Nick Bonino knew it probably wasn’t a good idea to sit in wonderment on Boston University's bench during Friday night's "Frozen Fenway" game against archrival Boston College. But the Terriers center couldn’t help himself.
In the once-in-a-lifetime postcard setting of snowy Fenway Park, Bonino arched back on the bench of the NHL-constructed rink during a TV timeout in the third period, scanned the full house of 38,742 and drank in the unique experience in one awe-inspired gulp.
"I had one of those [moments] in the third period," Bonino said after the Terriers' 3-2 win over their most hated rival. "I know I probably shouldn’t have been reflecting on it, but I leaned back on the bench. They were pretty comfortable benches. I just looked at the whole stadium and I tapped [Chris] Connolly on the shoulder and said ‘take a look at this.’
"It was just incredible. I know in a 3-2 game everyone’s focused, but it was cool to have a TV timeout to take a look around and realize it was incredible to be a part of this event."
Playing on the same rink where the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic a week earlier, the young Terriers and Eagles had an experience they'll not soon forget.
The Terriers scored the game's first three goals – one in the first period and two more in a dominant 15-shot second period -- that simply knocked the Eagles straight off their perch. BC never fully recovered despite a furious comeback attempt that got them within a goal.
BC coach Jerry York admitted afterward that his players -- clad in gold, green and maroon commemorative sweaters -- seemed alternately tight and a little overanxious in the early going.
With Tommy Cross off for cross-checking, BU senior David Warsofsky capped off a frenzied two-week run through the World Junior Championships and Frozen Fenway experience by scoring the game's first goal. Warsofsky hammered a puck from just inside the blue line that skipped past BC goalie John Muse.
It was eerily quiet to BU coach Jack Parker in the visitors' clubhouse between periods, but the players hopped out of the dugout for the second period even more ready to go.
"It was one of our better games as far as being smart with the puck," Parker said after the Terriers won in the first outdoor game they've played since 1956. "I thought we played a very solid game start-to-finish. Sometimes when you play in the Beanpot the excitement gets everybody jacked up and then they pulled out of position. [They] make some mistakes.
"I don’t think there were a lot of mistakes made out there tonight. Hockey is usually a game of mistakes, but it was a pretty thorough game by both clubs."
The first half of the second period was all BU. Joe Pereira jammed a puck inside the left post and past Muse 2:26 into the second period for a 2-0 lead, and freshman Wade Megan scored his second career goal at 10:30 to make it 3-0.
Things seemed to be going perfectly for BU -- almost too perfectly amid the dreamy snow-globe setting under the lights of Fenway Park.
That’s when the Eagles finally woke up and began pressing the play. Zach Cohen's tripping penalty put the Eagles on the power play, but BC had been 0-for-4 on the man advantage up until that point. However, Weymouth, Mass., native and certified Red Sox fan Paul Carey took matters into his own hands and rocketed through a stunned wall of Terriers defenders on a "run to daylight play." Carey fired a shot that BU goalie Kieran Millan stopped, but Brian Gibbons was there to snap home the rebound.
Cam Atkinson scored a shorthanded goal 7:43 into the third period to make it a one-goal game, and there was little shock among anyone involved. After all it’s almost always a one-goal game between the two Commonwealth Avenue rivals -- why should a game at Fenway Park be any different?
The Eagles poured it on the third period, but Millan made 12 of his 27 saves in the third period to send the folks in red and white home happy -- and the ones in purple and gold bitterly disappointed.
"We told our team prior to the game that it’s going to be a memorable experience for both teams, but it’s going to be a significant experience for the team that wins," York said. "We have a lot of memories. But I kind of feel like [Philadelphia Flyers coach] Peter Laviolette. It was a terrific experience, but we lost the game."