Notre Dame hockey can keep its toe-warmers and eye black at the ready next season. A little less than a year after the program’s first outdoor game at Solider Field the Irish will be playing in the elements again next season, this time against Boston College at Fenway Park.
Notre Dame skated to a 3-1 win over Miami at Soldier Field in February. The team will play outdoors again next January.
The game against the hometown Eagles is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2014, and will be part of a four-game series featuring eight different Hockey East teams during the first week of January. Notre Dame is set to join the Hockey East at the start of the 2013-14 season.
“We are particularly pleased that with these two doubleheaders, all of our men's programs will have had the opportunity to experience Frozen Fenway, including the University of Notre Dame, our newest member,” league commissioner Joe Bertagna said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
The upcoming event will be the third time since 2010 that Boston’s iconic ballpark hosts “Frozen Fenway.” Boston College participated in the first two in 2010 and 2012. Notre Dame played its first outdoor game in February, a 3-1 win over Miami in Chicago.
The Soldier Field game was part of a doubleheader with Wisconsin and Minnesota and drew a crowd of 52,051 on a cold and sunny weekend. Notre Dame’s players and coaches said they enjoyed the experience and would be happy to do it again in similar weather conditions.
“It’s another great venue. We were fortunate to play at Soldier Field and now we’re playing at one of the most famous baseball fields in the country, if not the most,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “It’ll be a unique experience, plus playing BC is always fun. I’m sure that will make it that much more of an experience for our guys.”
Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick said he could see more of these games in the future, including the possibility of eventually hosting one in South Bend.
“You don’t get a game-day atmosphere like this in hockey,” Swarbrick said in Chicago. “I think that’s one of the great things — the fans from the four schools out there tailgating and having fun with each other. That’s an additional element to the atmosphere around college hockey, which I think is really neat about something like this.”
The past decade has seen a swell in outdoor hockey events on the college and pro levels. Past discussions about the Irish participating in more outdoor games have raised concerns that the experience would lose its luster if played too often and without any kind of special circumstance to set the game apart.
“It will if they continue to do it too much,” Jackson said. “This one is a little different in the fact that it’s become kind of an annual event in Hockey East. It’s no different than going to the [Great Lakes Invitational] or the Beanpot or another major tournament if it’s something that has some meaning to it because it’s an annual event.”
Notre Dame has played Boston College 32 times since 1969 and the series has developed into one of the program’s biggest rivalry games. Two years ago, the Irish officially opened their Compton Family Ice Arena with an overtime win over the Eagles. Last year, the Irish lost in Boston to the defending national champions. January’s game will be the first time they meet as conference opponents.
Ticket information and start times for the games at Fenway will be decided during the next new months.
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