BOSTON — For No. 5 Boston College, a deep NCAA tournament run is by no means out of the question.
Nor is it for 13th-ranked Northeastern.
Or Harvard, the 16th team in the country.
Even Boston University, which is unranked but received five votes in the latest USCHO poll, has a shot at an at-large bit.
In other words, the four Beanpot teams could very well be playing in some big games later this year, and the atmosphere they’re set to experience beginning Monday will be a nice tune-up for them.
“The Beanpot comes at the right time, because it starts the stretch drive for our Hockey East playoffs,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan told NESN.com on Monday at Hockey East Media Day. “The Beanpot you’ve got to win two games, it’s sudden death, it’s win and you advance, which is what the playoffs are about. So it puts the urgency and the magnitude on each game, you’ve got to win the first night of the Beanpot to get to the championship game, and so the focus, the preparation gets elevated. The determination, all of that, your play, gets all elevated.
“So the Beanpot helps you down the stretch and it’s almost like it’s two playoff games and just as we’re going to get ready, and we’re going to play playoff-type games in our league, in Hockey East, now. Not come March, there are playoff games now because every game has importance, significance, and the runway gets tighter, right? It gets shorter. So you have to understand the importance of every game and the Beanpot helps you bring that up and elevate that mindset.”
Between the increased media attention, venue and style of tournament, the Beanpot gives the four local teams an opportunity to get a feel for that playoff atmosphere.
But for longtime Boston College head coach Jerry York, there’s little need to liken the Beanpot to what they might face down the road.
“The Beanpot sells itself. We’re not looking at national runs. The Beanpot is the Beanpot,” York said.
The 2020 Beanpot kicks off Monday, with Harvard and Northeastern playing at 5 p.m. ET, followed by Boston College and Boston University.