BOSTON, Mass. — Frozen Fenway 2014 ended on Saturday afternoon with an exciting doubleheader that included Maine defeating Boston University 7-3 and Northeastern defeating UMass Lowell 4-2 in front of a crowd of 25,580 fans.
It was an event that the players, coaches and fans will never forget, but playing the games didn’t come without harsh challenges from mother nature — specifically warm temperatures, heavy rain, thunder and lightning.
“Today wasn’t an ideal situation,” Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna told reporters during the second intermission of the Maine-BU matchup.
“You’re playing a hockey game on a baseball field in January and that comes with some challenges. But the challenge all day was keeping the puck playable, I don’t think the players were ever at any risk with the possible exception of the thunder … It was a matter of maintaining the ice to playable conditions, not typical conditions.
“These aren’t exhibition games. If they were exhibition games it would be a little different — these count. In the context of our new schedule and our new playoff format, when you reduce the number of games, the likelihood of ties and multiple team ties [in the final standings] increases. So one point has a lot of weight to it.”
The ice conditions during Saturday’s games were far from ideal. The heavy rain created a lot of puddles around the playing surface and made passing the puck difficult. The condition of the ice had a lot to do with the precipitation, but it wasn’t helped from the fact that almost 10 games and many practices and open skates were held on the playing surface over the last two weeks.
One method to improve the ice quality for the next Frozen Fenway events could be reducing the amount of games played, but Bertagna isn’t ready to plan for the future right now.
“I think that’s for another time,” the commissioner said. “When we get a little distance from today and the building there will be plenty of time for conversations on how many games is too much.”
“There’s still interest [in the event],” he added, citing that about 80,000 to 90,000 fans came to Fenway Park to watch the outdoor action over the last two weeks. “But you know when you set out to do it that you risk [the weather].”
Looking back, the rain didn’t prevent any of the four teams that played in Saturday’s matchups from scoring goals and giving fans plenty to cheer about. Regardless of the ice conditions or the curve balls mother nature throws at the stadium crew, Frozen Fenway is an exciting and unique event that everyone involved greatly enjoys.
“These kids are going to have [an amazing] memory — these are guys going on to the pros and this is all big-time sports — but these are hockey players who get to play in a memorable game in the rain at Fenway Park,” Bertagna said. “It’s a special scrapbook item for all these guys.”