When the puck drops at the TD Banknorth Garden tonight for the championship game in the 54th Beanpot tournament, it will be a rather familiar scene.
For the 17th time in the illustrious history of the college hockey tournament between four Boston schools, the two Commonwealth Avenue rivals, Boston College and Boston University, will settle the championship on the ice.
It will be the fifth time in the past seven seasons in which the Eagles and Terriers will tussle for bragging rights and the distinction as Beantown’s best. BC won the last such meeting in 2004, claiming a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory.
The two schools’ most recent match-up in the Beanpot came a season ago in the opening round, when the Terriers got a pair of early goals from then-junior forward John Laliberte and hung on for a 2-1 victory. BU went on to win its 26th Beanpot championship a week later.
As for the current year, the teams are currently locked in a battle for the regular-season championship in the Hockey East, as the Eagles hold a four-point lead with six games left on the slate.
None of this, however, will matter during Monday’s contest. The Beanpot matches are non-conference affairs.
The Terriers could be considered the favorites heading into this contest. Since a 5-1 home loss to Providence College on Jan. 6, BU has been unbeatable, winning its last 10 contests, including a 4-3 win over BC on Jan. 28.
With the return of senior co-captain David Van der Gulik to the lineup, the Terriers’ offense is hitting its stride, though the team is not at full health.
Laliberte is listed as day-to-day with a sprained knee that has kept him out of the lineup for the past several weeks. His status for tonight’s game is uncertain.
BU can also fall back on its traditional dominance in the tournament. Although the Terriers waited until 1966 — the 15th edition of the Beanpot — to win their first title, the floodgates opened shortly after, and BU has since won 26 of the last 40 Beanpot championships.
Over the same course of time, BC has won only five.
The Eagles are not without reason to think that they can win, either. After their lengthy winning streak was ended by BU several weeks ago, the Eagles fell into a funk, requiring overtime to put away UMass-Lowell, dropping a decision out in Amherst, Mass. against the University of Massachusetts.
They have righted the ship, however, with dominant offensive efforts against Northeastern University, a 5-2 win in last week’s Beanpot opener, and most recently in an 8-3 drubbing of Providence on Friday night.
Given the Eagles’ offensive history in Beanpot play against BU — including a 52-shot effort in the 2004 championship game that yielded just two goals — BC does not lack cause for confidence heading into Monday’s contest.
BU senior netminder John Curry has played well at times and well enough at others during the Terriers’ winning streak. Fans of BC will hope to see the Curry that allowed three goals against Harvard in the first round of the Beanpot last Monday, not the one who shutout UMass on Friday.