By Matt Noonan
The 62nd Boston Beanpot is set to commence this afternoon with Harvard and Northeastern facing off in the late afternoon contest, which will be followed by Boston College and Boston University.
The Eagles will attempt to defend their title by skating into their fifth straight Beanpot championship. As noted on the BC athletic website, if the Eagles were to capture their fifth straight crown, they’d be one title shy of matching BU’s six straight championships from 1995-2000.
Yet, before we drop the puck, let’s meet all four teams that’ll be competing this afternoon and evening.
Boston College (19-4-3, 12-1-1) – Since falling to Holy Cross in November, the Eagles haven’t dropped a single contest. They have skated to a few ties, though, but have won various conference (Hockey East) and non-conference tilts.
On Friday, the Eagles defeated Providence College on the road, 2-0, thanks to Thatcher Demko, who earned his first-career shutout by stopping 30 shots. Johnny Gaudreau extended his point streak to 21-straight contests by netting her 23rd goal of the season. Gaudreau leads the Hockey East in point scoring with 23 goals and 28 assists. Behind Gaudreau are Kevin Hayes (19 goals, 26 assists) and Bill Arnold (eight goals, 28 assists), two players that skate on the same line.
Under head coach Jerry York, the Eagles are 26-12 in the tournament and have won seven Beanpot crowns.
Boston University (8-14-3, 3-8-2) – The underdog Terries will look to earn their first win against Boston College this season, as well as claim their first title since defeating Northeastern in 2009, 5-2.
First-year head coach David Quinn told BU Today that winning this tournament would provide his squad with a ‘big psychological lift’ heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.
As a team, the Terriers rank 10th in the Hockey East in scoring offense (2.48 goals per game), 11th in scoring defense (3.40 goals allowed per game), fifth on the power play (22-for-113), and have scored a majority of their goals in the second period (27). Ahti Oksanen leads the conference in power play points with four goals and nine assists, while first-year Nick Roberto has deposited seven shots and recorded 10 assists.
Harvard University (6-11-3, 3-9-3) – It’s been quite some time since the Crimson skated into the championship contest. In fact, their last appearance occurred in 1994 when Harvard lost to Boston College in overtime, 2-1. Harvard’s last victory came a year earlier when they defeated Boston University, 4-2.
Ted Donato’s squad snapped a four-game skid on Friday by topping Princeton, 3-2. Harvard received three first-period goals from Greg Gozzo, Alexander Kerfoot and Jimmy Vesey to secure the win.
In 20 games this season, Harvard has registered 50 goals, 32 in ECAC conference play and 81 assists. The Crimson are averaging 2.50 goals per game.
Northeastern University (15-8-3, 8-5-1): The Huskies have been college hockey’s biggest surprise of the season. Predicted to finish last in the Hockey East, Northeastern is currently tied for second place with UMass Lowell.
Kevin Roy is tied for fifth in the conference in point scoring with 14 goals and 17 assists. He didn’t record a point in his team’s last outing against Notre Dame on January 25, but did register at least one point in the seven games prior to the Huskies’ 3-0 setback. Roy was named the tournament’s most valuable player last year. He was the first Northeastern skater to earn that honor since Bruce Racine did in 1988.
A win over Harvard would punch the Huskies’ ticket to their second consecutive Beanpot title, third in four seasons. Northeastern lost both championship contests to Boston College and haven’t hoisted the trophy since defeating Boston University in 1988.