BOSTON/LUNENBURG – It was an experience she will never forget.
Madison Beck, 20, of Lunenburg recently placed a little hockey somewhere known for a different sport.
Goaltender Beck stopped 24 shots leading her Holy Cross Crusaders Division 1 women's hockey team to a 3-2 victory over rival Boston University at Fenway Park, the 111-year-old home of the Boston Red Sox. The Crusaders were part of a four-game, two-day university series labelled as the Frozen Fenway on Jan. 6.
The two teams made up the second women's university match-up of the day.
Beck is in her third of four years at the university taking Neuroscience.
"It was such a surreal experience. Something I never imagined, or even realized that it would be something I would be able to achieve," said Beck in an interview from school. "I walked into the stadium and stepped on to the field, looked around and I was just mesmerized by how big it was and realized that this was a moment that no one can ever take away from me. I told myself to just go out there and enjoy everything about it."
She said that it didn't matter if they won or lost this game, but it was about having fun, which is why she started playing hockey in the first place.
Beck and her team were at the park the day before the game and were able to walk around the stadium and get photos, take everything in and have a practise as well. She mentioned they were able to go to the farthest part of the outfield, look back at the stadium and just realize how large the park was.
The day of the game, they arrived early to the park worked on some pre-game preparation and took a bit of time to soak it all up. They ended up being the home team for the event and took over the Red Sox dressing room, which was pretty nice, she commented.
"I knew I had to be ready for the game, but I also knew I couldn't waste an opportunity like this," she said.
Their game started at 6:30 p.m. local time and it was the second women's game of the day, the first featured teams from Harvard and Quinnipac.
The weather was less than ideal with a mix of rain and snow that fell through much of the day.
"When we first came out for warm-up it was almost magical. The snow was falling ,there was a little bit of haze in the air and the lights were on," said Beck. "But that made the ice conditions not so ideal. It kind of felt like I was trying to play street hockey on the ice."
Conditions improved early in the game and Beck said it was like playing in a normal game, but the ice was a little slower, but acknowledged that both teams were playing in the same conditions.
Beck has garnered most of the playing time between the pipes this year. She has played in 17 games up to and including the Fenway Park game and sports a 2.67 Goals Against Average (GAA) and a save percentage of .920. Last year, as a sophomore, she played in eight games and earned a 3.21 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
The team itself has a 3-18-1 record so far this season. With the win, the Crusaders snapped a 14-game losing streak.
"Our record this season is not a winning one, but I don't think it reflects how hard our team works. We have a lot of heart, a lot of passion and we are very gritty and aggressive," she said. "We've been in every single game and we're a team that is tough to play against. Although we haven't been able to pull off many wins this season, we're working hard every day and I just think it was amazing to see all the work we've been putting in lately pay off in a huge game like this."
Beck said the event was a memorable experience in many ways, including playing with some of her team-mates and opponents when she played with the Boston Jr. Eagles during her high school years prior to heading to Holy Cross. The Eagles won two state and a national championship.
Celebrating with them and the rest of her mates, was the highlight amongst highlights of the event.
"The greatest experience was just after we won. Looking up to the crowd, seeing everyone there cheering and having my team-mates surround me," she said. "There was just so much joy, love and passion, smiles and hugs on the ice. We were just so fortunate to experience this with each other."
Although just 20 years of age, Beck has racked up a lot of experience already and she rates this experience as number two in her "favourites" list.
The first was getting a gold medal put around her neck earned after being a part of the winning Team Canada squad at the U18 World Championships in Japan in 2019.
"Nothing, I don't think, will ever top wearing a gold medal, but his was probably the second best just because of the atmosphere. There were so many fans there for us," she said. "It seemed like the crowd was all rooting for us to win, because we were the underdogs going into the game. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face the entire time."
Fenway Park has hosted college games five times since 2010. Following the Jan. 6 doubleheader, two men's games took place the following day with Northeastern taking on UConn and UMass taking on Boston College. All eight teams are members of Hockey East Conference.
This weekend of games followed an NHL match-up between the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins the week prior.