By Carly Grimaudo
Special to GoHolyCross.com
BOSTON, Mass. - After months of preparation and built up excitement the time finally came for the Holy Cross men's ice hockey team to skate over the freshly cut ice that lies in Fenway Park's infield, with center ice positioned where second base once was. As the first team to step on the ice and kick off the start of the 2014 Citi Frozen Fenway in a practice session, the Crusaders had the opportunity to let the experience of playing inside one of the most historic baseball stadiums in the country sink in before the puck drops against AHA opponent Bentley at 6:30 p.m. The skate day was used not only to get a feel for a new, and certainly unique ice, but also to take in all the excitement the environment offers, so they can channel it into a focused mindset needed to take on the Falcons on game day.
Upon arriving at Fenway, the players accessed the locker room, normally used by the Boston Red Sox's visiting opponents, dropped off their bags and headed out to the field through the dugout to explore where the Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series just two months ago. Whether they are a Red Sox fan, or a fan of another team, each player was equally awed at what the surreal atmosphere had to offer. Following multiple picture opportunities on the ice, outside the rink and even in front of the Green Monster, it was time for them to put away their photography skills, head back to the locker room and lace up their skates to set out for the awaiting ice and the awaiting task at hand.
Looking out to see the Green Monster as the players took slap shots and the goalies made glove saves during the team's allotted practice time was notably both exciting and astonishing, but once Bentley joins Holy Cross on the ice the Crusaders will have to restrict their eyes from the attention-grabbing surroundings and focus them on the puck and the game. "Being out there is unbelievable. We obviously have to focus on getting two big points against our conference opponent, but at the same time this experience is just unreal," said sophomore Jake Bolton (Ellington, Conn.). "It's certainly exciting and I know myself and all the boys included are extremely happy to be here. At the end of the day though, we have two Atlantic Hockey points on the line and we've got to make sure we leave Fenway with good memories," added senior captain Ryan McGrath (Pittsburgh, Pa.). On top of hoping to defeat Bentley and acquire two important league points, "Coming out with a 'W' would make the experience that much more special," as said by senior assistant captain Shayne Stockton (Rochester, N.Y.).
Though playing in the 2014 Citi Frozen Fenway is undoubtedly an incredible experience that each member of the men's ice hockey team will remember for the rest of their lives, to the team, it's not enough to just skate on the ice and take in the view. After all the built up hype and preparation, the Crusaders are looking to cap off the game with a win.
The Holy Cross men's hockey team will be playing Atlantic Hockey opponent Bentley at Fenway Park on Saturday, Dec. 28 at 6:30 p.m. as part of Frozen Fenway. Tickets are on sale now via www.redsox.com/frozenfenway or by calling the Red Sox Ticket Office at 877-733-7699.
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