The speculation is over.
A men’s college hockey game at Boston’s Fenway Park between archrivals the University of Maine and New Hampshire will be held on Saturday, Jan. 7.
It will follow a game between the University of Vermont and University of Massachusetts’ men’s teams, according to published reports on the U.S. College Hockey Online website.
Hockey East has scheduled a joint press conference for Friday at 2 p.m. at Fenway Park which will also involve the city of Boston, the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Management.
The conference will include Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, administrators from the league and the schools involved along with head coaches and student-athletes from the four institutions
It will mark the second such venture by Hockey East.
Two years ago, Boston University beat rival and neighbor Boston College 3-2 after a women’s game between New Hampshire and Northeastern won by New Hampshire 5-3.
The event sold out in minutes.
The attendance for the BC-BU game was listed at 38,472 after the women’s game drew 6,889.
That was a week after the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway 2-1 in overtime.
There won’t be an NHL game this time around although the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins will be hosting their finals opponent Vancouver on the same day at 1 p.m. at the TD Garden.
That would probably prompt Hockey East to push the starting time of the Vermont-UMass game back to later in the afternoon to avoid going head-to-head with the Bruins-Canucks game.
Maine and UMass will be giving up home games to play at Fenway.
Maine had been scheduled to host a regular season-ending series against New Hampshire on March 2-3 but the Fenway game will replace one of those two games.
A game with New Hampshire at Alfond Arena is one of the best-attended of Maine’s home games and the revenue, in attendance alone, is in excess of $100,000. It isn’t known if Maine will receive any kind of reimbursement for playing at Fenway.
The last six games between UNH and Maine at Alfond Arena have attracted an average of 5,245 per game. Alfond Arena did hold 5,445, but will lose between 300-400 seats this year as part of a $4.85 million renovation project.
A Hockey East spokesman wouldn’t comment on the Fenway games and indicated that comments from anyone involved in the event will have to wait until Friday’s press conference.
Sun Life Financial underwrote the Fenway games in 2009 but the article in USCHO stated that Hockey East is still looking for a corporate sponsor to underwrite the event. It also indicated that there will be other events like public skating and private functions on the ice surface at Fenway.
In May, Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna acknowledged that the league had been in negotiations with the Red Sox for another set of games at Fenway “ever since the first one “ in 2009.
“We had such a good feeling after the first one,” he said. “We got a good bump out of it. The kids had a great experience.”
He also said Hockey East made money from the venture, although it wasn’t a large amount, and it was divided among the Hockey East schools.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead and UNH coach Dick Umile said in May that they would love to see the game come to fruition.
“It’s a game we’d love to play,” said Whitehead. “And I think it would sell out. Our rivalry with New Hampshire is as good as any rivalry in college hockey.”
Umile added, “It would be awesome. Our rivalry hasn’t gone on as long as BU and BC, but it doesn’t take a back seat to any (rivalry).”