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Coyotes beat Kings 5-3 in first NHL preseason game in Australia after solving apparent ice issues

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The National Hockey League’s first preseason game in the Southern Hemisphere went ahead Saturday after officials apparently solved some issues with the quality of the ice at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.

Ahead of Saturday’s Global Series game between the Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes won by the Coyotes 5-3, there were reports and photos on social media of the state of the ice surface — puddles, ruts and uneven coloring of the painted lines.

After a scoreless first period, the teams scored seven goals in the second before Arizona clinched the game with an empty-net goal in the final minute.

A second game between the teams was scheduled for Sunday in the same arena.

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FILE - Fans watch as players warm up prior to the Arizona Coyotes' home-opening NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Oct. 28, 2022. The Coyotes say owner Alex Meruelo has executed a letter of intent to buy a piece of land for a potential arena in Mesa, Arizona. The move comes months after voters in Tempe rejected a referendum to construct an arena there for the NHL club. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

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On Friday, both teams were scheduled to hold an open practice for fans wanting to see NHL “ice” hockey in Australia for the first time. Although the Kings held their practice, the Coyotes were reported to have had to cancel their session.

The NHL was asked for comment.

It’s early spring in Australia and the game-time temperature in Melbourne on Saturday was 16 Celsius, or 61 Fahrenheit.

Many of the players on both teams attended an Australian rules football playoff game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday night with nearly 98,000 fans in attendance.

Rod Laver Arena seats about 15,000 spectators and sellout crowds were expected for the two games. The venue is more well-known as the home of the Australian Open tennis tournament in January, the first Grand Slam event each year.

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