Columnists, Sports

Burn the Boats: Road Trip Anyone? A look toward next year’s schedule

Men’s hockey head coach David Quinn shed some light on the upcoming season. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/ DFP FILE PHOTO

The National Hockey League playoffs may be in full swing, and the semester may be winding to the end, but it’s never too early to look toward next year’s college hockey campaign.

Outside of the normal Hockey East opponents and the Beanpot Tournament, the Terriers will have a unique out-of-conference schedule in 2019. There are two potential “road” trips that have already been circled on my calendar.

First, according to head coach David Quinn at the end-of-the-year banquet last weekend, the season opener will be at Minnesota State University-Mankato October 12th-13th, marking the first-ever trip to Mankato for BU.

The small, hockey-crazed Minnesota town would be a really cool experience for any college hockey fan. From what I have heard, the renovations and improvements to Verizon Center have made the building a great place to watch a hockey game.

I also love the idea of opening the season on a long road trip. Any athlete will tell you the best way to become a “team” is to get on the road and just focus on the games. It takes all the distractions away of having to open the season at home and at the same time, it gives the freshman and new players a real chance to gel and bond.

For anyone actually interested in going, Mankato is about an hour and a half drive from St. Paul. If you’re into sports and are looking for games to watch, with any luck, the Minnesota Twins might be in the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings also host the Arizona Cardinals that Sunday at home in Minneapolis.

The other major road trip on the card is a “little” trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland for something called the Friendship Four. Apparently, Boston is a sister city with Belfast, hence the “friendship.” The tournament has taken place each of the last three seasons with two teams from the ECAC and two from Hockey East.

In game one, BU will play Connecticut and it will count as a league game. On the other side of the bracket, Union and Yale will square off.  In standard tournament proceedings, the winners will advance to a championship game and the losers will play a consolation contest.

Clearly, if you are planning a trip for 2018, this is the one to take. The games will be played the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, making travel absolutely doable. What is it going to cost, might you ask?

A quick look at a few airlines and it doesn’t seem that outrageous to get over there. Something around $600-700 roundtrip. The games will be played at SSE Arena, home to the Belfast Giants, a team where former Terrier Chris Higgins played three seasons.  

Quinnipiac University, Dartmouth College and a pair of games against NCAA newcomer Arizona State University make up the out-of-league slate at Agganis. Although, I would love to see one — if not both — of the ASU games at Walter Brown Arena.

First off, it would be fun to go back over there for a regular season game. Second, while the first game was played at Gila River Arena, game two was back on the ASU campus inside the 765-seat Oceanside Ice Arena, something I imagine Coach Quinn was not too thrilled about. I think this would be a great opportunity to get back on the ice at WBA.

Someday, it might not be next year, but someday BU will play another regular season game at Walter Brown. I don’t know when that will be, but it will be a lot of fun to have that place rocking again.

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