BOSTON — Boston University’s Beanpot stranglehold just may be slipping.
Going into this year, the Terriers had won exactly half of the 58 Beanpots and 15-of-20 through 2009. Three straight senior classes — those in 1998, 1999, and 2000 — could lay claim to not losing a single Beanpot game. Numerous recent BU classes, included the class of 2009, won three Beanpots in their four years.
Terriers fans could call the tournament the BU Invitational and though that rankled their opponents, what could be said in reply? The results were there.
But the days of the BU Invitational may be over.
The Boston College Eagles won a game for the ages, 7-6 in overtime over Northeastern on Monday, to take their third Beanpot in the last four years. They came out in the extra session and with the calm confidence of a team that expects to win these games, seized a major territorial advantage in overtime and converted that into a title.
“The team that possessed the puck the most won,” Northeastern coach Greg Cronin said. “BC got control of the puck and established a forecheck and a cycle game early in overtime to get us on our heels. They finished us off with what they do better than anybody in the country and that’s play a tremendous transition game.”
Meanwhile, BU lost to Harvard in the consolation game to finish fourth for the first time since 1980.
Fourth place? BU?
It was like the old sheriff had been caught in a compromising position in a sleazy saloon, whiskey bottles in both hands, the bad guys stuffing wads of dollar bills in his pockets, and his arms around two women who weren’t his wife.
By comparison, in winning three out of four Beanpots, BC’s tiny senior class — John Muse, Joe Whitney and Brian Gibbons — accomplished something that hadn’t been done at the Heights since 1966.
“You can’t ask for much more than that,” Gibbons said. “I’m speechless, really. I’ve been coming to Beanpots since I was a little guy so the Beanpot is special. To be able to share three of them with Joey and John is really special.”
Is success breeding more success for BC now the way that it once seemed to for BU, quiet confidence being passed from seniors to underclassmen? Put another way, is the weight of history switching sides to BC?
“I don’t know if our class is smart enough to figure out the history,” Gibbons said with a grin. “We’re just hockey players who want to play hockey. We get up for big games. That’s when we play our best so that’s why we’ve had success in the big games.”
If anything, Whitney provided an even more simple, straightforward answer.
“We’ve had a lot of good players over the last four years,” he said. “Good players win games.”
None of which is to suggest that the Eagles have in recent Beanpots steamrollered over their competition. They needed overtime in both games this year just like they did in 2008 when they kicked off this streak. But one-goal games and overtimes have almost been the norm in modern Beanpot history — for BU as well as BC.
“There’s been really good competitive balance through the years,” BC coach Jerry York said. “BU certainly won a lot of Beanpots but they’ve always been tight games. If you’re looking for competitiveness and tight games, Monday nights in February seem to bring that to us.”
So might there be a new sheriff in town?
“I hope so,” Gibbons said. “I know that I’m leaving here with three Beanpots in four years and no one can take that away. I’m sure that next year the boys will be ready.”