BOSTON — As odd as it may seem, Harvard might have preferred a different opponent in the first round of the Beanpot.
The Crimson have faced off against five Hockey East foes this season, with some unusual results. Against teams that are ranked in the top 15 in the country, Harvard is 3-0, with a win over No. 14 Maine as well as the two Beanpot schools the Crimson would not be facing in the semifinals, No. 13 Boston University and No. 1 Boston College.
Against teams in Hockey East under .500, Harvard is 0-2, with losses to Merrimack and Northeastern.
The Crimson will look to improve on that 3-0 mark with a rematch against Boston College in the consolation game next week. It will be a tall order, though, as Boston College has finished fourth in Beanpot play just six times in the 52-year history of the tournament.
“One of the loneliest games in the world happens next Monday at 5:00,” said BU coach Jack Parker, about the consolation game.
With the loss Monday, Harvard hasn’t made the championship game in the Beanpot since 1998, a span of seven years.
Now Wait Just A Minute
Northeastern’s worst minute of the game against Harvard was undoubtedly the first.
A scoreboard error before the game even started gave the Huskies an undeserved 1-0 advantage to begin the first period. The mistake was noticed and corrected after the first stoppage of play, about 15 seconds after the drop of the puck, and a half a minute later Harvard scored to take the lead.
So Northeastern went from a one-goal lead to a one-goal deficit, all before the first minute of play had ended.
Apple Of My Eye
Other than their location in the greater Boston area, the four Beanpot schools sport a different and more esoteric connection. Each of the schools has at least one player from the New York Apple Core team in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. Freshman forward Jon Pelle from Harvard, freshman defenseman Mike Brennan of BC, and sophomore defender Steve Birnstill join a pair of Terrier defensemen, sophomore Kevin Schaeffer and junior Jekabs Redlihs, as alums of the EJHL program.
Welcome To The Club
First-year Harvard coach Ted Donato got his introduction to the Beanpot as a coach with a 2-1 overtime loss to Northeastern. With a win next week, Donato will attempt to join the other three coaches, as they each went 1-1 in their inaugural Beanpot seasons.
The four schools have spread the responsibility for welcoming new coaches evenly. This year, Donato lost to the Bruce Crowder-coached Northeastern Huskies. In Crowder’s first season coaching with NU, he lost in the semifinals against Jerry York-helmed Boston College.
In 1995, York’s first year behind the bench with the Eagles, the team lost in the finals to Jack Parker’s Terriers. Way back in 1973, in Parker’s first year with BU, the Terriers lost in the finals against — who else? — Harvard.
Time And Time Again
The game between Harvard and Northeastern was just the third first-round game in the 52-year history of the tournament to go into multiple overtimes.
Prior to taking the ice after the first extra session, “We passed by the BU team,” said Harvard captain Noah Welch. “Someone in the back said ‘Score a goal.’ I wasn’t sure if that meant they were cheering for us or not.”
Northeastern has been involved in all three overtime contests, although the opponent has changed each time.
In 1965, the Huskies dropped a 5-4 decision in triple overtime against Boston University, and in 1994 NU lost a 5-4 game against Boston College.
Northeastern has been in the final game of the Beanpot four times since it last won a title in 1988. Each time, the Huskies have faced off against BU, and each time they have come up short.
Cashman, Heinbuck Elected To Hall
Between the two semifinal games, two players were inducted into the Beanpot Hall of Fame: Boston University’s Scott Cashman and Jay Heinbuck of Northeastern.
Cashman played in goal for the Terriers for four years, and three times won the Eberly Award, given to the goaltender with the best save percentage in the tournament. He played from 1990 to 1993, and BU won the title in ’90, ’91 and ’92. In 1993, Cashman won the Eberly in a losing effort, as the Terriers fell to Harvard in the championship game.
During his four-year stint at Northeastern from 1982 to 1986, Heinbuck won two of NU’s four Beanpot titles, in ’84 and ’85. In 1984, he led all scorers with six points in the tournament on one goal and five assists. He is currently 11th on Northeastern’s all-time scoring list.
“Four consolation games…. that’s not what I had planned when I came to Harvard. I thought we’d win four Beanpots.” — Harvard captain Noah Welch
“It comes at the right time, because it takes me a long time to straighten out my team. I can really make a mess out of it. If the Beanpot were played in December, we’d be in trouble.” — Parker, on BU’s remarkable 21-of-22-year and 38-of-42-year streaks of advancing to the championship game.
“You open up the Beanpot guide and you see BU, BU, BU, all the way down.” — BC captain Ryan Shannon
“That’s the fourth time we’ve played this year, and the fourth time a goalie was pulled at the end of the game.” — York, on the close meetings between BC and BU
“I didn’t look up at the BU section until about four minutes left in the game. I couldn’t believe the number of BU students wearing hockey jerseys. BC fans wear t-shirts. BU fans wear jerseys.” — Parker