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Fenway Park to host college hockey doubleheader

by James Murphy
BOSTON -- The 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on New Year's Day won't be like the two previous editions. It's going to have a different and longer feel -- because it won't end with the Bruins-Flyers game.

The NHL, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Sports Group and the Hockey East Association announced Thursday that Fenway will host a Hockey East doubleheader Jan. 8, 2010. Boston College and Boston University will face off in the men's game at 7:30 p.m., following a match between the Northeastern University and the University of New Hampshire women's teams at 4 p.m.

In addition to the two games, there will be public skating sessions available for the community and numerous events surrounding the Winter Classic and the two college contests.

"We're very excited that we were able to extend this Winter Classic and include a college game as well," NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing Brian Jennings said.
As Jennings pointed out, when discussions with the Bruins, Red Sox and Fenway Park began, all agreed they should find a way to involve the entire Boston hockey community, as well as the general public.

"When the first conversations started up with the Red Sox and Fenway Park, we started thinking, how do we enable the community to be able to touch this and experience it even more?" Jennings said. "So one of the benefits of doing it in a baseball stadium like this is that you don't have to worry about the scheduling like you would in a football stadium because of playoffs or what have you. So that is a huge advantage and the fact that we will be able to have the rink set-up from December 18 to January 10 gives us the opportunity to do so much more with the event and really reach out to the community and involve them.

Representatives from Hockey East and Fenway Park expressed their gratitude and excitement to be part of what has become a staple of every hockey fan's New Year's Day.

"We are very excited to bring college hockey to Fenway Park in this once-in-a-lifetime event," said Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna. "It's great for the growth of the sport, as we have seen what the Winter Classic has done for the NHL and its fans."

Fenway Sports Group President Sam Kennedy echoed Bertagna's excitement.

"We are really excited to host the very best of college hockey talent next January at Fenway Park as part of the Hockey East at Fenway doubleheader," he said. "As a born-and-bred New Englander myself who grew up playing hockey, I am eager to watch the UNH and NU women's hockey teams face off against each other along with the last two NCAA men's ice hockey champions, BC and BU, renew their storied rivalry in the shadow of the Green Monster."

The Fenway game will be the 248th meeting between the two Boston rivals, dating to Feb. 6, 1918. BU leads the all-time series, 123-106-17.

The rivalry between the Huskies and Wildcats is one of the oldest in women's college history, dating to 1975. The game at Fenway will mark the 110th meeting between the two teams.

Some Boston College and Boston University players were on hand, and after watching the last two Winter Classics in awe and admiration for the NHL players who got to play in each game, they were honored and delighted that they too will share that experience.

"When the NHL finally announced their game we started to believe maybe this could actually happen, and now that it's really here and happening, it's so exciting and I want to thank the NHL and everyone else for such a great opportunity," said BC's Jimmy Hayes, a Boston native and 2008 Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick. "When I was watching the (2008) Pittsburgh-Buffalo game and (Sidney) Crosby scored that shootout goal with the snow coming down, it looked so cool and you just think what it would be like to be a part of something like that.

"Being from around here and growing up a Red Sox fan just makes it even better and I can't say how much I appreciate this opportunity. It's awesome. The NHL and the Boston Bruins letting us be part of this is such an honor."

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to be a part of it is just an honor. We're definitely hoping for a good scene, with snow, like that first game in Buffalo. It just seemed so surreal. The weather was perfect and it was great to watch, so to play in that will be great."
-- Boston University defenseman and 2008 Blues draft pick, David Warsofsky

Boston University defenseman David Warsofsky, a Marshfield, Mass., native, is grateful to have the opportunity to possibly play in a winter wonderland.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to be a part of it is just an honor," said Warsofsky, a 2008 St. Louis Blues draft pick. "We're definitely hoping for a good scene, with snow, like that first game in Buffalo. It just seemed so surreal. The weather was perfect and it was great to watch, so to play in that will be great.

"It's really wonderful that the NHL is giving us a chance to be on such a large stage and to showcase college hockey like that. We really appreciate it."

The players aren’t the only ones who are excited.

"This is not only a tremendous thrill for our program, but for our entire university," said BU coach Jack Parker, a Boston native entering his 37th season as coach. "Having spent my entire life in Boston -- and most of it just down the street from Fenway Park -- I'll probably be just as excited on Jan. 8 as our players will be."

Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Sept. 17.

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