It's simple advice that extends to hockey locker rooms across the country. Yet, it's perhaps no more applicable anywhere than it is in Boston.
As the city's major sports teams continue to enjoy a reign of success (a reign that began with "Varitek splitting the uprights" in 2002 — sorry, Mr. Menino), it's easy to see how the Beanpot tournament could get lost in the shuffle, especially because it's an event featuring just four schools from the Boston area. However, the tourney has withstood the test of time, embarking on its 60th go-round in 2012.
And just as the tournament itself has maintained its luster, the participating programs have done so, with a recent upward trend becoming increasingly clear. To see why the "act like you've been here before" mantra is so perfectly intertwined with the annual Beanpot tournament, look no further than the recent results.
Despite just a four-team field and the seemingly low importance of a midseason tournament in the grand scheme of things, the intensity of the Beanpot is unmatched. It's unsurprising to see one or more of the teams — most notably Boston College or Boston University — play for far greater accolades later on in the hockey season, even if the players and coaches stress that there's great pride that comes with bringing home a Beanpot championship.
The Beanpot experience has become far more important than just earning bragging rights for the winning squad's respective university. BC head coach Jerry York understands this as well as anyone.
"I think that the experience of winning on a big stage or at an important event, that's part of your fabric, part of your makeup, part of your DNA," York said. "And if you're going to experience that, I think it carries you over to the Lamoriello Cup and hopefully the national stage as well."
In terms of recent history, York, whose three national championships at BC have all come in years in which the Eagles have won the Beanpot, is spot on. Just as BC and BU have become the Beanpot powerhouses, the schools have been mainstays in the championship game of the Hockey East tournament, which typically comes less than five weeks after the Beanpot final.
BC is seeking its third straight Beanpot title this season, just as the school's seeking its third consecutive Hockey East title. Heading into this year's Beanpot, the tournament's winner has gone on to win the Hockey East championship in four straight years — Boston College has three titles (2008, 2010, 2011) and Boston University has one (2009).
Either BC or BU has won every Beanpot title since 1994. In that time, which spans 18 seasons, either school has gone on to win the Hockey East tournament 13 times. In other words, there exists a distinct correlation between Beanpot success and Hockey East tournament success.
That correlation extends beyond the Hockey East tournament, though, as before last season, either Boston College or Boston University played in five straight national championship games. BC won national titles in 2008 and 2010, the same seasons in which the school enjoyed Beanpot glory. BU won the big title in 2009, a victory that also came on the heels of a Beanpot title.
BU won a national championship in 1995 following a Beanpot victory, while BC captured national glory in 2001 after Beanpot success just weeks earlier. And even when either team has failed to emerge from its season as a national champion, there still seems to be an obvious link between winning the Beanpot and enjoying a certain degree of further success down the road.
Is this all a coincidence, or even just the result of the talent that Boston College and Boston University consistently rolls out onto the ice? Perhaps.
But more likely, it's that the Beanpot provides a taste of what pressure-packed hockey is all about, making the Boston-area schools better equipped to handle the rigors of tournament hockey when the stakes are raised even higher.
So even if you find yourself lacking a rooting interest in the annual four-team tournament, it'd be wise to pay attention. Pride might be the biggest thing at stake in February, but the preparation is arguably the biggest takeaway.
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