Harvard and Northeastern in the Beanpot championship game; Boston College and Boston University in the consolation. Now that would be something new. In the tournament’s 50-year history, it’s never happened.
Make that 51 years.
As has been the case of late, BU and BC will tangle for all the beans while relegating the Crimson and the Huskies to the game that no one wants to play. The last six times that BU and BC haven’t met in the first round, they’ve advanced to face each other all but once.
Same old, same old.
The ultimate model of consistency has been Boston University. Next Monday, the Terriers will appear in their ninth straight Beanpot championship, their 19th in the last 20 and 36th in the last 40. With the exception of 1994, you have to go back all the way to the first Reagan administration and 1983 to find the last time they slogged their way through a consolation.
“The week of the Beanpot, Coach [Jack Parker] gives out a magic potion that he’s been handing out for the last 30 years,” BU captain Freddy Meyer said. “For some reason it’s been paying off.”
Parker responded dryly, “Reverend Jim Jones. Kool-Aid.”
You had to wonder this year. BU and Harvard entered the third period tied, 1-1, and the Crimson came out of the locker room flying. With perhaps an extra jump in its stride after finally being set free by the ECAC from having to play both the Friday and Saturday leading into the Beanpot, Harvard put the first six shots on BU.
And when Harvard’s Charlie Johnson and Noah Welch broke two-on-one, the game arguably hung in the balance. Johnson forced defender Ryan Whitney to play him, setting up Welch with a wide-open net. Instead of the sophomore scoring a potential game-winner, BU netminder Sean Fields made a highlight reel stop.
A dejected Welch said, “I had the whole net and I couldn’t finish it.”
Parker’s magic potion at work?
“We get some bounces; things go our way,” he said. “I’ve always said that goaltenders are a huge part of this tournament and Sean played great tonight. They stormed us in the third period tonight and Sean held the fort.”
Many teams, though, get strong goaltending. Where is the magic potion?
“It’s easier for us to play in this because we have won it so many times,” Parker says. “We have been in the finals so many times. There’s not quite as much pressure on us. If we didn’t win the Beanpot this year, well, we’ve won it seven out of the last eight. That’s not bad. We’ll get it next time.
“But when you’re on a club and you haven’t won it in [your] three years and this is your last chance, there’s a little more pressure. That really helps us in the long run.
“It’s very, very important in these games to keep your poise when the crowd gets involved. In the third period the crowd was there tonight and started to get involved. You have to keep your poise and I think we’ve been able to do that over a long period of time.”
As a result, another trip to the dreaded consolation game looms for Harvard, making it the eighth time in the last nine years. However, unlike the first three seasons of coach Mark Mazzoleni’s tenure when the Crimson was outscored a collective 13-3, this time the Crimson put a scare into the opponent.
“I don’t know if we deserved to reach a Beanpot final [the last] three years,” he said. “This was our best team by far. That’s probably why the disappointment is greater because we felt very much coming in that we had the ability on the team to beat BU and get to the finals.
“They are very much a tournament-tested team; they play very well in this tournament. You have to really be ready to play against them.
“[But] we were ready to play. I couldn’t ask for anything more from my guys. They played their hearts out and we’re very, very proud of them.”
Looking for revenge for BC’s sweep of the regular season series with the Terriers, Meyer wanted some Beanpot “same old, same old.”
“We’re going to be up in the stands cheering really loud for the Eagles,” he said.
To which Parker responded, “That’ll be a nice quote, Freddy, if Northeastern wins.”
Not to worry. Meyer’s words would not appear on Huntington Avenue bulletin boards. Northeastern’s Beanpot drought would stretch to 15 years.
The Huskies led BC, 1-0, after the first period, but five straight Eagles goals decided the late game quite early.
“We got beat by a better team,” NU coach Bruce Crowder said. “We played hard for 60 minutes, [but] BC is an explosive team. It’s no fluke that they are leading Hockey East in goals scored.”
No magic potions worked against the Huskies, just superior talent. The Eagles have been to four Frozen Fours in the last five years, winning a national championship in 2001. This season, they’re ranked sixth in the country while Northeastern seeks to avoid the Hockey East cellar.
“We’re a program that rebuilds, not reloads,” Crowder said.
And so it’ll be a reloaded BC squad that will be playing in a “same old, same old” Beanpot final while at the same time seeking to avoid a “same old, same old” result. Seven BU titles in eight years is quite enough, thank you.
“It’s very different playing BU in the Beanpot compared to playing them in the regular season,” BC defenseman J.D. Forrest said. “You can throw our 3-0 record against them out the window. This is their tournament and they have the Beanpot.”
Which is exactly what BU fans have been gloating about for all but one of the last eight years.