View From Section U: Right On Schedule

The first thing I do every year when the hockey schedule comes out is try to identify which stretch of games could be the biggest detriment to UMass’ chances of success (FYI, that’d be right now for this season).  But being a hardcore UMass football fan and season ticket holder, the second thing I do is see how the two schedules match up.  I also go through the same exercise a little bit later to see how the lacrosse schedule coincides since I also have Gorilla season tickets as well.

I look for any potential conflicts that is going to make me have to choose one or the other between football and hockey.  Most of the time I’ll choose football at home over hockey away, even if the hockey game may actually be taking place closer to my house out here in the Boston area.  Football only plays a handful of games a year and plus the Section U Tailgate has become a great gathering of friends that many now look forward to.  Plus, if the hockey away game is somewhere like BU or UNH, which for a variety of reasons like price and environment are no longer as appealing, it’s an easy decision.  Sometimes it has been possible, if the football game is early enough, to do both a home football game and away hockey.  That’s exactly what will be attempted come November 19th when football kicks off in Amherst at 1pm and hockey plays in Lowell at 7pm.  Sounds like an excellent opportunity to reacquaint myself with Route 2.   I also able to look for the prospect of a football game playing at UNH or URI and a nearby hockey game, like what happened a few years back when UMass played in the Icebreaker at BU when they visited the now defunct Northeastern football team.

But what I’m mostly looking for are those days when the stars align and UMass fans are treated to a football game along Stadium Drive in the afternoon followed by a home hockey game that night.  As someone who, due to mental illness or perhaps some kind of virus, cannot get enough UMass sports, I love when these type of days occur.  There’s nothing like rolling into the McGuirk lots mid-morning, setting up the gear, having some good food and some even better beer, hanging out with friends, and then heading into the stadium for the excitement of the game and sounds of the band.  Then, after the last refrains of “Twilight Shadows” are echoing off the sacred concrete of McGuirk, we head up to the Mullins for some action on the rink.  If you’ve read this blog a whole two or maybe even three times you know I love my pregaming.  I look forward to hanging out and watching the loyal UMass hockey fans pile into the Hangar while enjoying the amazing beer selection and even better wings.  But you cannot beat a good tailgate, followed by the fun and traditions of UMass football to best gear up for a night of hockey.

That’s why the scheduling gods gave us a treat this year.  On Saturday the UMass community will celebrate homecoming with an excellent football/hockey doubleheader (tripleheader technically if you’re into men’s soccer).  Football will host Villanova at 3:30 at McGuirk.  The athletic administration has yet to say exactly what happens to homecoming when the home of UMass football is 90 miles away, so this could be the last true football homecoming in a while.  And it’s being played against a team that UMass has been in some tough battles with over the years in the CAA and prior to that in the Yankee Conference.  When the football game wraps up it’s up to the Bill we go to watch hockey take on the top ranked team in the country, Boston College.  Last(ish) homecoming at McGuirk, forecasted amazing tailgating weather, traditional gridiron opponent, hockey immediately after, hated in-state foe in BC, and they’re #1 in the country to boot?  You simply cannot ask for anything better.  Seriously, if you’re going to get in the car and spend a day at the old alma mater just once this year, how could it not be Saturday?

NBC Sports (aka Versus)  announced today that they’ll televise a number of Notre Dame, ECAC, and Hockey East games this season.  And when I say Hockey East, I mean BU, BC, and Vermont.  Um, ok.  They’ll also carry the Hockey East tournament, but it sounds like New England fans will still see it on a local channel instead.  It sounds like the league is still trying to finalize their agreement with NESN.

A couple of Fenway Park notes today.  First, Biz Jacobs reported on Twitter yesterday that sources indicate Frozen Fenway is officially sold out.  Second, there are rumors out there that BC and Northeastern will move their January 14th game to the Fenway ice.  Sounds good to me, it seems like Northeastern deserves a chance to play in the famous ballpark just a long home run ball away from their campus.

Last January I reported that UMass was interested in British Columbia winger Alex Kerfoot.  I even heard unconfirmed reports that he may have been in Amherst on an unofficial visit last spring.  No matter, he has narrowed his choices down to BC, Harvard, and Yale.

What?  The Minutesharks may be moving?  That sucks.  In related news, keep an eye on Fear The Triangle in coming days to enjoy a special opportunity especially for FTT readers who want to see their former Minutemen in action.