Thursday, April 17, 2014
The University of Maine men's hockey team may step onto the ice in one of baseball's most revered stadiums this winter.
Fenway Park is one of the game’s historic venues.
Multiple sources have confirmed Jan. 7 as the date for a Hockey East doubleheader at Fenway Park involving the Black Bears and three other teams.
It will be the first time Maine has played an outdoor hockey game, and will be the second outdoor hockey event in three years involving Hockey East.
Laura Reed, the assistant athletic director for media relations at Maine, declined to comment Wednesday on an outdoor game, but when Hockey East released its schedule Friday, games between New Hampshire and Maine, and Vermont and Massachusetts, were scheduled for 7 p.m., Jan. 7.
"We're excited about the possibility of Fenway Park but nothing is officially set," Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said.
"We're hoping for good news soon."
Gary Prolman, the Portland-based adviser for several of Maine's current and former players, said Wednesday that a Jan. 7 doubleheader at Fenway Park is "a near-certainty right now."
"For Maine and UNH to play in a game that prominent would be terrific," Prolman said. "It's a natural rivalry and to play in a site like that, it would be terrific."
Peter Souris, Hockey East's director of public relations, declined to comment on or confirm the reports.
"The dates are confirmed on our schedule but the location cannot be confirmed," Souris said.
"We had some issues with the UMass-Providence game that needed to be moved, but no other information on that date."
The Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Mass., reported in May that UMass officials confirmed the Minutemen as part of a doubleheader involving four Hockey East teams at Fenway.
Fenway Park hosted the NHL's Winter Classic between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1, 2010, and a pair of Hockey East games a week later -- a men's game between Boston College and Boston University that drew nearly 39,000 spectators, and a women's game between Northeastern and New Hampshire that was the first outdoor women's college hockey game.
Outdoor hockey has become a phenomenon at the college and professional levels.
In addition to the NHL's Winter Classic on New Years Day, Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium and Michigan State's Spartan Stadium have hosted outdoor games.
On Dec. 11, 2010, Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., hosted Michigan State in "The Big Chill at the Big House," which drew 104,073 spectators.
"It helps market the program," Prolman said. "You're being recognized as one of the prominent programs in the Northeast and in Hockey East, and if you're playing in that, it would be huge for marketing your program, and it would be a huge recruiting boost for Tim Whitehead and for (Maine assistant coach) Bob Corkum."
Maine released its 2011-12 schedule June 16 and New Hampshire released its schedule the next day. Each schedule has three Maine-UNH games listed: Nov. 5 vs. Maine at the Whittemore Center in Durham. N.H., and March 2-3 at Alfond Arena in Orono.
Neither schedule reflects the Jan. 7 game, and if Fenway Park hosts a UNH-Maine meeting, only one game would be played the final weekend of the regular season in Orono.
"We have not been notified of any changes to our schedule yet," said Tom Wilkins, New Hampshire's assistant athletic director for media and public relations.
Vermont released its schedule Wednesday and is set to play Jan. 7 at Massachusetts.
Massachusetts hasn't released its schedule yet.
"Our official stance is that we know it's a 7 p.m. road game at UMass, at the Mullins Center," said Alastair Ingram, an assistant director for athletic communications and the men's hockey contact at Vermont
"But we've seen the reports of an outdoor game at Fenway Park as well."
Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at: