BOSTON -- Fenway Park has been home to some of the greatest memories in baseball history.
There was Carlton Fisk’s dramatic home run off the left field foul pole in 1975. There was Dave Roberts’ steal of second base that began the Red Sox historic comeback against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. And there was, most recently, the clinching of a third World Series title in the last decade just back in October.
In recent years, America’s most beloved ballpark has also played host to a handful of memorable hockey games.
Saturday marked the third time in four years that Hockey East took center stage as part of Frozen Fenway. With temperatures well below freezing, the underground concourse was the place to be before Merrimack took on its longstanding rival, Providence, in the opener.
31,569 fans were announced in attendance for the doubleheader, but the cold kept the park from filling up to near its capacity over the course of the night.
Huddled together in front of the main concession stand behind home plate was the family of Providence star junior forward Ross Mauermann. His parents and cousins from Janesville, Wisc., were joined by a group of family members from Georgia.
“It’s cold,” A.J. Mauermann said. “My legs are starting to freeze.”
Those were the sentiments of many who braved the elements as hockey returned to Fenway. For a family from Wisconsin, their experience at the old ballpark drew a comparison to one of that area’s signature sporting venues.
“It’s beyond belief. It feels like Lambeau Field (home of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers), in the cold, freezing out here. … Hopefully it doesn’t snow out here, but it’s going to be great.”
The event, of course, also drew a large crowd of local fans, including Merrimack alum Nicole McGrain of Methuen, Mass., who is very familiar with the park as a season ticket holder for Red Sox home games.
“(My husband and I) thought it would be pretty cool to come here for hockey,” McGrain, who was in the stands for the opening game of the World Series against St. Louis back in October, said. “It’s completely different seeing a hockey rink on the field that the Red Sox just won the World Series. … It brings you back to that game with the excitement in the air, the fans cheering.”
Escorted by his parents, fellow Warrior fan Colin Nally of Georgetown, Mass., was excited to see Fenway transformed into a winter wonderland after attending countless Red Sox games during his childhood. “It’s a little bit of a mismatch,” he said.
Shrewsbury High student Jack Snyder’s father John played for Boston College in the 1960s, so Eagle hockey has been in his blood for his entire life. Even though this marks the Eagles’ third game at Frozen Fenway, hockey at the park still has quite a magical feel.
“It’s so cool,” Snyder said, standing in the back of the center field Big Concourse. “I’ve been to so many Red Sox games that it’s weird to see, but I love it.”
A great Red Sox fan, Snyder attended several games at Fenway during the year and found himself thinking back to the summer months. Returning to the park in the future will always have a different feel, as Snyder claimed he “will never be able to look at the pitcher’s mound the same again” after seeing ice spread across the infield.
As for what he was most looking forward to about the day?
“I just really hope BC can pull off a win because I’m sitting in this cold for seven hours.”
He got his wish.