The Wildcats, currently No. 3 in the country (12-2-4, 6-1-1 Hockey East), have been one of the most established programs in the country for years. Having won four Hockey East Championships and having made two Frozen Four appearances in the last five years, they are hungry for a new challenge.
As successful and impressive as it has been, UNH has been disappointed on occasion, coming up short on securing key title matches they were expected to win. On a team that boasts a long list of national-team players, Olympians and conference MVPs, the Wildcats have yet to add "national champions" to their resume. They have been dissatisfied in recent Frozen Four appearances.
With the anticipation, hype and excitement leading up to the prestigious event Friday at Fenway, there is no question that whoever prevails will have a significantly heightened spark for the remainder of the season. Just as the first-ever U.S. women?s Olympic hockey gold-medal team will never be forgotten, the winner of Friday?s match between UNH and Northeastern will have its name in the record books forever.
Perhaps a win on Friday is just what UNH needs to gain enough momentum to get into national title contention once again. When comparing the two teams, there is no question that UNH possesses the advantage over Northeastern, boasting a 25-0 record against the Huskies over the past eight years. However, of the two teams, UNH may have more difficulty adjusting to the Fenway Park ice surface.
UNH is one of the few collegiate hockey programs that uses the much larger, Olympic-size ice surface as its home venue. While the Wildcats undoubtedly perform their best and possess a tremendous advantage over the competition in their own barn, a smaller — not to mention outdoor — surface could cause a stumble.
It is kind of like in the popular hockey film Mystery Alaska, when the powerful New York Rangers faced a significant disadvantage on the colder, outdoor Alaskan ice surface in traveling to play the underdog home team.
It should be interesting to see how each team reacts on Friday. Northeastern is the home-based Boston team playing on a surface size to which it is more accustomed. Maybe the significant venue change will throw the Wildcats off their game, just as it did to the Rangers.
Regardless of Friday?s outcome, there is no question that each team is fighting to get its name in the history books. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that holds value completely unique to that of a Hockey East or national championship. As part of a highly publicized matchup between two of the most esteemed women?s hockey programs in the country, Friday?s winner will mark its spot in Beantown hockey history.