Hockey Weekend Across America
Hockey Weekend Across America is an annual event devised by USA Hockey to promote the game of ice hockey in the United States. The fourth annual Weekend took place February 18–20, 2011, and was sponsored by Reebok. The weekend was capped by "Hockey Day in America", with national broadcasts of National Hockey League games on the NBC television network.
In 2011, each day of the three-day event had a particular theme. Friday was "Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey Day". Saturday, "Bring a Friend to the Rink Day", featured a number of "Try Hockey for Free" clinics throughout the country. Sunday was "Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes Day".
Four NHL games were broadcast on NBC on Sunday. The first three were regional games broadcast to specific regions of the country: Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers, and Detroit Red Wings at Minnesota Wild. The fourth game, Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks, was broadcast nationally.
Coincidentally, in neighboring Canada, there were also significant hockey celebrations that weekend, associated with the 2011 Heritage Classic held the same day as Hockey Day in America. The two events were unrelated, but the NHL scheduled the Sunday games so that the regional doubleheader led into the Heritage Classic, forming a tripleheader.
The American Hockey League held the "Whale Bowl," the second annual installment of its outdoor game series, on the Saturday of the same weekend. The Providence Bruins defeated the host team Connecticut Whale 5-4 in a shootout in front of 15,234 fans at Rentschler Field. Included in the same set of festivities were two other outdoor game, one involving college hockey teams and another an alumni game featuring former members of the Boston Bruins and Hartford Whalers, the namesakes of the two teams participating in the Whale Bowl.
Hockey Weekend Across America followed a similar format for 2012. Hockey Day in America, held February 19, featured the Sabres hosting the Penguins, the Red Wings hosting the San Jose Sharks, and the Blackhawks hosting the St. Louis Blues in the regional action; the Wild hosted the Bruins in the nationally televised afternoon game, while the New Jersey Devils traveled to face the Montreal Canadiens in the nightcap on NBC Sports Network. Coverage was headquartered at Landmark Plaza in St. Paul, Minnesota. The TV coverage earned the highest ratings for a non-Winter Classic regular season game since NBC took over the broadcast contract.
All 30 AHL teams played on February 19, but no outdoor games were scheduled at any level.
The 2013 Hockey Day in America featured three nationally televised games: Pittsburgh at Buffalo, the Los Angeles Kings at Chicago, and Washington at the NY Rangers. NBC headquartered its coverage from Wollman Rink in New York City.
The 2014 Hockey Weekend Across America is scheduled to be later than previous years due to the Winter Olympic hockey tournament in mid-February. Festivities will include the closing game in the NHL Stadium Series.