Brian Flynn returns home for another outdoor experience
(Lynnfield’s own Brian Flynn speaks with the media at Gillette Stadium during the summer’s press conference. Photo by Adam Bunnell, Bruins Daily)
FOXBOROUGH — At this time four years ago, Lynnfield native Brian Flynn was preparing for his first outdoor hockey experience.
Playing for the University of Maine for four seasons, Flynn is remembered up in Orono for his clutch goals and leadership both on and off the ice. During his four years, Flynn tallied 156 points on 69 goals and 87 assists. One of those goals came when his Maine Black Bears faced off against their archrivals from the University of New Hampshire at Fenway Park.
That goal just happened to be the overtime winner as the victory turned out to be a pivotal point in Maine’s 2011-12 season where they advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. They haven’t returned to the 16-team playoff since.
“It was a warm day, I think it was like 50 degrees out there,” Flynn recalled of the UNH-Maine game at Fenway. “The ice was soft, bouncy, wet, so it was like chip at the wall and shoot at the net, and hopefully you get a bounce. But, I don’t think it takes from the game at all. Once the puck drops it’s competitive and fast and physical.”
Four years later, Flynn returns to the outdoor hockey scene, but instead of playing for his hometown Bruins — like Jimmy Hayes and Frank Vatrano — he is on the other side of the B’s-Habs rivalry along with goaltender and Needham native Mike Condon.
The local subplot adds to the excitement of this year’s Winter Classic, and shows that the state of Massachusetts hockey is getting stronger.
“I think you kind of get Michigan and Minnesota and out east you have the Massachusetts and Boston area that’s kind of hotbeds for hockey in the states,” Flynn said following Thursday’s practice. “A lot of guys kind of train here in the summer, so you meet and mingle with them a little bit.”
From being the Black Bears’ leading scorer to handling third and fourth line duties during his time in the NHL with the Habs and Sabres, Flynn, who enters New Year’s Day with nine points (four goals, five assists) in 39 games, experienced quite a bit in his young career. That could come in handy on New Year’s Day in front of the largest outdoor hockey crowd in New England history.