Fans at least can fall back on big-time college game

The Nhl's Lost Season

Boston Reaction

February 17, 2005|By Kim Phelan | Kim Phelan,SUN STAFF

Though many NHL fans saw yesterday's announcement of the season's cancellation as the death knell for pro hockey, Boston fans took it somewhat in stride.

With the abundance of games here between top-ranked college teams, Bostonians will be able to satisfy their appetite for hockey, though admittedly it won't be the same.

Meghan King of the city's Charlestown neighborhood knows that avid fans will find another team to fill the void.

"Boston is tradtionally a hockey town," she said, "but because of the popularity of college hockey in this area, I don't think people are missing the NHL as much as other cities. We have some great nationally ranked hockey in this area and there are a lot of tournaments held locally, so there is a lot of hockey to watch still."

Her sentiments were echoed by others. While the fans mourn the loss of the Bruins for the season, they won't be left out in the cold.

Last week, four Boston college teams competed in the Beanpot Tournament, a 53-year-old tradition that showcases some of the nation's best collegiate players.

Four of the country's top 15 collegiate teams call the Bay State home.

But, said Sean Heffernan of Boxford, Mass., Boston is still "a place where [pro] hockey will be missed far more than anywhere else, and when it comes back it will still be great. College is just a substitute until professional hockey comes back."

And, for Heffernan and others, there is also plenty to celebrate about other sports in Beantown.

"I think that Boston fans are awfully distracted right now by the [Red] Sox and the [New England] Patriots and the big Bruins fans are moving towards other sports. Not only are these other sports playing, but they're winning."

Many Bostonians are too busy basking in the glow of the championships to be overly upset with the NHL situation.

"People are still reeling from the Red Sox and Patriots wins," said Bostonian Melissa Tahan. "If you walk into any 7-Eleven, they're still selling commemorative World Series stuff."

And with titles to defend, there are other things to keep the fans busy. "Boston has always been a baseball city," said Mark McNamara of Peabody, Mass.

"I think people in Boston are more worried about which pitchers and catchers are going to report to spring training than about hockey right now."

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