Hockey East Announces 3rd Installment of Frozen Fenway
8 Teams to Play at Historic Ballpark
by Joe Meloni/Senior Writer
BOSTON Hockey East, Fenway Sports Management and the city of Boston officially announced the third installment of Frozen Fenway on Friday. This edition will feature eight teams to play in four games over two weekends.
Merrimack plays Providence at 4 p.m. on Jan. 4 with Hockey East debutant Notre Dame meeting Boston College in the nightcap. Seven days later, Massachusetts-Lowell meets Northeastern at 3 p.m. before Maine and Boston University square off at 6:30 p.m.
"We are excited about the return of hockey to Fenway Park," Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said earlier this year. "We are particularly pleased that with these two doubleheaders, all of our men's programs will have had the opportunity to experience Frozen Fenway, including Notre Dame, our newest member."
Merrimack and Providence opted for their game to be a nonconference matchup with the clubs meeting twice more as part of Hockey East play. The other three games at Fenway will count toward the league standings.
Hockey East and FSG have partnered for five games previously. Women's teams from Northeastern and New Hampshire along with BU and BC met in 2010. Two years later, Massachusetts played Vermont along with a Maine-UNH matchup. The following week, BC and Northeastern capped off that season's outdoor contests. Union and Harvard also took to the outdoor rink in 2012. Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said at the time the league plans to continue the event at Fenway every other year.
The point in the season for the games represents an opportunity for teams to change scenery from the grind of the year. However, it can hurt the rhythm and momentum teams develop.
"I look at two years ago, we came (to Fenway) on a long winning streak to play BC," Madigan said. "We lost, 2-1, in a good game. It's important that our players can compartmentalize, so that they're focused when the game comes. It's still two points at stake for us. We're playing a Lowell team that should be very good."
This year's event means all 11 Hockey East teams will have played at Fenway Park at least once. The Jan. 4 showdown of BC and Notre Dame will mark the third game at Fenway for BC.
For Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson, playing BC at Fenway represents a chance to announce his program's arrival as a Hockey East school further.
"It's an exciting time for us," Jackson said. "Moving into a new conference of this quality and then being invited to be part of this special event is awesome for us. We were fortunate last year to be at Soldier Field. That was my first experience with outdoor game.
"Fenway Park is obviously a tremendous venue. And we're playing a rival in BC, which makes it that much more special."
The previous games at the ballpark have yieled more than 105,000 tickets sold. For the league, it's likely that the biannual event will continue until fans no longer show interest. Moreover, players from every school enjoy the opportunity to take their games outdoors.
"I grew up in Everett, Mass., so it was a quick train ride to see Red Sox games here when I was younger," UMass-Lowell captain Joe Pendenza said. "I used to see games here with my uncle. I used to come with my dad and my buddies.
"Now, being able to play a hockey game here, it's going to be weird at first. I never thought I'd be able to play out on the Fenway grass. It's going to be a great experience. The guys from out of town are going to enjoy it even more than me because Fenway Park is just kind of a normal thing for me."
"As a local kid, always coming to Fenway, it's pretty special that I'll get to play here in the winter," BU captain and Norfolk, Mass., native Garrett Noonan said. "I watched all the Winter Classic games and the other games here. I get the opporunity to play here now, and I'm really excited.
"(My family) is really excited, too. They haven't been to a hockey game at Fenway, so to be able to watch me play will be a thrill for them. I can't wait to have them here."
Tickets for the event go on sale Sept. 6.