Frozen Fenway vs. Camp Randall Classic: Comparing Outdoor Hockey Experiences

I had the opportunity to attend both the Frozen Fenway event last month, and the Camp Randall Hockey Classic up in Madison two weekends ago. While both outdoor hockey experiences were great, I wanted to compare the two events to see how my experiences stacked up to one another.

I will judge both games on 7 categories - pre-game experience, seats, game, fan split, game atmosphere, the all-important food, and rivalry between the two teams. Let's get to it.

 

Category 1: Pre-game Experience. Before the Frozen Fenway game between BC and BU, I spent about an hour eating dinner and watching the women's game across the street at Cask 'N Flagon. Cask 'N Flagon was crowded but not annoyingly so. Pre-game activities largely went off without a hitch. Not so for my pre-game experience at Camp Randall. Wisconsin fans are used to coming to Camp Randall and tailgating in the parking lots before football games. It was too cold for tailgating last weekend, so most Badger fans took shelter in the bars surrounding the stadium. This caused the lines at all the bars around the stadium to be ridiculously long. I waited in line at Stadium Sports Bar for a while before giving up and heading back down to Regent Street. The only problem was that the lines at the other bars down on Regent Street were just as long as the line at Stadium Sports Bar. In desperation, I ended up at Rocky Rococo for pre-game festivities, drinking pitchers of beers. For those of you that don't know (I didn't either), Rocky Rococo is a chain of pizza places a la Pizza Hut. So, yeah.

Advantage: Frozen Fenway

 

Category 2: Seats. A plus. Selling out Fenway Park for an outdoor hockey game between Boston's two best college hockey programs. Not so great. That meant a number of attendees - me included - sat in dead center field, about as far as you could get from the playing surface. It was a struggle to see much of the game, with many of the fans using the center field Jumbotron to watch the action. If you weren't an avid fan of hockey and only loosely understood the game, it was nearly impossible to follow along. At Camp Randall, Wisconsin sold most, if not all, of the lower bowl, except for the benches at field level on either sideline (those seats likely had pretty bad sight lines). Given the higher vantage point of the seats at Camp Randall, it was much easier to watch the game.

Advantage: Camp Randall Classic

 

Category 3: Game. As far as the actually game went, certainly Frozen Fenway left a lot to be desired (since the Eagles lost the game 3-2). Boston University dominated much of the first two periods and only let BC crawl back into the game in the third period. Sadly, the same can be said for Wisconsin-Michigan. Michigan led the game 2-1 late into the third period, when Badger defenseman Brendan Smith scored two late power play goals to give the home team a 3-2 non-conference victory. After watching the replay after the game, however, I can't believe that the referees called both those penalties giving Wisconsin two power plays very late in the game. In any other game, the referees probably swallow the whistle down the stretch and let the teams play. The fix was in? Probably.

Advantage: Frozen Fenway

 

Category 4: Fan Split. The Frozen Fenway event probably had a healthy 60-40 split of Boston University fans to BC fans. At Camp Randall, maybe 10 percent of the fans were Wolverine fans. I guess this is understandable given that it was a home game for Wisconsin, but perhaps Michigan fans didn't travel to this game in protest of an otherwise forgettable football, basketball and hockey season?

Advantage: Frozen Fenway

 

Category 5: Game Atmosphere. As I mentioned in my game write-up, Fenway Park's proximity to BU's campus created a great game atmosphere. Kenmore Square was hopping with all the local bars full of Eagles and Terriers fans. This spilled over into Fenway Park come game time. Both schools bands traded songs, getting their side to cheer loudly. It snowed quite a bit for most of the first period. Contrast this with Camp Randall, where 50,000+ rabid Badger hockey fans cheered on their side for most of the game. One of the trademark Badger football traditions - the playing of House of Pain's Jump Around - also spilled over into the outdoor hockey game experience during the third period, with all 55,000 (including Michigan fans) going crazy, jumping up and down and singing the song. Sounds cheesy, right? Maybe a little. But I have to say it is one of the best in-game fan traditions around. See for yourself.

Advantage: Camp Randall Classic

 

Category 6: Food. Whenever you go to Wisconsin, you have to get a bratwurst. When in Rome, right? I was also recommended to go to Ian's Pizza on State Street after the game. Ian's is known for its unique pizza flavors like this week's special flavor, French Kiss - "pizza topped with strips of house-made French toast and local breakfast sausage, drizzled with real maple syrup." Heart attack optional. At Fenway, I had a ballpark pretzel and ate dinner at Cask 'N Flagon. Even though Camp Randall didn't serve beer, I give the slight edge to the Wisconsin game. Eating French Kiss or Mac 'N Cheese pizza is simply a rare experience.

Advantage: Camp Randall Classic

 

Category 7: Rivalry. Wisconsin-Michigan is a nice little non-conference hockey matchup between two Big Ten schools, but nothing can really match the intensity of Boston College vs. Boston University on the ice. Was a movie made about the Wisconsin-Michigan rivalry? No? Didn't think so.

Advantage: Frozen Fenway

 

There you have it. Frozen Fenway wins 4-3. I greatly enjoyed my experiences at both outdoor hockey games this year, but nothing can top seeing your team play an outdoor hockey game in one of the most iconic stadiums in all of professional sports (the game's final result be damned).

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