Seated high above the ice, Brice Spaulding throws his arms out as if he wants to hug all of Fenway Park at once.
Down below, the Bruins are celebrating a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Penguins in the Winter Classic. A last-ditch scoring bid by Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin is ruled too late; time expired just before the puck crossed the goal line.
Spaulding is pumped.
“This is the greatest experience I’ve had at a Bruin game ever,” the Concord, N.H., native said. “Once in a lifetime. So much fun. That was just great. What a finish.”
Up in the bleachers, retired Sox bullpen cop Steve Horgan, wearing a Zdeno Chara Bruins jersey, hoists his arms in the air, just as he did when David Ortiz smashed that grand slam in 2013.
What a way to start the new year.
Spend a couple of days around the lyrical little ballpark and it seemed like the players and the fans could not have had more fun.
The mild weather might have helped. Dave Mellor, Fenway’s chief groundskeeper, wore shorts as the temperature hit 50. And he didn’t have to worry about the field or weeds or anything — the NHL installed rows and rows of a cotton-like covering to simulate snow.
On Saturday, the teams had a practice. The highlight of the day was when families joined the players for a skate.
Somehow, grown men morphed into little boys in the fresh air.
“Oh, I could have stayed out there for another seven hours,” said Nick Foligno, here for his first Winter Classic. ”I mean, it would be different if this was last year in Minnesota, when it was below zero.”
Patrice Bergeron loved the family skate.
“I’m seeing a lot of smiles. It’s fun, it’s a lot of great memories for all of us.”
Brad Marchand always danced to a different drummer, so it’s not surprising he stayed out on the ice swaying with 10-month-old daughter Rue until the Zamboni came out.
“Oh, she loved it.”
It was a coming-out party of sorts for Bruins legend Bobby Orr.
Orr didn’t want to talk before throwing out the first puck. Some fans are still upset he endorsed Donald Trump before the 2020 presidential election, calling Trump “the kind of teammate I want.”
Scott and Christina McGuire, loyal Bruins fans, say they don’t agree with him but will cheer anyways.
“I think he’ll get cheered,” said Christina. “I’m trying not to think of his politics.”
Her husband, Scott nodded.
“I’m trying to think about what he did on the ice and not what he did outside the ice,” ”I hope he gets a big cheer for what he did in the ‘70s for the Bruins. I’m going to leave sports to sports and politics to politics.”
When Orr was introduced, there were only cheers — and plenty of them.
Everyone was in good spirits. Hours before the game, the Bruins donned old-time baseball uniforms, bats, and ancient gloves and paraded into Fenway Park.
Sox centerfielder Kiké Hernandez played catch with Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy in front of the Red Sox dugout.
“I’m pumped,” says McAvoy, who grew up on Long Island a Pudge Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Ken Griffey Jr. fan.
“I’m ready to throw it in from centerfield, skip the cut off man and throw it all the way in.”
Bruins fans arrived as usual, wearing players’ jerseys and smiles. The ballpark looked good in black and gold.
And nothing could bother them.
Valet parking at the Commonwealth Hotel in Kenmore Square is $100. The locals laugh and move on.
“That’s Boston,” says a fan in a Penguins jersey surrendering his keys. “Wouldn’t happen in Pittsburgh.”
Fans enjoy the good vibes. The Boston Pops sounds great, with each musician set up with a little heater unit in centerfield. There is a smoking set from the Black Keys. The kids playing hockey in front of the Green Monster are very spirited. If only we could package that energy.
Some fans even shrug off bad sightlines. From some of the lower box seats, it is impossible to see the ice because of the boards.
Five-year-old Kolton Whitehouse from Shirley jumps up and down and cheers while watching the game on the Jumbotron.
“He was a little disappointed but he’s still having a great time,” said his dad.
Fans seated around them said it is worth it just to be there as players parade past them to go on and off the ice.
Michelle Lacerda, from Clayton, N.C., can’t see much of the ice from the third row of the bleachers. But she doesn’t want a refund either.
“We drove 14 hours,” she explained. “I’ll probably be watching it on my phone. But I’m a lifelong Bruin fan, and we wanted to be here.”
Stan Grossfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.