Granlund said. “So it’s something completely different. But at the same time you just go out and play hockey, try to have fun.”
He said he’s looking forward to experiencing outdoor hockey again.
“I’m sure there will be a real bang here,” said Granlund. “It’s going to be loud and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”