By Carly Grimaudo
Special to GoHolyCross.com
With Citi Frozen Fenway rapidly approaching, and less than a week away, the Holy Cross men's ice hockey team is looking forward to lacing up their skates and hitting the ice for one of the 2013-2014 season's most anticipated games. This not so ordinary contest will be played against Atlantic Hockey opponent Bentley at Fenway Park, one of the nation's most famous and historic stadiums and the home of 2013 World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox. While the entire 27-man team is excitedly awaiting the 6:30 p.m. puck drop on Saturday, Dec. 28, the game means something extra special to the six die-hard Red Sox fans who can't wait to skate over the frozen ground at the home of their favorite baseball team and players. Sophomores Tim Driscoll (Hingham, Mass.), Sean Gustin (Stoneham, Mass.), Jake Bolton (Ellington, Conn.), Joe McNamara (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) and Ben Kaplan (Burlington, Vt.), as well as freshman Nick Finn (Canton, Mass.) talked with GoHolyCross.com about their lives as Red Sox fans and what it's going to be like to face off against Bentley from inside Fenway Park.
While all six date the beginning of their fandom back to the early years of their lives, with Driscoll joking that he came out of the womb a Red Sox fan, they all have unique experiences as fans of the team. Driscoll grew up in the South Shore town of Hingham, just over 15 miles southeast of Boston, watching the Red Sox play baseball and playing the sport himself. When asked why he is a Red Sox fan, Driscoll mentioned both his early involvement in the sport and how throughout his life he really bonded with his dad over watching and cheering for the team. Driscoll, who's favorite player is Mike Napoli, has attended somewhere around 15 Red Sox games in his life with his first being too young to even remember and his most recent this past summer. Like most of his fellow Red Sox loving teammates, Driscoll's favorite memory was in 2004 when the team rallied against the Yankees from being down 3-0 in the series to defeating New York by winning four straight games, and continuing on to crush the Cardinals and take the World Series title, reversing the "Curse of the Bambino."
Gustin also grew up both watching and playing the sport of baseball, and even continues his baseball career as a two-sport athlete and pitcher for Holy Cross. As someone who is no stranger to Fenway Park, Gustin has been to too many Red Sox games to count, and was even a witness to their victory over the Cardinals, to clinch the 2013 World Series championship on Oct. 30 this year. "That is hands down my most memorable moment, it's something I will never forget," he said. Next to this incredible memory, the Manny Ramirez fan also greatly appreciates a second one of attending a game this past Fourth of July, where he got to spend time with his family while enjoying the great game of baseball.
Bolton, who accompanied Gustin to one of his numerous Red Sox games, has been a fan since he was about five years old. Including the game he attended with his fellow teammate, Bolton has gone to five total Red Sox games, with his first being at a very young age and his most recent this past spring when they faced Cleveland. While Bolton's favorite Red Sox moment was their 2004 World Series run, he also mentioned having a memorable experience at his first game. "I was really young and my mom and I went to a game against the Rays," he said. "I remember knowing that Boston has the best people because I was really cold and some guy sitting near us literally gave me his Red Sox jacket and let me keep it because he wasn't that cold. That was pretty cool," Bolton added. Just as Red Sox fans are loyal, so is Bolton's favorite player, David Ortiz, or Big Papi as he is commonly known. "He's been here since the beginning and he's a big time player," Bolton said as to why he likes Ortiz the most.
McNamara too had a memorable first Red Sox game and credits it as to why he initially became a fan. "My Aunt Linda and Uncle Jim took me to the game, and I was lucky enough to catch a ball that was thrown into the stands by the ball boy. That's when I first started to really enjoy the Fenway Park experience," he said. Living right near the Boston College campus, McNamara recalls his favorite Red Sox memory as sitting in his living room watching the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series with his family, then opening the front door of his house after the final out to hear Boston College erupt with cheers. His favorite player is Koji Uehara because he loves how he could not speak English, but was able to communicate and earn the respect of both his teammates and the city of Boston through playing great baseball. While McNamara has been to about 10 games, he hasn't been to one in four years and can't wait to return to the park on the 28th, when he says he will get to skate in a rink on the grass that greats, like Nomar Garciaparra have stood on, in the historic Fenway Park for the third time in his life.
Like Driscoll, Finn also lives near the city of Boston, and is not only a Red Sox fan, but a big fan of all Boston's sports teams. From the age of five, when Finn went to his first game, to today, he too has attended too many games to keep track of. Though he doesn't remember much about his first game, Finn remembers every detail of the Red Sox's victory in game one of the 2013 World Series, which was the most recent game he went to, alongside fellow teammate Mike Barrett (Orland Park, Ill.). Finn's favorite Red Sox moment was also the team's 2004 World Series victory. "I didn't witness the win in person however, I remember being in my living room and jumping almost as high as first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz did when he caught the ball at first base to secure the series win," he said. The long-time fan's favorite player on the team is Dustin Pedroia because he makes amazing plays and "always comes through in the clutch."
Kaplan may not have been a fan as long as his fellow teammates, as he began rooting for the team during the 2004 World Series, but that doesn't make him any less of a fan today. The Vermont-native has been to four games throughout his life, with his most recent being this past summer. While the 2004 journey to the World Series stands out in his head, Kaplan could not choose between reversing the curse or winning this year's title as his favorite Red Sox moment. Though indecisive in that aspect, Kaplan's favorite player is undoubtedly Uehara, mainly because of how cute his son is, he joked. In regards to the Frozen Fenway game, Kaplan summed it up best by saying, "We are extremely excited for the game and once the initial awe factor of playing in Fenway passes over, we will only have one thing on our minds, winning."
It's no coincidence that when asked what playing at Fenway Park means to these Red Sox fans, most of them responded with "it's a dream come true." An opportunity to combine both their sport of hockey with the history and atmosphere of Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, is sure to make for a great experience and a great hockey game.
The Crusaders open the 17-day Citi Frozen Fenway event at Fenway Park in Boston with their game against Atlantic Hockey opponent Bentley on Dec. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now via www.redsox.com/frozenfenway or by calling the Red Sox Ticket Office at 877-733-7699. Tickets range from $10 to $50.