For Northeastern, more than a quarter-century of close calls but no Beanpot titles

BOSTON — Championship droughts can be confounding, regardless of the degree of difficulty. But in such a short tournament as the Beanpot with the same participants year after year, Northeastern’s drought is maddening.

Two wins. It’s very simple — every year, the Huskies need only two wins. And yet the Huskies seem star-crossed at every turn.

Beanpot 2014

Semifinals: Feb. 3

No. 11 Northeastern 6, Harvard 0 | Does Northeastern finally have the stuff of Beanpot champions?

No. 2 Boston College 3, Boston University 1 | Boston College embraces Beanpot pressure; Boston University lives a nightmare

Feb. 10

Third place: Harvard 6, Boston University 2

Championship: Boston College 4, Northeastern 1 | Once again, Boston College finds another gear to extend Beanpot stranglehold | For Northeastern, more than a quarter-century of close calls but no Beanpot titles

Patrick Brown’s game-winning goal in Boston College’s 4-1 victory on Monday was a perfect example: an extraordinary effort and a perfect redirection. Yet another bounce that didn’t go Northeastern’s way, and another year without a Beanpot title for the Huskies.

“We gave everything we could,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said, exasperated after yet another emotionally draining Beanpot final.

It remains a pure statistical oddity that the Huskies can’t get a few lucky bounces in back-to-back Beanpot games. Sure, they’ve always faced Boston University or Boston College at some point in this tournament, and one (if not both) would inevitably be among the top five teams in the country.

But, you might say, upsets happen all the time in college hockey, even on big stages.

Not for Northeastern. Not in this tournament.

Breaking through to end a streak is never easy. Flash back to 2001 and Boston College was faced with ending a (smaller) drought of its own. Look at what has happened since.

“I was just thinking how hard it was to get the first one and how much that’s helped us win some more,” Boston College coach Jerry York said. “Winning begets winning.”

It brings to mind a moment three years ago, when then-Northeastern coach Greg Cronin made a startling admission in a Beanpot semifinal news conference. He was a Yankees fan. The Yankees won a lot, he said, and the Red Sox didn’t.

Northeastern has suffered from a bit of Red Sox syndrome, consistently vexed by its closest rivals on the biggest stages.

But in recent years, even as the Sox and the rest of Boston’s marquee teams have ended their long-established championship droughts, one stubborn streak remains intact, stretching over a quarter century: Northeastern, 1988.

“[Northeastern fans] have got a little bit of the mentality of, ‘When are they going to win this damn thing?'” Cronin said after the 2011 semifinal. “They get sick of it, and I don’t blame them.”

And so it goes for another year.