Alex Claverie’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.  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. The following submission comes from Mr. Alex Claverie (Class of 2001, B.S. Chemical Engineering). Mr. Claverie is a former Fill the Steins roommate from Oxford Hall, a well known college hockey aficionado, and an all-around great guy. Frozen Fenway, 2012, in his words…

As I sit down this New Years Day to watch the NHL Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, I am brought back to my experience at the 2012 Frozen Fenway game between the University of New Hampshire Wildcatsand “Your University of Maine Black Bears!  Sure, there are many differences, the weather being the most glaring.  It’s around 12 degrees in Ann Arbor, Michigan, right now, with a wind chill hovering around zero.  Fenway Park was a downright balmy 50 degrees or so at the start of the Maine-UNH contest in January of 2012.  The other big difference is the men on the ice.  The Maine and UNH players were nothing more than broke college kids playing their hearts out, chasing a dream they’ve had since first hitting the ice in the peewee leagues of their youth.  The Winter Classic, of course, is played by a collection of millionaires who are living their dreams of playing in the world’s premiere hockey league, the NHL.

When it comes right down to it, though, the two games aren’t that much different.  Both games take place in iconic stadiums; Michigan Stadium, and Fenway Park.  The players, regardless of their place in life or income levels, are playing the game they love. Most importantly, the fastest, most exciting game in the world is being played just as it started; outside.
Fenway Park is obviously an iconic ballpark, with lots of history having taken place in the shadow of the Green Monster.  However, none of those facts capture the feeling I always get when stepping into the park and getting that first look at the field.  After watching the Red Soxevery summer while growing up, my first trip to the ballpark when I was in college was a very surreal, almost magical moment.  The feeling I got when stepping into Fenway’s stands on January 7th, 2012 for a college hockey game was even more special.  If there was anything followed more closely in my childhood household than the Red Sox, it was UMaine Hockey.  Just as watching the Red Sox all those years bred in me disgust and hatred of the New York Yankees, following UMaine Hockey naturally fostered an extreme dislike of Boston University and Boston College, but especially of the UNH Wildcats.  So yes, Jan 7th 2012 was a very memorable day for me.  It’s not every day that you get to experience a high quality hockey game between two bitter rivals at one of the most iconic sports stadiums of all time.
I’ve been lucky enough to watch a multitude of great Maine-UNH hockey games through the years, many of them overtime thrillers and the Frozen Fenway 2012 contest was no exception.  The atmosphere of course, was unparalleled – the familiar sound of skates cutting the ice, the UMaine Pep Band, “The Screaming Black Bears,” leading us in the familiar cheers we know from the Alfond, all in the shadow of the Green Monster.  Right from the start it was obvious that the Maine fans were more numerous and definitely more raucous.  Maybe it was because of the Maine fans’ intense love of their team, maybe it was our excitement for being on the other side of the Piscataqua Bridge to watch a first rate hockey game in Fenway Park, or maybe we were just wicked pumped to be outside in January and not have to worry about freezing our noses off.  Whatever it was, we blew the UNH fans out of the water.
It appeared as though the game might turn out to be a Maine blow out as the Black Bears made it 4-2 at the start of the third period and had all of the momentum on their side.  UNH battled back, however, and the game was tied at 4 as the third period ended.  In true storybook fashion, Maine pulled out the win 1:29 into overtime on a goal by Brian Flynn.  It was an amazing end to an outstanding all around experience.
The outcome of the game, although important to the team and the fans, was really just the icing on the cake.  The real gem of the day was the experience itself.  No matter the players, something happens when you play the greatest game on earth outside where it belongs.  Every player on the ice that day was once again a 10 year old boy playing their heart out for their imaginary Stanley Cup.  The only difference this time was that they had just over 38,400 fans cheering them on every step of the way.  Regretfully, I won’t be able to attend this year’s edition of Frozen Fenway.  This year Maine will be playing against another bitter rival, Boston University, and I’m sure it will be another experience that those in attendance will not soon forget.  So go to the game, cheer for our team, fill your steins, and “drink to Maine our alma mater, the college of our hearts always”.

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