By Mike McMahon
---- — BOSTON — Merrimack College senior Mike Collins is a Boston kid through and through.
One of the finalists for Hockey East’s Player of the Year last season, Collins grew up in Roslindale and played at one of the meccas of high school hockey, Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury.
This January, Collins and the rest of his Merrimack College teammates will skate on temporary ice, affixed to the infield of Fenway Park, arguably Boston’s crown jewel.
The Warriors will kick off a 16-day event at Fenway on Jan. 4 when they take on Providence College at 4 p.m. Following the conclusion of that game, Boston College plays Notre Dame with Northeastern, UMass Lowell, Boston University and Maine playing in a pair of games the following weekend.
All games will be televised on NESN.
“I got goosebumps just thinking about it,” Collins said yesterday during a media gathering for the event at Fenway Park.
“The season can’t get here soon enough. It’s special for the players to have something like this but also the fans, to be able to come out here and be part of this event, it’s great for them as well.”
It will be the third set of games at Fenway in four years; the first Frozen Fenway launched in 2010 in conjunction with the NHL’s Winter Classic. In 2012 Hockey East and Fenway Sports Management hosted another set of games.
Friday’s event was hosted by Fenway Sports Management, Hockey East and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
“I’m sure our guys are excited. When they had the first event, they had a night where Hockey East could bring their families,” said Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy. “I remember bringing my family down and being excited about it, but it didn’t really hit me until I got on the ice.
“I hit the ice and I was like, ‘Whoa, this is really cool.’ That’s when it hits you. I think when our guys hit the ice they’ll really get a sense for it.”
Merrimack’s enrollment is swelling. Two years ago it was 1,800, this year it will be 2,500 and in the near future 3,000.
“I don’t think people realize how quickly our school is growing, and with that, our fan base,” Dennehy said. “We will be bringing a bigger bus than we have in the past, that’s for sure. Add that to the fact that Andover Youth Hockey is the largest youth program in the country, and now our partnership with the Islanders Hockey Club, there will be a lot of blue and gold down here.”
Dennehy also said Merrimack hopes to host its annual alumni game on Fenway’s ice.
Tickets for Frozen Fenway 2014 will go on sale to the general public on Friday at noon. Alumni and current students at participating schools can get tickets now through a special pre-sale. Merrimack fans should contact the Merrimack ticket office (978-837-5324) for more information.