01/07/10 12:20 PM EST
Fenway to host hockey doubleheader
Women's match will kick day off; BU-BC set for under lights
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
More action is on tap for Friday, with a college hockey doubleheader scheduled at one of baseball's most historic venues.
There will be a women's game between Northeastern and the University of New Hampshire at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the men's contest between two of the premier programs in the nation -- Boston University and Boston College -- under the lights at 7:30.
Fans who didn't get a chance to attend the Winter Classic have a chance to see the single-admission doubleheader, as tickets will be available at Gate E on Friday, starting at 3 p.m.
"I can say this because I'm not a hockey guy, so I think it was a pretty nice warm up act last Friday," Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy said at a news conference. "The pro game I think exceeded everyone's expectations and the Red Sox and Fenway Sports Group were a small part of the NHL Winter Classic to the extent that we own the building and we made a deal with the NHL and Bruins to host the games. As it relates to Sun Life Frozen Fenway, FSG has been the promoter of the game and worked very close with Hockey East to pull the games off."
The chance to play rivalry games on the outdoor surface at Fenway is something the college teams seem to be looking forward to every bit as much as the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers last week.
"It's a remarkable experience to go out on the ice and look around and see the left-field wall and the bleachers," said Boston College coach Jerry York. "It's a hard feeling to describe, but there's a rink there and it's just amazing. I know I'm excited. That makes it more unique. It's the 248th time that the two schools have played hockey. That's incredible with the history."
BC and BU both practiced at Fenway on Wednesday.
"Practice was pretty nice," said BU coach Jack Parker, a legendary figure in college hockey circles. "It was certainly unique. We've never had practice outside before and we've never practiced outdoors at Fenway Park before so that was really something for us. I think the NHL and Fenway made the right decision not putting stands anywhere near the rink on the field. So when we're out there, it looks like Fenway Park and it will look like Fenway Park to the fans as well. The ice itself was pretty good. There were a couple of soft spots because of the sun, but that won't be a problem when we're playing Friday night. The overall atmosphere was fabulous."
Amid the grind of a hockey season, players don't usually complain when the whistle blows at the end of practice. That's why Wednesday was so unique to York.
"Right now the kids are still buzzing about hitting a puck off the left-field wall or the wind," said York. "It was the hardest time we've had getting the players off the ice when practice ended. No one wanted to leave."
Though it will probably be a while before the National Hockey League sends the Winter Classic back to Fenway, there could be more ice on the fabled field in upcoming winters.
"I think we would consider having hockey at Fenway in the future but it's probably a bit premature," said Kennedy. "We need to see how the facility will respond to some of the changes, winterization, see how the field responds on April 4 against the Yankees when we open up. We also need to see how the staff responds."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.