Two years ago, it was unprecedented. Boston University’s Class of 1998 became the first seniors in history to graduate with four Beanpot titles when the Terriers defeated Harvard in overtime, 2-1.
Last year, it was unexpected. BU would eventually record its first losing record in the ’90s, but completed the Battle of Boston sweep for its seniors anyway.
This year, however, it became downright unbelievable.
Over the previous six games, Boston College had defeated teams by a total score of 31-4. Many considered the Eagles to be the favorite, despite BU’s five straight championships. Yet a third straight senior class completed its Beanpot run undefeated.
“It’s almost eerie because that’s a real good team we beat tonight and they really wanted to win this game,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “[BC senior captain] Mike Mottau wanted to win a Beanpot and now he’s not going to. I’m sure they were ready to go. We didn’t pick on a team that wasn’t ready to go.”
Senior Chris Heron smiled with satisfaction after the game, knowing that along with the fourth title came some significant bragging rights. Not just outside of Boston University, but within as well.
“You always have those classes who come back in the summer and if you don’t win that fourth Beanpot, they always have something on you,” he said. “There are some great senior classes who won it [four years]: the Chris Drury and Chris Kelleher class and Albie [O’Connell], Danny [Ronan] and Michel [Larocque] last year. It’s great that we’re part of that tradition.”
While some might contend that success breeds success and that therefore opponents are skating uphill against BU’s Beanpot tradition, Parker sees it another way.
“I truly don’t believe that next year’s Beanpot will be decided by anything that happened this year, last year or five years ago,” he said. “I don’t think anybody is going, ‘Oh, BU is King of the Beanpot.’
“I think what goes against us is, ‘Enough of this [crap].’ People get real geared up.”
In fact, a part of Parker would like to see the bulls-eye transferred elsewhere, making the four-peat unique again instead of just standard operating procedure.
“In some ways, we’d like to win four in a row, lose a couple and then win four in a row again and be the only team to do it again,” he said.
He then hastened to add, “But I’m not looking forward to losing a first-round game next year.”
Nonetheless, there’s something to be said for having no pressure to win one because you’ve already won one. Or two. Or three.
“I think there was a lot of pressure on BC because they had to win one,” said Parker.
And there’s also something to be said for having seen senior classes before you achieve the Beanpot sweep. Much like milers everywhere broke the four-minute mile within months of Roger Bannister achieving what had once been thought impossible, the BU classes have followed in those same footsteps after Chris Drury and company broke through first in 1998.
“Some people may think it becomes easier, or maybe it becomes harder, but if you’re on a team that has done it, mentally you can see it,” said sophomore Jack Baker. “You know what it feels like to get there and you know what they felt like.
“You know it’s within your grasp. Because you’ve already won one, you’re not worried about winning one or your second. You just do the things you’ve done before.”
Of course, down the hall from the jubilant BU dressing room filled with smiling faces were Boston College seniors Mike Mottau, Jeff Farkas, Blake Bellefeuille and Kevin Caulfield, who will now never win a Beanpot.
Mottau, the embodiment of class in defeat, spoke softly, his voice dripping with disappointment.
“It’s quite frustrating,” he said. “The idea of winning one in my final year would have been nice. It’s extra disappointing when it doesn’t happen.
“When they win six in row, you have to give them a lot of credit, too. No matter how good or bad their team is, they seem to rise to the occasion come Beanpot time.
“It’s real disappointing, but it’s over now. You have to look ahead to what lies ahead and that’s the Hockey East regular season… the tournament and then the national championship. There are other goals we can accomplish.”