Matt Grondin’s ‘One Steining Moment’ : Frozen Fenway, 2012

Leading up to Frozen Fenway 2014, we here at Fill The Steins are pleased to bring you a few posts in our ‘One Steining Moment’ series, recalling previous visits to Frozen Fenway.  Fans will remember the Black Bears’ thrilling OT win against UNH in 2012’s tilt; perhaps you’ll also remember that it was a high of nearly 50 degrees that early January day.  But by the time the teams hit the ice, things were cool, and hockey at Fenway felt right.  We hope these looks at the past will build excitement for this year’s match-up, and get you in the mood to Fill The Steins on January 11, 2014.

In January 2012, I’d just moved back to Maine two months earlier.  You know… FROM BOSTON.  (No complaints – it’s still only two hours.). But boy, that game woulda been easier to get to when we were two miles away from Fenway Park.  But hey.  We had the tickets, so we arranged a sitter for our lil’ Black Bear and headed down.  

From living in Beantown for the better part of a decade, Mrs. G and I drew upon our vast experience at Sox games and parked a little way down Comm Ave, where there’s free parking at meters after six.  And if it’s cold (it wasn’t), you can hop on the #57 bus for an even quicker trip right to your parking spot.  A quick bite and many brews were had with old Boston friends and my younger brother and sister-in-law (both the pride of the UMaine Music Program, I’ll add…) at Cornwall’s, which is across Kenmore Square from Brookline Ave (which takes you right to Fenway).  Cornwall’s isn’t Cask n Flagon or Game On, but for being so close to the Park, it’s also not jammed with massive crowds, either.  

Properly…prepared, if you will, we headed into the park.  Fantastic seats, maybe 15ish rows directly behind the goal on the first base line.  Of course, we were hoping for a UMaine thrashing of the Wildcats, but the night was already a success.

The first period finished 1-1, and ended after a looooong scoring drought followed an early goal for each side.  This one didn’t really feel like an instant classic to many, but the mood was fantastic all around, just the same.

But then the second period hit, and HOLY BANANAS T. BEAR!!! UNH scored first to make it 2-1, but the Black Bears got two in lightning-quick succession only a minute later.  (Literally, about 60 seconds, if my memory holds up…)  So, 3-2, Maine.  This second round let loose on the Fenway Fans, with lots of scoring, some – shall we say, spirited? -confrontations, and I’m fairly sure I even remember a puck clearing the glass and being caught by a fan down the third base line like so many foul-ball-bouncers off the bats of Orioles and Yankees in the summertime.

The third was a mirror image – quick scoring, and a lot of it.  Maine scored almost before the coaches had even sat down on the bench; then UNH reeled off a couple of quick ones to make it 4-4.  Then I remembered to breathe.  Wow.  

Like UMass-Vermont earlier that afternoon, the Black Bears and Wildcats were headed for extra hockey.  And Bananas help you if you ducked into the restroom or went for refreshment, because – AGAIN – the scoring happened in a blink.  Before two full minutes ticked off the OT clock, UMaine found the net and that was that.  The crowd, which was better than half Maine-iacs, went appropriately nuts.  What a game.

After a little more celebrating, we called it a night, thankful we made the trip, and thankful to be Black Bears.  Can’t wait for the next round – complete with a giant centerfield sledding hill!  See you there!


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