There's a hockey game in Boston Friday night. Saturday night, there are two in Boston.
Even Sunday. There's a hockey game on Sunday, too.
At this point, I regret if you've raced to Twitter or Google News to greet the long-awaited announcement that Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr are shaking hands somewhere, pretending they wouldn't love to deliver a chokeslam to the other. No, the National Hockey League has still not comported itself as we expect them to. Teemu Selanne's farewell tour is still on hold. The Tuukka Rask experiment as well. The lockout is still on, kids. Sorry.
But, like I said, there is hockey in Boston this weekend. It's not the NHL, and I know we all love the NHL. The best players in world. The fastest game on Earth. You miss it. We get it, but there is hockey for you. Many may follow along with the AHL in these situations or keep an eye on what's going in the myriad European league your favorite players opted to escape to temporarily. These may suffice, but there's another option for people around the country -Boston, in particular, more than any other city.
Friday night at Agganis Arena on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Boston University hosts Massachusetts in the first of three meetings between the clubs this season. Twenty-four hours later, New Hampshire heads to Northeastern and Bentley travels to Harvard. And Sunday afternoon Boston College and Massachusetts-Lowell play as well.
Four games in four unique rinks all within, more or less, one city. As some of you may know, I spend my weekends and a handful of weeknights during these coldest months covering college hockey.
For all intents and purposes, the game is no different. Heck, they don't even have the stupid trapezoid. There are ties, though, and I know most of you hate those for some reason. Still, give college hockey a chance, if you haven't already. For many of you who attended a college or university with a Division I program, you understand the appeal of the college game beyond even the hockey. The crowds and the traditions. The arenas and atmosphere. The things that make college hockey in Boston and New England as much a part of the game in this region as the Bruins.
If you're at Agganis Arena on Friday, you'll see BU coach Jack Parker honored for his 40th year leading his alma mater's hockey program. The events surrounding BU hockey in the last year rightfully clouded Parker's legacy and the program's allure to an extent. Still, give BU and UMass a chance. Maybe you have a buddy who went to BU or just want to have a few beers and watch a game. Either way, there is a hockey game in Boston Friday night.
The next day, Bentley and Harvard play at Harvard's old rink on the Allston-Cambridge line. Ted Donato fans? The Crimson are coached by old No. 21, and he's got a pretty good side assembled this season. On the other side of the city, New Hampshire and Northeastern play in the oldest dual-purpose rink in the world. Matthews Arena, formerly Boston Arena, is the old home of both the Bruins and the Celitcs. Banners still hang in honor of the rink's former tenants. Beyond that, Matthews is the one of the best place I've ever watched a hockey game.
Then Sunday, if you're not tied up watching the Patriots play in London or the Bills lose to whoever they're playing, head over to Chestnut Hill and watch defending national champion Boston College host UMass Lowell. Aside from the absurd talent level on display between these two teams, it's hockey. It's fast. It's contested, and it's not going anywhere. If you're not an alumnus or alumna of one of the 20 Division I programs in New England, choosing a team isn't easy. But why choose a team? Head to Agganis Friday night and watch Bruins draft pick Matt Grzelcyk play for BU and the Bright Center on Saturday to see fellow B's prospect Alex Fallstrom. Or head to Conte Forum on Sunday and give Canadiens draft pick Colin Sullivan an early preview of the rivalry we all miss.
The lockout will end eventually, and many of us will welcome the NHL back when it does. Hockey, though. Hockey never ends. Not in Boston anyway.