For Boston University fans, there’s no team to hate like Boston College. Outside of Matthews Arena before the Terriers took on Northeastern, enterprising BU fans were selling T-shirts that proclaimed “BC Sucks.” Newcomers to the scene might have wondered what BC has to do with a Boston University-Northeastern contest, but, in fact, BC has everything to do with BU fandom. It’s an instinctive impulse that radiates from some deep primordial level.
Increasingly, though, Northeastern has also slipped onto BU fan’s radar screens, especially following last year’s Beanpot championship game. The Huskies had BU on the ropes, leading 3-2 going into the third period, before the Terriers came back to win what they like to refer to as “The BU Invitational.”
The close call made an impression. For some, it warranted a first pilgrimage to the foreign soil of Matthews Arena.
“It’s a pretty important game because they’re a Beanpot rival,” said Tony Maiolino, sitting at center ice with his friend Steve Moore, both clad in scarlet-and-white jerseys. “We beat them last year in the Beanpot and it’s the first rematch right after that and we want to prove to them that we can still take them.”
Moore concurs. “Northeastern has gotten much better the last couple years so now — especially after last year’s Beanpot game and the way we won it in the end — you know they want to beat us. It’s become a really big game.
“In the past it was almost like a gimme against Northeastern. But now they’re in the same class as BC, BU and UNH. So hockeywise it’s a big rivalry, but I don’t know that hatewise it’s as much as BC.”
Hatewise. A perfectly apt description of BC-BU.
“The difference is that we hate BC,” Moore continued. “Not just hockey. We just don’t like BC. We don’t really have it out for Northeastern like we do against BC. We just don’t like BC.
“But Northeastern … we’re starting to not like them a lot more.”
— Northeastern fan Rich Therrien
Starting to not like them a lot more.
What beautiful phrases for those who appreciate a good rivalry.
“BC and BU, that’s more like the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry,” said Maiolino. “It’s always going to be that way. But this is definitely starting to grow. It’s going to sneak up on people.”
The sneaking is over for Northeastern fans. From their perspective, BU is already Public Enemy Number One.
This week, fliers urged NU fans to don the school colors and “black out BU.” They did so in numbers, ranging from the diehard to Amy Leedham, who was attending her first game but had nonetheless painted “NU” on her face.
Of course, the raucous student section known as the Doghouse carried the day in its support, looking like a sea of black that extended even to the faces of several members painted that color. Two females students had their midriffs painted “NU.” Several males lifted their black shirts in unison to display their message, one letter per chest, “BU SUXX.”
“You see black just everywhere,” said Rich Therrien, who along with his friend Steve Souza had painted his face black. “You look through the audience and there’s black everywhere with little specks of red.”
The Huskies’ 22-53-2 record against BU since the formation of Hockey East may have diminished the rivalry in some Terrier fans’ eyes, but has led to the Doghouse placing a virtual bullseye on Terrier jerseys.
“They’ve been known as being a little better than us, so we’ve got to go out there and show them who’s boss and who’s going to win this thing,” said Therrien.
When asked if a gun was put to their head and they had to pick one team that they would most savor a win over, the two answered in near unison.
“BU, probably,” said Souza.
“BU, definitely,” said Therrien.
As it turned out, BU scored a mere 17 seconds into the game, quieting what had been a raucous building for a few seconds.
Then the cheers of “Let’s Go Huskies!” resumed.
“We knew we were going to come back,” said Souza. “It gave us a little more [reason] to cheer a little harder.”
Souza’s optimism seemed appropriate as he uttered the words during the first intermission since Northeastern led, 3-1. Boston University roared back, however, scoring five unanswered goals in the second period.
In seats behind the Husky bench, long-time NU fan Tim Costello had to listen to Coleman McCarron — a youngster who described himself as the “number one BU fan” — gloat about the Terriers success and predict a 15-3 outcome.
As it turned out, Northeastern rallied in the third period and if not for an inability to capitalize on a full two-minute five-on-three could have avoided falling short, 7-6.
Boston University held on to take the win, though, and drive the head-to-head records even higher in its favor: 54-22-2 since the formation of Hockey East and 125-46-2 all-time.
For now, then, the focus of both teams shifts to other opponents until a home-and-home series during the first weekend in January. Followed, perhaps, by another meeting in the Beanpot championship game.