“First off, I’m freezing.”
Boston College head coach Jerry York opened his news conference with the words everyone was thinking Friday afternoon, as Merrimack, Providence, BC and Notre Dame took the ice at Fenway Park in preparation for Citi Frozen Fenway 2014.
Temperatures dipped into the single digits at the home of the Boston Red Sox — with wind chills dropping well below zero — making for a choppy ice surface and some seriously cold toes at practice.
The elements should be more forgiving when the games begin on Saturday, though, and York doesn’t expect the biting cold to take away from the experience of playing at Fenway Park.
“Our kids are very excited, as I am, about playing here at Fenway,” York said. “I think it’s a unique experience. And then coupled with a real rivalry with Notre Dame, it makes it even more of a special game from our perspective.”
The “Holy War” between the Eagles and Irish is a longstanding rivalry on the football field, but the connection between the two Catholic institutions has not been nearly as strong on the ice. BC and Notre Dame have met just 32 times in men’s hockey, with the York’s squad holding a 17-13-2 series lead. Saturday’s Frozen Fenway nightcap will mark the beginning of a new and revitalized rivalry, however, as it will be the first time the teams will play as conference opponents.
“It’s always a big game for BC-Notre Dame football, basketball — any sport.” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “Having been in the Big East with all our other sports when BC was in the Big East, and now we’re back together in the ACC and now in Hockey East, so I’m sure that rivalry will continue.”
PC and Merrimack will take the ice first at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, with BC and Notre Dame following at 7:30 p.m.
— The Fighting Irish may be newcomers to the home of the Red Sox, but they do have experience playing outdoors. Notre Dame braved the elements just last February, in fact, defeating Miami (Ohio) 2-1 in front of 52,051 fans at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Saturday will mark the first outdoor game in program history for both Providence and Merrimack. This is the third Frozen Fenway appearance for Boston College, which lost to Boston University at the inaugural event in 2010 and knocked off Northeastern in 2012.
— The section of the Green Monster scoreboard that usually shows the American League East standings has been updated to reflect the leading point scorer for each participating team. BC’s Johnny Gaudreau leads the pack with 33 points, followed by Ross Mauermann of Providence (27), T.J. Tynan of Notre Dame (15) and Merrimack’s Mike Collins (11).
— Several BC players chose to practice without wearing insulated hoods under their helmets. That, senior forward Kevin Hayes said, was a mistake.
“I think after today, almost everyone will wear a hood,” Hayes said. “Guys that weren’t wearing hoods were complaining about their ears. It’s pretty cold, but like [senior captain Patrick Brown] said, it’s supposed to be played like that. We’re really excited for [Saturday].”
So, expect to see some players bundled up like Randy from A Christmas Story on Saturday night. Fans should do the same.
— Brown’s father, Doug, has also experienced playing hockey in a baseball stadium. A 15-year NHL veteran, the elder Brown suited up in last week’s Red Wings-Maple Leafs alumni game at Comerica Park, scoring the first goal of the game for the Detroit old timers.
“Maybe they can exchange some notes,” York joked.
— The ice surface at Fenway Park features all the lines and markings of a standard hockey rink, but it also features a red line that encircles the rink about two feet from the boards. It’s known as the “Look-Up Line,” and it’s meant to serve as a type of warning track for skaters, with the hope of limiting head and neck injuries by making players more aware of their positioning on the ice.
Read more on how the line was created and implemented by clicking here, and check out a photo of it below, courtesy of Hockey East.
— The weather will be nice when the teams take the ice on Saturday (well, nice from a precipitation standpoint), but there was still the task of clearing out the snow this week’s storm dumped on the ballpark. Stadium staff and volunteers armed with shovels were hard at work doing just that Friday afternoon, working for hours to ensure that spectators won’t be sitting in ankle-deep powder.
Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) January 03, 2014
— On a final, non-hockey note, the Fenway Park press box still has the lineups posted from the Red Sox’ World Series-clinching Game 6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Pretty neat.
Pretty cool: The Red Sox press box still has the lineups from Game 6 posted. http://t.co/vnG89L165t—
Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) January 03, 2014