WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Williams College men’s hockey team will be one of the first two NESCAC teams to play a league outdoor game. The Ephs are heading to Frozen Fenway 2014.
"It’s kind of a surreal thing," said Williams co-captain Nick Anderson, who has never played an outdoor game. "Playing in such a historic place, it won’t really seem like reality until we get there. We’re all ecstatic. We can’t wait to get there and go through the experience."
Williams and Trinity will play one of 16 college hockey games at Fenway Park this season. The Ephs and Bantams are scheduled for the second game of a doubleheader on Tuesday, Jan. 7. UMass-Boston and Salem State will play the 4 p.m. opener, with Williams and Trinity set for the 7:30 nightcap. It’s a Williams home game, and was originally scheduled to be played in Lansing Chapman Rink on Saturday, Jan. 11.
"We had not worked with the NESCAC before and we certainly were looking for one of those games, and we know the league has many terrific rivalries to offer," said Fred Olsen, director of special projects for the Boston Red Sox. "We reached out to the league and discussed our preference to host a rivalry. This was a game that fit that bill."
The Williams-Trinity game was the final one of the 16 games scheduled at Fenway. The Frozen Fenway series begins Dec. 28, when Holy Cross and Bentley play.
There will be nine college games and seven high school or prep school games played outdoors between Dec. 28 and Jan. 11. There are two Division I Hockey East men’s hockey doubleheaders, while three of the games will involve Division III men’s teams.
"Just playing outside is a blast, but to be able to play at a venue like Fenway Park, it doesn’t get any better than that," said Williams coach Bill Kangas.
Kangas said that interest in a NESCAC game at Fenway started picking up about three months ago. The Williams coach said he got the official word Friday, Oct. 4.
"I probably didn’t really think about it until it officially happened. I just kind of let it go and let the cards fall where they may," said Kangas. "You hope that it all works out, but you don’t know until it officially does."
This is the third time outdoor hockey has been undertaken at Fenway Park. In 2010, the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime in the Winter Classic, and college hockey took center stage in 2012. The University of Massachusetts played in one of six college games that year.
The winter hockey festival has grown each time out, and Olsen said that would be the case in 2016, when they try again.
"We’re certainly trying to keep it fresh, trying to keep the appeal there," he said. "Secondly, the impact that putting a rink has on our field is significant."
Tickets are scheduled to go on sale for the Williams-Trinity game early next month.
Williams and Trinity played three times last year, with the Ephs going 0-1-1 in the regular season before turning around and beating the Bantams 4-2 in the conference semifinals.
Williams co-captain Paul Steinig, who grew up outside of Buffalo, N.Y., but didn’t go to the first Winter Classic, said playing Trinity in a league matchup just adds to the excitement of being at Fenway.
"All the league games are so important for us. They’re all so heated and every game is close," said Steinig. "I’m excited we get to play a team like Trinity, who we beat in the semifinals last year."