Blaine Byron missed out on a wonderful opportunity his freshman year when the University of Maine men’s hockey team beat Boston University 7-3 in a Frozen Fenway game at Boston on Jan. 11, 2014.
“I was hurt. It was disappointing,” said the Black Bears’ senior left wing and assistant captain, who will get his chance on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 when UMaine takes on the University of Connecticut in a Hockey East game at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox.
The game was originally scheduled for 4 p.m., but was moved up because the New England Patriots are hosting the Houston Texans in an AFC playoff game at 8:15 p.m. New Hampshire and Northeastern now play at 5 instead of 7:30.
Before Byron and the Black Bears (7-10-3, 1-6-1 HE) venture to Fenway, they square off with UConn (8-7-6, 4-3-2 AE) on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
“It should be an exciting week, especially playing at Fenway. Everybody is pretty excited for that but we have a game to take care of before that,” said Byron.
“All of us are focused on Thursday,” said senior defenseman and assistant captain Eric Schurhamer. “There are two important conference points (at stake).”
Schurhamer and senior center and captain Cam Brown are the only two Black Bears who played in the Fenway game against BU and it left a lasting memory. The game featured rain and a lightning delay.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Schurhamer. “There are no words to describe it. It was one of the best hockey experiences I’ve ever had.
“I still vividly remember coming off the ice when there was thunder and they played ‘Thunderstruck’ (by AC/DC). All the fans were going crazy. It was awesome,” said Schurhamer.
“It’s pretty special playing in the Cathedral of Boston,” said Brown, who is from nearby Natick, Massachusetts. “I grew up watching baseball games there as a little kid.
“It’s different. The fans are a ways away. You’re sort of isolated on the rink. The experience was crazy with the rain and the thunder. In the third period, your (skates) were filled with water so the pace was a little slower.”
Schurhamer noted that they make sure the ice is hard and fast. He said the boards are good and there, “isn’t too much behind the glass so there is a lot of give (when you take or give a hit).”
Junior left wing Nolan Vesey grew up in North Reading, Massachusetts, and attended Fenway Park’s first NHL “Winter Classic” in 2010 when the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime.
“It’s going to be a chance of lifetime,” said Vesey. “I watched the Maine-BU game on television and it was cool to see Maine with such a big win over BU.”