MEN'S Hockey: Defrosting For The Beanpot
After Suffering Through January Slumps, Boston Programs Ready For 61st Beanpot
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 4, 2013 13:02
Striding up the left side, three Terriers between him and the net, Steven Whitney sees that his path to the goal is closed and sends a perfect pass across the ice to be taken by Bill Arnold a few yards inside the blue line. A short glide. His right foot kicks back. From 40 feet out, he shoots. Glove side, top shelf. Just over the waiting hand of Boston University goalie Kieran Millan.
For the third straight time—the fourth in five years—Boston College is victorious in the Beanpot, the annual tournament that pits four major college hockey programs against each other to crown the best in Boston.
This year, for the 61st time, Harvard, Northeastern, BU, and BC will meet in this unconventional two round tournament, starting tonight with semifinals with the final and 3rd place game to be played next Monday.
Few will soon forget the overtime thriller that left the Eagles victorious over their biggest crosstown rival last year. No doubt many will hope for a similar situation this year. But with the seemingly annual January slump at the forefront of many minds, rankings, records, and tradition aside, BC hockey fans may find themselves asking, “Can we hope for such an outcome this year?”
One area in which most fans have very little doubt is in head coach Jerry York, who played in the Beanpot during his time at BC, winning the 1965 tournament over Harvard then BU, a possible combination for the Eagles this year, and coaching BC to six more wins. Because of his lifetime Beanpot prowess, York was the sole inductee to the Beanpot Hall of Fame this year, adding yet another achievement to his already memorable year.
Yet York isn’t going to let any award shift his focus. “Maybe sometime later we’ll look back at all of that, but right now, individual accomplishments aren’t what we focus on. It’s not about one person or player, it’s about the team,” he said.
No. 5 BC comes into the tournament as the top ranked team with No. 11 BU the only other top 20 team. January woes have brought the Eagles four losses, more than the three that they had in the three months of play leading up to the new year. The Eagles hope to get back on track, especially with York back on the bench after missing a crucial series against New Hampshire early in the month that was the beginning of the slump.
January, however, is over.
On Friday, the first night of the merciful beginning of a new month, the Eagles returned to the ice with renewed vigor and overcame the University of Vermont with a confident 4-1 win.
The Eagles enter the Beanpot with strong records against their Boston foes. They have faced both Boston University and Northeastern three times so far this season, and their record against both teams is 2-1. After a disappointing home-opener loss to the Huskies on Oct.13, BC has rebounded with dominating 3-0 and 9-3 wins. When it comes to BU, the two teams traded 4-2 wins in their first two meetings, but BC took the upper hand in the most recent meeting between the two with a 5-2 win on Dec. 1.
BC and Harvard have yet to meet this year, but the Crimson has not fared well against Hockey East teams such as Merrimack, UMass Lowell, and Northeastern, sustaining a loss to each of them. In converse, the Eagles have a 5-1 record against those teams. Yet, York, a seasoned Beanpot veteran, knows not to take the Harvard game for granted.
“We haven’t played Harvard yet because of some gimmicks in the schedule, so that’s shaping up to be a really good rivalry game,” he said. “I’ve been to see them play and watched video, and they’re a much better team than their record shows. They have a lot of talented players, but injury has held them back a lot.”
Between tonight’s semifinal and the second Beanpot matchup next Monday, BC will host UMass Lowell for a regular season game having nothing to do with the tournament. Though some may consider such an intermission to be distracting, York takes it in stride.
“Right now we focus on the next game. That’s Harvard,” he said. “This week it will be Lowell, and then after that we can think about the next one.”
BU enters the tournament as the only other nationally ranked team with a record of 13-9-1. January was not a strong month for the Terriers either, as their four losses mirrored BC’s. It included a close loss to UMass Lowell toward the end of the month and, more recently, a defeat at the hands of the University of Massachusetts in a disappointing 5-1 performance for their last game before the start of Beanpot play on Feb. 1.
Along with those slips, after failing to maintain slim leads throughout the game, the Terriers suffered an overtime upset to Beanpot foe Harvard. Before the upset, Harvard had been winless for six games. BU, on the other hand, had been on the upsurge.
Overall, the Terriers are still looking strong. Although January held some tough losses, they also overcame Merrimack and Providence, two Hockey East teams that had given Northeastern trouble earlier in the season. Also, one cannot forget about landmark wins against then No. 5 North Dakota and No. 1 New Hampshire earlier in the season.