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NHL to play 1st exhibition games in Australia in September

NHL: New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets

Mar 24, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; The NHL logo is seen on the game net prior to the game between the New York Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL is going down under for the first time, with the Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes set to play in Australia in September.

The trip is the league’s first foray into the Southern Hemisphere.

The Kings and Coyotes will face off in two exhibition games at Rod Laver Arena - center court at the Australian Open tennis tournament - in Melbourne on Sept. 23 and 24. Australia is set to be the fourth continent to host NHL action.

“The Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings are two of our league’s rising young teams and among our most innovative and adventurous franchises,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “We look forward to their two games at Rod Laver Arena and know this history-making visit will thrill our many avid fans in Australia and cause so many more throughout the sports-loving nation to be captivated by our great game.”

The Kings and Coyotes organizations previously each played games outside North America before agreeing to go to Australia.

There is currently one Aussie in the NHL, Nathan Walker of the St. Louis Blues. Signed with the Blues through next season, he said recently he was disappointed they weren’t chosen to participate.

“It’ll be great for the game of hockey,” Walker said. “I hope they can grow it a bit more back home. I know all my buddies back home are pretty pumped to go watch it.”