FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Massachusetts State Police escorted the Montreal Canadiens' team bus to practice Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
It was fitting that Ted Condon led the motorcade.
Ted is not only a sergeant in the violent fugitive apprehension section of the State Police, he's also the father of Canadiens starting goaltender Mike Condon, who will start Friday against his hometown team, the Boston Bruins, in the 2016 NHL Winter Classic.
Mike, 25, of Holliston, Massachusetts, was told Thursday morning that he was starting.
"It's an honor," he said after the team's practice. "Yeah, it's an honor for me to go out there. At the end of the day, it's another game, another two points. Any time you get the nod you just want to help your team get the best chance they can to win."
Habs coach Michel Therrien said Mike earned the start.
"We talked about it yesterday with (goaltending coach) Stéphane Waite, and, first of all, Michael deserves to play," Therrien said Thursday. "He did really well the last two games, and we got to consider, too, the fact that he is from here. But the most important thing is he deserves to play [tomorrow] because of the way he's been playing the last two games."
While Mike focuses on trying to stifle the Bruins, two busloads of his family and friends will be tailgating, New England Patriots style, in the parking lots outside the stadium Friday. But when the puck drops, all will be in their seats wearing the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.
"I usually don't like watching the games. I don't enjoy it, unless we're up big," Ted said. "We're just hoping for the best. I'll send up a few prayers tonight."
It's been an unlikely ride for Mike. He was thrust into the spotlight this season after Canadiens No. 1 goalie Carey Price suffered a lower-body injury in late October and missed nine games. Mike was given the opportunity to start, and he went 5-2-2 during that span. When Price re-aggravated the injury on Nov. 25 (he remains sidelined), Mike was back in the No. 1 role.
In the meantime, fellow goalie Dustin Tokarski has chipped in, and the Canadiens recently acquired Ben Scrivens as a backup plan. Mike played well and led Montreal to a 4-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 28 that solidified his start for the Winter Classic.
His teammates understand how important this is for Mike, and captain Max Pacioretty said there's extra motivation.
"Growing up not far from here and having your son achieve this goal, we could see how special it is for [Ted Condon]," Pacioretty said. "It gives me a little bit more motivation because this is real life. At the end of the day, to see his father that proud and for him to come home and be able to play in front of his friends and family at this type of stage, it means a lot to him.
"It's something we can build off and use as a little bit [of] motivation to go out there and play better in front of him than we have been lately."
Mike Condon with dad Ted and brother Zach. pic.twitter.com/wDBVQ9YsFv— Joe McDonald (@ESPNJoeyMac) December 31, 2015
Standing outside the Canadiens' locker room at Gillette Stadium, Ted was in full police uniform, and his son, Zach, has also been along for the ride.
"We're numb by all of this," Ted said. "It's just an unbelievable ride that we're on. We're just hoping for the best."
Zach has been following the team around for the past few games.
"It's been really exciting. It's been a whirlwind that's for sure," he said. "It's been some high points, some low points but we just try to stay even-keeled through the whole process. It's been a real cool experience. Being here in the house that Brady and Belichick built is really cool, a really cool experience."
Normally, when the Condons have been in this building, they're sitting nearly in the last row of the stadium for Patriots games.
On Friday, Mike will lead his team onto the ice at Gillette and play in front of 70,000 fans.
"Now you're down here, it puts things in perspective," Mike said. "Just kind of nice and happy to be here."