Far more Norwegians showed up for an unusual charity ice hockey match at Oslo’s Ullevaal Stadium over the weekend than normally show up for the football matches normally held there. They were drawn by Norwegian hockey star Mats Zuccarello and other top players from the NHL.
“It’s fantastic to see so many people here,” Zuccarello told the more than 20,000 cheering fans on another warm day in Oslo that followed a major storm during the night. It was the first time ice hockey has ever been played at Ullevaal, which serves as Norway’s national football arena.
Zuccarello and Swedish superstar Henrik Lundqvist had each assembled a team for a showdown to raise money for Zuccarello’s charitable foundation for children who need help. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that after a performance by Norwegian duo Madcon, Lundqvist’s team beat Zuccarello’s by a score of 10-7. The result wasn’t important – fans had come to see their favorite hockey stars in action.
Both Zuccarello and Lundkvist were surprised, and grateful, that so many of their hockey colleagues took part, like former New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and others including Mattias Ekholm, Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg and Roman Josi.
“This was an opportunity for us to do something unique together,” Lundkvist told newspaper Aftenposten. “We could raise funds and promote ice hockey. Summer is really important for all the players, it’s when they recharge batteries, but those who could, said ‘yes’ immediately. It was incredibly cool.” Quite literally, given their playing field.