High school notebook: St. Paul’s hockey heads to Fenway
An ice-grooming machine cleans the outdoor rink before the New Year's Day Winter Classic NHL hockey game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins at Fenway Park in Boston, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere (48) skates with the puck as Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, right, defends during the second period of the New Year's Day Winter Classic NHL hockey game on an outdoor rink at Fenway Park in Boston, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Brooke Avery has an idea what it will be like to walk across the diamond at Fenway Park and glide onto the ice at Frozen Fenway. She was there Saturday night watching the Hockey East doubleheader and imagining her time to skate where greats from Zdeno Chara to Ted Williams have played.
That time comes tomorrow, when Avery and the St. Paul’s School girls’ hockey team take on The Governor’s Academy at the fabled ballpark.
“This is like a dream come true,” said Avery, a lifelong Red Sox fan, as she tried to warm up inside Fenway on Saturday night. “We were joking about it … how sweet it would be if the World Series trophy would be there. And I’m hoping we get to dress in the Red Sox locker room. I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s going to be incredible.”
The anticipation has been building since early fall, when St. Paul’s learned of its inclusion in Frozen Fenway’s Independent School League day. Big Red is the only high school team from outside of Massachusetts to be included, and is the only girls’ game in tomorrow’s quadruple-header.
“Someone from Fenway approached our athletic director this fall and asked if we’d be willing to play, and we said absolutely,” Coach Heather Farrell said. “It’s quite an honor to be chosen.”
As a Canadian transplanted into New England, Farrell has become a Red Sox fan. But with so many of her players having been born into Red Sox Nation, she knows what this means to them.
“I was excited to spread the news to the team when it got finalized,” Farrell said. “We have a number of New England kids on the team, and for them to be able to go play at this venue is extraordinary. The opportunity is amazing.”
Avery, a Loudon resident who has already committed to play next year for the University of New Hampshire, is just one of a handful of Capital Area natives on the St. Paul’s roster. Madison Crutchfield, Hannah Hirschfeld and Isabel Stoddard, all from Concord, and Jenna Rheault from Deering are integral parts of a Big Red team that has started out this season at 9-0-0 after going 23-2-1 last year and reaching the New England semifinals for the first time in program history. And Gilford’s Shayna Tomlinson, who will play for RPI next season, Amanda Paine (Moultonborough), Jessica Cloutier (Bedford) and Miriam Eickhoff (Hanover) make it half the roster from the Granite State.
“We got an email from our coach and I had to read it a few times just to believe it. I was so stunned,” Stoddard said. “… It’s so amazing to have this experience, and it’s a great opportunity for the St. Paul’s program, as well.”
The game against Governor’s is a league game, so Farrell is treating it the same as any regular game, with a few exceptions, of course. Like acknowledging that the fans will be quite far from the ice, making sure the players are prepared for the outdoor conditions, and adjusting game strategy depending on the quality of the ice.
Fenway is no stranger to this, however. The park has been hosting hockey since the NHL’s Winter Classic came to Boston four years ago. This year, the 17-day event that runs through Monday includes seven high school games and nine college games, as well as public skating and sledding on a ramp built in front of the Green Monster in left/center field.
“For our seniors to have this opportunity before they leave and add to quite a legacy they’re leaving behind them, it’s such a big opportunity that I’m really, really excited for them,” Farrell said. “And it’s great exposure for the girls’ game. Our game has changed so much, so for fans of hockey to see high school girls’ prep hockey in that venue, it’s exciting. People will be surprised how good that hockey can be.”
“It’s something I never expected,” said Avery, who’s making her way down the list of Boston sports venues after having played at the Garden between periods of a Bruins game as a Concord Youth Hockey squirt. “I never thought about (playing at Fenway), it was never a thing until a few years ago. We’re really lucky.”
St. Paul’s plays at 1:30 p.m., with gates opening at 12:30. Tickets can be purchased through the Red Sox website at redsox.com/frozenfenway.
“I’ve been watching the Red Sox ever since I was really young,” Stoddard said, “and I’ve always dreamed of sometime playing on that field. Who knew it was going to be hockey.”
Ever play paintball? Ever cross-country ski? Ever do both at the same time?
The Kearsarge and Belmont ski teams will when they take part in a paintball biathlon on Jan. 28 at Gunstock.
“The kids get a kick out of it. They look forward to it all year,” said James Doneski, one of Kearsarge’s coaches. “It’s something that’s really taken off the last four or five seasons. (Paintball biathlons) have cropped up all over the place.”
Based on the Olympic biathlon, skiers race a lap then enter a central staging area, where paintball guns await. They shoot five times at targets set about 10 yards away, then set off on another skiing lap. Unlike Olympic biathlon, where competitors must ski a penalty loop for each target missed, these skiers will be awarded time bonuses based on targets hit.
“It’s a nice hook to get more kids involved (in cross-country skiing),” Doneski said.
But don’t expect too many sure-shots. Paintball guns, Doneski said, are famously inaccurate. He likened the trajectory to a curveball – however the ball is spinning as it comes out of the barrel of the gun, it will curve in that direction.
“It’s a bit of a prayer, but it doesn’t bother the kids too much,” he said. “It adds a level of randomness to it. They get excited if they can plug more than a couple of targets.”
Wizards at MV
The Harlem Wizards basketball team will be taking the court at Merrimack Valley High on Feb. 5 as part of a fundraiser for the family of MV student Haley Roy, who was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma.
The school nurses came up with the idea as a way to help Roy’s family offset the medical costs. And through the help of a local representative of the Wizards, they were able to secure a date when the MV gym was available.
The Wizards combine ball-handling magic and high-flying offense with comedic antics as they take on teachers and administration from each of the schools in the MV school district.
Tickets for the 7 p.m. game are being sold at Alan’s Restaurant in Boscawen and Capital Sporting Goods across from the state prison in Concord, and are available online at harlemwizards.com. Cost is $10 for students and $12 for adults in advance, or $12/$14 at the door.
(Sandy Smith can be reached at 369-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)