For me it all started on Wednesday. Temperatures in the teens and the wind blowing but I was one of many that got to skate on the Fenway Park Ice. I’ve skated on the TD Garden ice, and the old Montreal Forum ice, but skating on Fenway ice was quite the experience. Cliché as it is and has been used, it was like I remember skating on the ponds here in Massachusetts. Just remarkable and awesome to be able to do it! Skated the entire hour and took pictures of Pie McKenzie, Derek Sanderson, Ken Hodge, Joe Watson and Dave (The Hammer) Schultz. It was a great day for us old time hockey fans.
On to New Years Day and what a spirited day it was. From the moment I parked my car, for as far as the eyes could see were Bruins fans and Flyers fans. As I walked from Mass Ave and Boylston to the Ballpark, the street were slushy and traffic was a mess. Except for the weather, this could have been a baseball game in July. However, this was a unique event that I’m not sure will be around here for a very long time.
Lots of pomp and circumstance preceding the game with Bobby Clarke on the ice as Honorary Captain for Philadelphia and the Greatest hockey player ever, Mr. Robert Gordon Orr serving the same for your Boston Bruins. The Ballpark belonged totally to the Boston Bruins on this first afternoon of the new decade. All of the usual Red Sox Signage was no where to be found. One of my favorites was where the usual Gulf sign was in the left field bleachers was the great Black NHL insignia.
It was just a great place to be. One of those, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else days and I was one of the fortunate few to be there. And although I could have been up in the press box, I sat with friends outside so I could experience it all.
The game itself was a bit contentious with U.S. Olympian Tim Thomas crosschecking Hartnell while the only Philly goal was being scored. The Bruins were still having their usual problems of scoring goals and on this day of celebration, you had the feeling that once again, the Winter Classic would belong to the road team. The Pittsburgh Penguins had beaten the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout in the first Classic in Orchard Park, NY. Likewise the Detroit Red Wings over the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 at fabled Wrigley Field. But a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the game. Mark Recchi tipped in a Derek Morris shot to tie things up and just under two minutes into overtime, Canadian Olympian Patrice Bergeron would throw a pass to the net that German Olympian Marco Sturm would tip in for the game winner. And Fenway became the scene of bedlam. This scenario could not have been drawn up any better. Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League got what they wanted. A great day weather wise and a game that went into overtime and the home team shining brightly at the end.
Wow. I love this stuff!