Friday I took a field trip up to the heart of enemy territory. The ball park which the Yankees organization held the mortgage on for several years was hosting its final two hockey games of the winter, with a Hockey East doubleheader. My alma mater, Boston College, faced their arch rivals, Boston University in the nightcap.
As our friend 'Duk from Big League Stew told hockey blog Puck Daddy over the weekend, college hockey is one of America's best kept sporting secrets. It doesn't get much attention in the NYC metro area, or even in my home state of Connecticut, but it's pretty big stuff in the rest of New England, as well as the Midwest and the Great Plains. BC hockey was one of my favorite parts of my collegiate experience (1 National Championship, 3 Frozen Fours, a Beanpot title, and 2 Hockey East tournament championships and regular season championships). So the chance to see the Eagles take on the hated Terriers in an outdoor game was pretty a cool experience.
Pre game ceremonies featured former Major Leaguers and current Boston-area men's league hockey players Richie Hebner, John Tudor, and former Yankee Bill Monbouquette. Honorary captains for BU included Miracle on Ice hero Mike Eruzione, former Ranger Tony Amonte, and Travis Roy. Honorary captains for BC were Marty McInnis, Craig Janney, and former Ranger Brian Leetch.
Despite light snow and frigid temperatures (around 10 degrees with the wind), I had consumed enough anti-freeze at Game On prior to the game to keep me warm. Our seats in the centerfield bleachers offered a decent enough vantage point of the ice, better than those in field boxes whose views were obscured by the boards.
Both teams featured special sweaters for the event. BC rolled out a special gold jersey, featuring a green stripe (to represent the Green Monster) between the standard maroon stripes and baseball diamond logo above the numbers on the back. BU replaced their standard lettering with the Red Sox font and featured a hockey skate version of the Red Sox hanging socks logo on the shoulders.
Unfortunately for me, there wasn't much to celebrate in the game. BU jumped out to a 3-0 lead just more than halfway through the game. BC got a power play goal late in the second to get on the board, and then scored a shorthanded goal with just over 12 minutes to play to cut the deficit to one. That would be it for scoring on the night though, as BC went just 1 for 8 on the power play and wound up losing 3-2. Despite the victory, BU is just sixth in Hockey East, while BC is in third - five points off the pace and six points ahead of their rivals.
Somewhere in the crowd was the fan antithesis of me. You may have won this round buddy; we'll see what happens at the Beanpot next month. In the meantime I'll try to remain content with the World Series championship.
While it's looking increasingly less likely that Yankee Stadium will host a hockey game next year, or perhaps any time in the next three years, they could learn a lesson from the way Fenway handled their Winter Classic experience. Typical of the Henry ownership group, they squeezed every penny they could out of their three weeks with a rink. In addition to the Winter Classic and the Frozen Fenway doubleheader, they hosted two public skates for Boston residents, a prep school game between Taft and Avon Old Farms, a BC-BU alumni game, and reportedly rented out the ice, at a very lucrative rate, for local teams to use. Despite a shortage of area D-I collegiate squads, I hope the Yankees can manage to do something similar if and when they get to host some hockey games.
(Sweater and fan photos courtesy of Puck Daddy)