Friday, August 26, 2011

UNH to Play in Frozen Fenway 2012

FENWAY PARK, Boston - When it's 86 degrees and the sun is reflecting off the Green Monster, it's difficult to imagine anyone playing hockey on the lush infield grass. But that's exactly what will happen on January 7, 2012. At a press conference this afternoon, Boston Mayor Tom Menino announced that the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park will begin with the Frozen Fenway 2012. The University of New Hampshire men's hockey team will play against rival the University of Maine in a 7:30 p.m. game. UMass Amherst will face off against UVM in the 4:00 p.m. game.

Speaking in front of representatives of the Boston Red Sox, Hockey East Association, Fenway Sports Management, New England Sports Network, and a couple dozen reporters, UNH Coach Dick Umile said "Over the years, Timmy (Whitehead) and I and Coach Walsh talked about us possibly playing a game like this in a big venue and I can't think of a better place to play than at Fenway Park. We're really looking forward to it. We have a lot of alums in the New England area and Boston area and hopefully they along with our fans will be down here. Hopefully we'll sell this out quickly because it's going to be an exciting day."

Following the formal remarks, I had an opportunity to interview Co-Captains Mike Borisenok and Damon Kipp. When asked about their experience playing hockey outdoors, Borisenok said "I grew up playing outside (in Watervilet, NY) whether it was on a pond or home-built rink. I never got to play an outdoor game so it's going to be really exciting." Kipp described his early experiences growing up in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. "I played a lot on a lake after shoveling the snow and setting up banks for the rink. I played with a lot of my friends - not a lot of them played hockey - but it's such a tradition to throw on the skates, get a stick and puck and shoot around. Good memories growing up, that's for sure."

I asked both Co-Captains and Coach Umile whether they would make any adjustments in their game plan going from indoor to outdoor hockey. Borisenok said "We'll play our systems. It's going to be the same size ice surface. The only difference will be the weather which could play a big impact." Kipp added "we're going to have to just play and deal with whatever's going on. The weather could be a big thing but we'll try to approach it like a normal game." Coach Umile indicated that the team will have an opportunity to practice on the specially-constructed ice surface at Fenway. Otherwise, he plans to prepare like it was any other game against Maine.

Tickets for the Frozen Fenway 2012 go on sale Tuesday, September 13th. Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna reminded the audience that tickets for the 2010 games at Fenway Park sold out in two days. It was also announced today that the Bruins will play the Vancouver Canucks at the TD Garden earlier in the day on January 7th. Tom Carron said that all three games will be broadcast on NESN.


Both captains told me that all of the incoming freshmen are either on campus or will be arriving soon in Durham. That means that Jay Camper, Eric Chevrier, Casey DeSmith, Grayson Downing, Ryan Randall, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Casey Thrush, and Matt Willows should be suiting up for UNH in a few weeks.

A representative of the Athletic Department indicated that the replacement for Coach Lassonde should be announced early next week. As with most state positions, the posting needed to be up for a specific period of time.

And finally, in what could be a harbinger of things to come, the little bear mascot for the University of Maine passed out on the Fenway turf. He reportedly was recuperating and resting comfortably.


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