I guess I didn’t get the memo.
My destination for a January game between Boston College and Boston University should have been Agganis Arena or Conte Forum, but I was told to go to Fenway Park, so here I am.
I make my way to the press room, where framed photographs of Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski festoon the walls. I frown. No offense to the Splendid Splinter and Yaz, but what the heck have they ever done for college hockey?
Word arrives that the wind chill outside is 11 degrees, snow showers are predicted, and BU will be skating into the wind two out of three periods.
I feel like Alice in a Winter Wonderland, having fallen down a rabbit hole into a world I don’t understand.
But I am (allegedly) a professional, so I’ll do my best to make some sense of this for you, dear reader.
BU is skating from third base to first and BC from first to third. This could mean that all BU runs will be invalidated due to running the bases backwards. How can that be? I look for either Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna or NESN Red Sox commentator Jerry Remy for an explanation, but find neither.
Well, the puck is dropping so we’ll do our best.
In the first inning, John Muse stops Joe Pereira on a partial breakaway up the middle, but Tommy Cross is whistled for cross-checking. Forced to play without their third baseman, BC gives up a run when Muse pulls a Julio Lugo on David Warsofsky’s shot from the point and it trickles over the line. In a scoring change, Warsofsky’s goal is credited to Dustin Pedroia.
A couple innings later, Colby Cohen’s slap shot gets him to third base and Pereira knocks him in from the doorstep for a 2-0 BU lead.
Or something like that.
The game potentially turns in the fourth inning when BU must play without a shortstop, first baseman and designated hitter during a 1:56 five-on-three disadvantage, but the Eagles foul off a couple chances, Terriers’ backstop Kieran Millan strikes out Joe Whitney, and the BU defenders knock down the other hard-hit balls.
Although the temperature has dropped to 19 degrees with a seven-degree wind chill, the umpires won’t be calling this game. In this upside-down world, only a heat wave is cause for concern. A few fans have even taken off their shirts, displaying not only their chests but their frozen brain cells.
But I digress. (Of course, I digress. The game has hit the midway point and I still have yet to get a clue.)
Note to my editor: I swear I did not stop at the brewery before the game.
On a delayed penalty to BC one inning later, Millan skates to the dugout and a pinch runner races onto the field. In the resulting play, Wade Megan shows the hand-to-eye coordination of Kevin Youkilis, swatting the puck out of midair into the Green Monster nets, while freshman defenseman Sean Escobedo channels the goal-scoring prowess of Phil Esposito to record his first career RBI.
The game appears to be over, with BU holding a 3-0 lead. The Terriers’ bullpen seems unlikely to blow this one.
However, BC begins the comeback with a Paul Carey triple down the line and when Brian Gibbons knocks him home, the Eagles head into the seventh inning stretch with all the momentum.
The Eagles get two more opportunities with BU infielders in the penalty box, but can take no more advantage than David Ortiz against the Big Papi shift, and when one of their own goes into the box, the game appears over.
With a chance to put the game away, the BU power play pulls a Buckner, giving up a short-handed goal to Cam Atkinson to make it a 3-2 game.
The Terriers however, refuse to fold like the 1986 Red Sox. Defenders block shot after shot, and Millan shuts down BC like Jonathan Papelbon until the final buzzer sounds.
However, I’m still as befuddled as I was when the game started, if not more. So I head down to the press conferences, figuring that if coaches like Jerry York and Jack Parker can’t clarify things for me, no one can.
Instead, Jerry York throws me for a loop. Commenting on whether the outdoor ice was fast or not, perhaps playing into BU’s hands, he says, “It was more like a running-type game late in the football season in cold weather. The quarterback wasn’t going to make many plays. You need those big linemen and good backs. It was more that type of game.”
Football? Well, that explains it. I wasn’t supposed to go to Fenway Park; I was supposed to go to Gillette Stadium.
When it’s Jack Parker’s turn, he says, “This is something we’ll all remember.”
I sure hope not.