No Longer Just BU Vs. BC, Beanpot Truly Has Become Anybody’s Tournament

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January 29, 2020

BOSTON — For years, college hockey fans could pencil in either Boston College or Boston University as winners of the Beanpot. Sure, either school occasionally would suffer an upset during the semifinals, but more often than not, the trophy would land on Commonwealth Avenue.

Well, those days seemingly are over.

Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern all have won the Beanpot over the last five years, with the Huskies winning the previous two. And, when the four the schools assemble at TD Garden on Monday, they’ll kick off a tournament that is truly up for grabs.

“Anything can happen,” Harvard head coach Ted Donato said Monday at Beanpot Media Day. “And this year, I would say as much as ever, all four teams come in feeling like they have a chance to hoist the Beanpot.”

This isn’t normal.

Boston College and Boston University were responsible for every Beanpot title from 1994 until 2017, when Harvard broke a 23-year drought. When Northeastern won in 2018, it erased 30 years of disappointment. The Terriers have the most Beanpot championships with 30, while the Eagles’ 20 titles rank second. Harvard (11) and Northeastern (six) still are well behind Boston’s perennial college hockey powerhouses.

“A number of years ago, it was always one underdog,” BC head coach Jerry York said. ” … Last four or five years, it’s up for grabs.”

None of this is to say that this year’s tournament is without its favorites. The Eagles, ranked fifth in the country, have one of the most talented teams in the nation and are legitimate national championship contenders. The two-time defending champion Huskies, meanwhile, are ranked 13th and, despite an influx of youth, look every bit as strong as they have the last few years.

As for the “underdogs,” the 16th-ranked Crimson are very, very good, and the Terriers, though unranked, have won seven of their last 10, including victories over Harvard, Northeastern and the No. 14 UMass Lowell Riverhawks. All four teams are good, and all four are capable of winning the Beanpot.

(We made a case for each program in the latest episode of the “NESN College Hockey podcast.”)

But even if this were the Beanpot of old, nothing would come easy for anybody. The semifinals, in particular, typically are wide open.

“Every team is gonna bring it,” Harvard co-captain Nathan Krusko said. “Just looking back at the history of the results, they’re all one-goal games, especially in the first round. They’re gonna be tight.”

The 2020 Beanpot gets underway Monday when Harvard and Northeastern face-off at 5 p.m. ET. Boston College and Boston University are scheduled to start the second semifinal at 8 p.m., though that time is subject to change (there are no ties in the Beanpot). A champion will be crowned the following Monday.

Who will prevail on championship night is anyone’s guess — and thank goodness for that.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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