During high school, Tommy Cross
gave up baseball in order to concentrate on his hockey career, so you can forgive the Connecticut-born defenseman if he never pictured his collegiate hockey career taking him to America's most beloved ball park.
But that’s exactly where he will be playing a hockey game later this season -- Fenway Park in Boston.
“When you look back, this is one of the first things that you’re going to remember,” said Cross, a sophomore at Boston College who was drafted in the second round, 35th overall, by the Bruins in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. “All in all it’s just a fun event and I think it’s going to be a great day.”
That day is January 8, a week after the Bruins take on the Flyers in the Winter Classic on New Years Day.
The Hockey East double-header will begin when the Northeastern Women’s Ice Hockey team faces off against the New Hampshire Wildcats at 4 p.m. They’ll be followed by a game between the reigning NCAA National Champion Boston University Terriers and their arch rivals, the 2008 National Champion Boston College Eagles, at 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time, but the thing that really made it happen was that the Bruins and Flyers would be here,” said Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna following Thursday’s announcement at Fenway.
Obviously, Hockey East has a close relationship with the Bruins as the TD Garden has been the site for the conference’s men’s ice championship tournament for years and, for sure, this historic event will be another game to remember.
“Many of us…are either administrators or coaches [that] grew up playing in the Beanpot and playing at the Garden,” said Bertagna. “I think it’s great that the Bruins and the NHL were able to do what they’re doing to allow all of this to happen for us.”
Jack Parker, long-time head coach of the Boston University Terriers Men’s Ice Hockey Team, is looking forward to the event and said he is more than happy to “jump on the coattails” of the NHL’s Winter Classic.
“It’s really exciting for us to be here,” he said. "To be here, to be involved in this game is such a unique opportunity.
“I don’t think anything will be more remembered than this game because of the venue.
“It will be something that hopefully all our players and certainly Jerry [York] and I will remember for the rest of our lives,” he said.
That thought was unanimous, as was one question: What will the weather be like?
Parker, for one, is hoping for snow, but “not a lot of snow, just enough to make it feel like we’re outdoor skating on the pond like when we were kids.”
On the other hand, Cross, a true New Englander, already has a plan either way.
“We might need to put a hat on underneath or dress a little warmer,” he said.