A Brief History of Outdoor Hockey in New England

By: Marisa Ingemi

On Saturday, Boston University will face off against UMass in its third ever Frozen Fenway event. The history of outdoor hockey is prestigious, from the pro to the college ranks.

In 2010, the Boston Bruins were awarded the third ever Winter Classic after the event had been a wild success in Buffalo and Chicago. The Bruins went on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers, in overtime, on a Marco Sturm goal following a flurry of saves from goaltender Tim Thomas. It is only one out of three Winter Classics where the home team was victorious.

Following the 2010 Winter Classic, Boston University faced Boston College in the inaugural edition of Frozen Fenway where the Terriers earned a victory, 3-2. In the win, future Bruins defenseman David Warsofsky scored the first goal of the game for the Terriers. The other tallies came from Joe Pereira and Wade Megan, who just recently made his NHL debut with the St. Louis Blues. The 38,472 fans is the highest attended hockey event at Fenway Park ever.

That same year, New Hampshire women’s hockey defeated Northeastern, 5-3, in front of a crowd of nearly 7,000.

In February of 2011, the “Whale Bowl” was held at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut as the Providence Bruins defeated the Connecticut Whale (now the Hartford Wolfpack), 5-4, in a shootout in front of an AHL-record 21,000 fans. The Hartford Whalers and Boston Bruins alum played in a game four days prior.

It was 2012 when hockey returned to Frozen Fenway without the inclusion of the Bruins or any other pro teams. UMass-Amherst came out with a victory over Vermont and the Dartmouth women defeated Providence. Harvard played in the only ECAC game, where they lost 2-0 to Union. Maine defeated UNH 5-4 in overtime while Boston College topped Northeastern 2-1.

Boston University faced Maine where there was a rain delay in 2014, and weather impacted the entire event. Merrimack faced Providence to a tie, Boston College battled Notre Dame, and UMass-Lowell played against Northeastern in an all-Hockey East affair.

The Bruins became the only team to host the Winter Classic twice when they played at Gillette Stadium against the Montreal Canadiens in 2016. In front of over 67,000 fans, Montreal won commandingly, 5-1.

The Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League and Les Canadiennes de Montreal of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League played in a shortened game the day previous for the first ever professional outdoor women’s contest.

2017 will feature four Hockey East games as the headlining events on consecutive Saturdays. There will also be various high school contests along with an NCAA Division-I women’s game and a Division-III men’s game. The opening event in 2017 was on Thursday between Army and Bentley.

Author: Marisa Ingemi

Marisa covers sports (mostly baseball, hockey, and lacrosse) for ESPN New Hampshire, In Lacrosse We Trust, BU News Service, Inside Hockey, the Patriot League Network, and a wide range of other places.

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