Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan hoists the Beanpot as a player in 1985
For hockey fans in and around Boston, particularly collegiate hockey fans, the first two Mondays of every February bring the best of the region's NCAA competition in the form of the Beanpot tournament. To hockey fans outside of New England, the word "Beanpot" has little to no meaning and probably brings to mind more visions of a home cooked stew over a hockey tournament, but for the past 64 years, four of Boston's best college hockey programs have faced off for local bragging rights and a chance to have their school's name hung in the rafters of TD Garden.
For the first time in tournament history, the championship game ended in a 1-0 score, with Boston College taking the title in OT on a no-look sniper shot by Minnesota draft pick Alex Tuch. Reminiscent of the Bruins–Lightning game 7 in 2011, one goal was all BC needed to capture their 20th all-time Beanpot title.
As a Northeastern alum and avid Husky hockey fan, the Beanpot hasn't been too kind to me in recent years. Despite advancing to the championship game five of the last eight years, every February, my fellow Husky fans and I leave TD Garden with broken hearts, coming so close, yet still being so far. My alma mater has only captured four titles in the tournament's 60+ year history, the most recent coming back in 1988 when Bruins legend Fernie Flaman coached the club. The current drought is by far the longest of any of the four schools, with next longest Harvard's last title coming 23 years ago in 1993. Putting things in perspective, the current freshman class wasn't even born until 10 years after the last Husky victory. Yeah.
Regardless of what team you root for though, or if you even root for any of the schools at all, the Beanpot is a really special tournament for players and fans alike. The four teams collectively boast a massive number of NHL draft picks, making the Beanpot a perfect scouting ground to scope out stars of the future. The 2016 tournament alone featured six highly touted Bruins prospects, plus Ducks pick Kevin Roy and BC's game-winning hero, Alex Tuch.
Beanpot history is more or less a who's who of hockey's most notable stars, with MVP honors having gone in recent years to young NHL talent like Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau and Pittsburgh's Nick Bonino. Other tournament alumni currently in the NHL include Sabres' rookie Jack Eichel, Devils' netminder Cory Schneider and Anaheim d-man Josh Manson, just to name a few, but aside from the obvious star power, the tournament's history is what makes it a truly special event. What the trophy itself lacks in size, it more than makes up for in tradition. Even 1980 Olympic heroes Jack O'Callahan and Jim Craig have hoisted the 'pot, and it doesn't really get more iconic than that.
Brian Durocher and Jack O'Callahan carry their Beanpot trophy with Boston University in 1978
So this year, after attending my 8th consecutive Beanpot and watching dreaded rival Boston College claim yet another title while my alma mater finished third, I walked down the steps of TD Garden knowing that I'd have to wait at least another 11 months to see Northeastern hoist the 'pot. It's been almost three decades, so really, what's another year? But until that sweet moment finally comes, you can bet I'll keep my attendance streak going and never give up hope on my team.
As always, #GoNU