It was a typical January day when UConn took the ice at Fenway Park. Sometimes the breeze picked up, but it was cold and there was not too much sun.
There was, however, excitement in the air as the players took the ice at the historic ballpark for the first time.
“It never gets old, I’ll say that,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “Seeing the excitement on the players’ faces going out there, I think that’s why we all play the game.”
Junior captain Derek Pratt, originally from Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, was in awe of the experience.
“It was neat just looking around,” Pratt said. “The ice wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t perfect when I was 10 years old skating in my backyard, either.”
The conditions outdoors at Fenway Park are variable and will never be perfect, but the Huskies have a plan.
“I think when you’re playing a game like this, you have to keep it simple, especially early, until you get a feel for your environment,” Cavanaugh said. “It could be totally different tomorrow from what we experienced today.”
Goaltenders also have a unique struggle. While all the players have to deal with the potential glare off of the ice, when a forward or a defenseman can’t see a floating puck, it isn’t going to mean a goal for the other team.
“It’s really different because you can feel the wind and the ice is really soft,” freshman goaltender Adam Huska said. “The sun is in your eyes. It’s really, really different.”
Just as the UConn goaltenders will have that problem, the Maine one will as well. The Husky forwards are ready to get everything on net.
“I think we’re going to try and keep it as simple as possible, just because of bouncing pucks and things like that,” junior forward and Franklin, Massachusetts native Corey Ronan said. “We’re going to try and get the puck deep and definitely get it to the net.”
Assistant coach Joe Pereira, who played in the first Frozen Fenway during his days at Boston University, said the same thing.
“We told the guys [to go to the net] all week this week and the guys had success with that last night,” Pereira said.
UConn scored two goals on Friday in a win against Maine crashing the net on passes from behind the net and another on a deflected puck.
That doesn’t mean that it was all business today, however. There was time to appreciate the experience.
“The visual aspect is so crisp and so vivid,” senior forward Evan Richardson said. “You really just gotta try and take it in. It’s not something that you think you’re going to do but when you get to do it, you gotta feel pretty special.”
Graduate student Brian Morgan also has a personal tie to the game. The Windham, New Hampshire native played in Frozen Fenway his freshman year for Maine, the team he will be playing against on Saturday.
“It was cool to see that [Maine] was on the schedule to play against them at Fenway,” Morgan said. “It kinda goes all full-circle. It’s gonna be special to play against them tomorrow.”
Puck drop is at 1:30 p.m. from Fenway Park. The game will be on NESNplus and will be carried on radio by WHUS 91.7 FM.
Mike Cavanaugh, Derek Pratt, Evan Richardson
Joe Pereira, Brian Morgan, Adam Huska, Maxim Letunov, Corey Ronan