Frozen Fenway attendance based on two games, Hockey East official says

Posted Jan. 09, 2012, at 9:01 p.m.

There may have been empty seats at Fenway Park for the Sun Life Frozen Four doubleheader at Fenway Park on Saturday night but the crowd listed at 38,456 was legitimate because it was based on ticket sales and credentials supplied by Hockey East, according to Hockey East director of public relations Pete Souris.

And league officials were elated with the turnout, the weather and the games themselves, said Souris.

Maine beat archrival New Hampshire 5-4 in overtime in the nightcap after UMass edged Vermont 3-2 in overtime in the opener.

“How could you not have left the park with positive energy after that?” said Souris. “It was like a spring night, the games couldn’t have been better and you had [38,456 on hand] with three schools involved that are at least a 2½-hour drive from Boston. We were thrilled.”

He also pointed out that none of the four teams began the doubleheader among the league’s top four teams in the standings but they still attracted 38,456.

He said the empty seats were the result of the fact that there were four sets of fans and not all of them stayed for both games.

The tickets were good for both games.

So some Maine and New Hampshire fans didn’t attend the opener and some UMass and Vermont fans didn’t stay for the second game, he noted.

Souris said when the announcement was made listing the four teams in the Sun Life Frozen Fenway doubleheader in August, there were several skeptics that questioned whether it would be successful without a Boston-based school involved.

“But this shows you how strong the support is for the teams in our league and how strong the league is,” said Souris, who praised the crew for the terrific job they did maintaining the ice.

It was 59 degrees when they dropped the puck for the first game.

One of the fans who was able to attend thanks to an act of kindness was Salem State men’s hockey coach Bill O’Neill, father of Maine senior defenseman and co-captain Will O’Neill.

Salem State was scheduled to visit the University of Southern Maine for a Saturday night game but O’Neill asked USM coach Jeff Beaney about moving the game to Sunday so he could watch his son play and Beaney honored his request.

The first Frozen Fenway doubleheader was held on Jan. 8, 2010, and featured a women’s game between New Hampshire and Northeastern followed by a men’s game between archrivals Boston College and Boston University.

The attendance listed after Boston University’s 3-2 win over Boston College was 38,472. The New Hampshire women won the opener 5-3.

There will be a Dartmouth-Providence women’s game at 3 p.m. Tuesday and a Boston College-Northeastern men’s game at 4 p.m. Saturday. It has been moved up from 6 p.m. so people can watch the New England Patriots playoff game against Denver at 8 Saturday night.

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