We all have our sports demons. Mine have largely been vanquished over the years, the result of parity and, well, just growing older.
The Red Sox, of course, exorcised the biggest demon, the one we all never really thought would go. Before that, I enjoyed seeing my Denver Broncos, led by my all-time favorite athlete John Elway, win not one but two Super Bowls while I was living on St. Stephen Street during my time at Northeastern.
But one demon still lurks, in all its absurdity, in all its unbelievability. That’s Northeastern hockey, which has failed to win a Beanpot — just a four-team tournament — since 1988.
This year, though, I truly think this last demon leaves all of us — Northeastern alumni young and old, all the current students. After the first Huskies win over BU in a Beanpot since 1988 last week, we’re already halfway home to the rightful conclusion to the best underdog story going.
I covered Northeastern hockey from 1997 to 2001 while a student reporter for what was then called The Northeastern News. It was my introduction to the Beanpot and it became increasingly befuddling as the years went by. How can one team manage to lose chance after chance, Beanpot game after Beanpot game?
In 1999, the Huskies went into the third period down 3-2 to Boston University. Then NU turned it on and outshot the Terriers 14-2 in the final frame. The result? BU scored on one of its two shots and won its fourth straight Beanpot title.
In 2002, Northeastern led 3-2 going into the third period. I was a year out of school but attended as a sportswriter. I walked past USCHO’s Dave Hendrickson and said, “Twenty minutes away,” confident the drought’s end was near. BU won 5-3.
In 2005, the Huskies scored a late goal in regulation and sent the game into overtime. I was home sick with a cold but was talking to a friend on the phone and watching on TV, jubilant that the first Beanpot title in 17 years was close at hand. Then Ray Bourque’s kid snuffed out NU’s dreams again.
In 2009, Northeastern had the season of a lifetime. The Huskies were ranked No. 3 in the country and would go on to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years. But BU, ranked No. 1 in the nation, was always one step ahead, scoring two short-handed goals on the same NU power play and ending the dream yet again.
In 2011, Northeastern tied Boston College at 6 with just minutes to go in regulation, only to suffer another overtime loss.
Still, like a spurned lover, we all still believe. But there’s more than just belief this season. There’s a bit of certainty, a bit of a good feeling in the air.
Northeastern will win the Beanpot Monday night for the first time in 25 years. It’s time. It just is.