Growing up in Salem, Mass., Will O’Neill remembers traveling into Boston with his father and brother to go to Boston Red Sox games at Fenway Park. His father, Bill, would purchase tickets, then perch O’Neill on his shoulders and enter the ballpark.

O’Neill has continued to attend Red Sox games at Fenway Park, and this summer, the University of Maine hockey captain learned that he would be more than just a spectator at one of baseball’s most venerable stadiums. This January, O’Neill will get to skate on a frozen surface inside the ballpark when the Black Bears face New Hampshire on Jan. 7, 2012, in Frozen Fenway.

Hockey East, the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Management said Friday that Fenway Park will host a Hockey East doubleheader made up of four teams: Vermont vs. Massachusetts at 4 p.m. and New Hampshire vs. Maine at 7:30 p.m.

“No matter who you play, and we’re playing New Hampshire here at Fenway, it will be special,” said O’Neill, a senior defenseman. “This has added to the flavor of the rivalry. It sells out each time and there’s nothing like this rivalry. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like now that this is happening at Fenway.”

The doubleheader will kick off the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park and will be part of Hockey Day In New England, which starts at 1 p.m., when the Boston Bruins host the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

“We’ve changed this from a local rivalry to a celebration of New England hockey,” Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna said Friday afternoon in a press conference at Fenway Park.

This will be the second time in three years Fenway Park has played host to outdoor hockey; in January 2010, the stadium hosted the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic and a Hockey East men’s and women’s doubleheader.

“It’s been a process, and an interesting process that’s taken some time,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said.

“We had great leadership from Joe Bertagna and from our conference, so that was a big factor in securing this opportunity. I’m pleased that Joe and the league were confident to include and to have the courage and the vision to include the schools outside of Boston. It takes a leap of faith, and they have the confidence that our teams will travel well.”

Maine and New Hampshire’s rivalry dates back to 1979, and Fenway Park will be the 13th venue in which the teams have met.

“We knew this was a possibility, and it all worked out,” New Hampshire Coach Dick Umile said at the press conference. “Our rivalry with Maine has been a special one over the years, and we’ve talked a lot of years about playing in a different venue.”

Maine will play three games against New Hampshire this season: Nov. 5 at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H., Jan. 7, 2012, at Fenway and March 3 at Alfond Arena in Orono.

Tickets for Frozen Fenway will go on sale at noon Sept. 13 and according to Red Sox officials, Fenway Park will have capacity seating for 38,000 spectators.

A vendor for rink construction has not been chosen yet; the NHL was in charge of rink construction at Fenway Park for the 2010 Winter Classic.

Frozen Fenway will be one of two outdoor college hockey events scheduled for the 2011-2012 season.

Cleveland’s Progressive Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, will host Michigan and Ohio State on Jan. 15, 2012, in The Frozen Diamond Faceoff.

“I’m just excited to be able to share this experience with everybody,” O’Neill said. “With my family, with my friends and with the fans.

“And it’s such a special thing that we get to be down here, in one of the most unbelievable facilities in the world.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: rlenzi