Annie Hogan is about to play the game of her life on the most exotic neighborhood rink you’ll ever find.
This Friday, Hogan and her Northeastern Huskies teammates will clash with the New Hampshire Wildcats in a Winter Classic encore at Fenway Park in Boston.
The game is part of an NCAA double-header, which also features the Boston College and Boston University men’s teams doing battle.
Safe to assume it’s going to be a very special day for all involved, but for a young woman who grew up just 15 minutes from Fenway, in the shadow of the green monster, the excitement escapes description.
“I think it’s going to be the highlight of my life,” Hogan gushed. “I haven’t got married or had kids yet, but I’m guessing it’s going to be up there.”
When it was initially announced the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers were going to stage the latest version of the NHL’s Winter Classic at the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox, Hogan immediately thought it would be cool to add a college game to the itinerary. She just didn’t think it would involve the squad she plays for.
“The first thing you hear is that the Bruins are playing and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if BU and BC’s men’s teams could get a game in there, wouldn’t that be awesome’,” the senior said. “Coming from Boston, that’s what I thought.
“Then in early August I heard we were going to play there and I still said, ‘No, it can’t be.’ You don’t want to get your hopes up. Cool rumor, but what are the chances?”
Hogan, one of three co-captains on the Huskies, was vacationing with her family in California when the call came in from her coach. The contest was happening and she needed to be on site for a summertime press conference.
“Then of course we have the press conference on a 90-degree (Fahrenheit) day and the sun beating down on us and they had us put jerseys on, so it was like, wow, this is the real deal,” she said.
Even at that, the reality that she’d be lacing up her skates in front of family, friends and rabid Northeastern supporters was too much to wrap her head around for a girl who went to Red Sox games every time she got a chance growing up.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Hogan said. “We went there for the press conference and then we went there for another promotional thing and every time you get there and you’re on the field it’s like ‘No, it can’t be.’
“Just to be on the field, it’s something that not many people get to do. To be able to play out there is something else.”
Getting lost in the enormity of the day and the spectacle of the setting is inevitable, but there’s a reason Hogan wears a ‘C’ for her school. This tilt counts in the standings and she knows the Wildcats want to put the cherry on top of on incredible event with a ‘W.’
“I think for warm-ups we’re all going to get chills, not just from the cold,” she said. “At the end of the day we’re looking for two points, it is a league game. We’re going to have a pretty good turnout, I’m sure, so we want to put on a good show, bring the compete level up and hopefully come out with a win.”
Not to mention a memory that lasts a lifetime.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.
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