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Why I Went to New England in January for Fun

Jan 17, 2014, 9:56 AM EDT

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Anna Gonzalez, the official 2013-14 hockey beat writer for the Irish UNDerground blog, is currently a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Anna will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and stories from inside the team circle. You can follow Anna (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

“So what are you doing up here in January?” I’m well aware that New England isn’t your typical Christmas vacation spot, but I’m not the most conventional person. When my dad called me in November asking if I’d like to go to Boston over Christmas break as my birthday/Christmas gift, I knew exactly why he thought I’d like to go: Frozen Fenway. Over the last two years, I’ve fallen so in love with the sport of hockey, that I was not only willing, but elated, to go sit outdoors in 20-degree weather to watch it. (In my defense, I’m not the only crazy one. 105,491 people went to the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.)

Watching weather reports leading up to the trip, I started wondering if I’d even be able to go. Our flight on January 3rd was scheduled to fly out of Wichita (Kan.) into Chicago Midway, where we’d switch planes and then we’d be off to Boston. Winter Storm Hercules had been raging and dumped almost two feet of snow in Boston the day before. When we checked our flight, almost every one going into Boston was cancelled, but some act of God rendered ours on time. We landed at Logan International that evening—our only hiccup being that our flight out of Chicago was crewless for a few hours. From what I’ve heard, even the team had more trouble getting in and out of Chicago than I did. I guess I got pretty lucky on that front.

source:  I’ve never seen baseball in Fenway. That’s something I’ll have to save for a different season. But Red Sox or none, Fenway was everything I expected. It has a lot of character and an air of memory in it. You can see it on TV and it’s much less impressive than it is in person. Hanging in the stadium is a jersey with “617” on it, reminding spectators of Boston’s strength in light of April’s tragic events during the Boston Marathon. The Green Monster truly is monstrous and the sound of the organ sews every piece of the experience together perfectly.

Boston College is the first team I ever watched Notre Dame hockey play, which made this game just that much more fun to watch. Notre Dame trailed by a two-goal deficit for the first period, but caught up and took the lead in the last two periods, but at the last buzzer, Boston College held the lead and won, 4-3. The great thing about the BC/ND rivalry in any sport is the fact that we’re both Catholic schools. (The funniest thing I overheard while in Fenway was, “Talk about a bunch of frigid Catholics.” It was so clever I wasn’t even offended. Plus the guy who said it had a really great Boston accent, which made it amusing to listen to.) It’s probably the most passive-aggressive rivalry I’ve ever experienced.

Outdoor hockey is something to behold. It’s how ice hockey began, so it just seems right. Clearly, there’s something attractive enough about it to pull hundreds of thousands of people outdoors in the middle of the winter. Would I go again? Definitely, but I’d make sure I was a little more prepared. I highly recommend that anyone go watch outdoor hockey at least once, but here’s a bit of advice: wear a minimum of 3 layers, and make sure at least one of them has some wool in it. If you do that, you’ll have the time of your life. And it won’t take you that long to thaw out.

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