Stadium Series a full-circle moment for Dobson family

The 2024 Stadium Series marks defenceman Noah Dobson’s first NHL outdoor experience with his New York Islanders set to face off against the New York Rangers.

Stadium Series a full-circle moment for Dobson family

Feature photo: Getty Images

Noah Dobson is a veteran of the outdoor hockey scene, just not at the NHL level.

That, however, is about to change.

This Sunday, the 24-year-old defenceman and his New York Islanders teammates will take on the New York Rangers in the second of two outdoor games that will showcase four Metropolitan Division rivals as part of the NHL Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium home to the New York Giants and New York Jets of the NFL.

“It’s definitely exciting,” said Dobson, who grew up playing outdoors in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. “Any chance you get to play outdoors is always something special.”

Dobson will have his own cheering section on hand, a group that includes his parents, Andrew and Jenny, and his younger sister, Elly.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing my first NHL outdoor game,” said Elly. “I think it will be a great atmosphere and lots of fun with family and friends.

“Growing up in Eastern Canada, in the winter, outdoor rinks were a big thing. Our dad used to build one every winter that Noah would spend a lot of time on. So, it will definitely be a full-circle moment seeing Noah playing outdoors again.”

Known as The City by the Sea, hockey is a big part of Summerside’s identity.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a neighbourhood where all the guys I played minor hockey with and all my best friends lived close to each other,” said Dobson.

“Every year, there was always one rink for all the guys to play on and we would spend hours out there.

“Growing up as a Canadian kid, that was a staple for a lot of us. You go out on the rink for hours, come home freezing cold, have a cup of hot chocolate, and then get right back out there.”

Dobson, who owns a house in P.E.I, added a hockey theme to his property last summer as an homage to his love for the outdoor game.

The 12th overall selection of the Islanders in the 2018 NHL Draft posted a video of the construction work, including the finished product, on Instagram.

“I put up a shooting pad with synthetic ice. It was a fun little project, but I’d be lying if I said I did any of the building. I would say that I was more of a general contractor. The guys who built it did a great job.”

“It’s a cool spot to hang out. I spent a lot of time shooting pucks growing up and I still do. It turned out well.”

As did another outdoor hockey experience last June.

The first edition of Noah Dobson’s HockeyFest was a big hit in his hometown.

The City of Summerside partnered with Dobson for the street hockey competition that raised over $10K in funds plus valuable awareness for Community Connections Inc. a nonprofit organization that provides various support services to adults with disabilities in Summerside.

“It was a great opportunity,” said Dobson, of the event for kids and adults, where each game is played on half-sized NHL rinks.

“When I was asked if I could put my name on an event that I could help run for years and be involved with, I said yes right away. It’s a great cause and it’s nice to be able to raise money and awareness for it.

“To have it be a street hockey festival, and to have it in my hometown, is very special. I am excited to see it grow.”

Dobson has also turned his assists on the ice into contributions towards mental health support for young people through NHLPA Assists in Action.

Now in its third year, the NHLPA donates $7 to Kids Help Phone for every assist recorded by an NHL player during the regular season and playoffs. 

Dobson has already surpassed last season’s personal-best NHL assist mark of 36, and heads into the Stadium Series with 48 to his name so far in 2023-24. He led defencemen in the category in January with 17, and again in December with 13 alongside Adam Fox of the New York Rangers.

Dobson’s focus remains on helping the Islanders keep pace in the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Playoff race.

He’s hoping a Stadium Series win can boost those fortunes.

“All the guys are looking forward to it,” said Dobson. “The closer it gets, the more pumped you get.”

The same can be said for his family.

“I am really looking forward to it. Watching Noah play in the NHL still feels very surreal,” said Elly. “It was his dream to play in the NHL from the time he was about three. I watched all the time and effort he put into hockey growing up.

“So, when I watch him play, I always think about how hard he has worked and continues to work to get to this level. I feel extremely proud and happy when I see him out there.”

Dobson is thrilled to have them along for the ride this Sunday.

“It’s a big stadium, so I’m not sure how the view will be for them, but it’s going to be an experience we can share that means a lot to us all.”