U.S. women’s team enjoys Fenway workout

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Associated Press
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
— When the U.S. women’s hockey team got together to exchange Christmas gifts and make plans for the final stretch before the Olympics, the coaches had a little surprise: They were adding one more practice to the Boston leg of the trip.

But this wasn’t a workout, it was a wonder.

“It was definitely the best Christmas present of the year,” goalie Molly Schaus said Monday on the ice at Fenway Park.

The NHL turned Fenway into a hockey rink for the Winter Classic, an annual New Year’s Day game that has turned into one of the highlights of the regular season. The Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime in this year’s Classic, and the rink has rarely been silent since then.

On Friday there will be a hockey doubleheader—the Northeastern and New Hampshire women in the afternoon and the men’s teams from Boston University and Boston College at night.

The U.S. women played an all-star team from the East Coast Athletic Conference in Hamden, Conn., on Sunday night. The squad was flying out of Boston after practice for a game today against the University of Wisconsin, where U.S. coach Mark Johnson played, and where he coached the Badgers to the NCAA championship in Boston last season.

“For me, it brings a lot of memories back,” Johnson said.

Working with the ECAC and the Red Sox, the American women got a little more than an hour of ice time on Monday morning, just before workers from a local hospital—and Red Sox sponsor—filed in for their chance to skate. After the players cleared the ice, Johnson chatted with “Miracle on Ice” teammate Mike Eruzione and former U.S. women’s Olympic coach Ben Smith.

“It’s a great break for them. It’s a long season and it’s good to have a fun practice,” said Eruzione, who has spent much of his time since winning the gold medal in 1980 as an inspirational speaker and was planning to speak to this year’s team on Monday. “I’ll tell them to enjoy the experience, because you never know if it’s going to happen again.”

Forward Julie Chu didn’t need to be told.

“I don’t think we ever imagined we’d get a chance to skate at Fenway Park,” she said. “Think this is such an amazing setting. I enjoy just soaking it up.”

Chu is the NCAA all-time leading scorer, winning the 2007 Patty Kazmaier award as the top player in college hockey. She already has won Olympic silver and bronze medals, but practicing in Fenway gave her a sense of what it will be like to play Canada, the two-time defending gold medalists, in front of their home crowd in Vancouver.

“You can appreciate the excitement of the fans,” she said. “Canada’s a hockey hotbed. Being able to play there in front of a crowd that’s excited about women’s hockey is unbelievable.”

Last updated: 12:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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