There may be no better time of year for college hockey fans in Boston than late January into early February. The air is freezing, the nights are long, and the four Boston-area teams are gearing up for the most exiting tourmanet of the year. I’m talking about none other than the Beanpot.
Since 1979 this tournament has featured Northeastern, Boston University, Boston College, and Harvard (we can ignore that one year Brown was involved, 1993 was weird). NU is the all-time leader in Beanpot victories with 16 titles to their name, followed by Harvard with 14 championships, BC, the most recent winner, with six, and BU with one victory, way back in 1981.
Teams rotate hosting the Beanpot, with this year’s games being played at Matthews Arena, home of the Northeastern Huskies. The last time NU hosted the Beanpot in 2013 they came away victorious, defeating Boston College 4-3.
This year’s first-round matchups are between Boston University and Boston College in the 5p.m. matinee and Northeastern and Harvard in the 8p.m. nightcap. BC and BU are first and third, respectively, in Hockey East with 12 points separating the two teams. Northeastern sits second in Hockey East, while Harvard has moved up to ninth in ECAC. Here’s what to expect in each of these games.
Boston College vs Boston University
The Eagles and Terriers have met three times this season, splitting the series with a win, a loss, and a draw each. Boston College was dominant last season against every team they faced and won their Beanpot semi-final over Harvard 8-0, then steamrolling Northeastern for a 7-0 victory to secure their third championship in six years. Katie Crowley and her flock of Eagles have been dominant this year, but just shy of the juggernaut they put out on the ice in 2015-16.
BC is coming off of a 4-1 win over Merrimack thanks to a pair of short-handed goals from Kristyn Capizzano and Andie Anastos. The Eagles have been unbeated in their last 14 games (12-0-2), and have not allowed a power play goal in their previous 24 penalty kill situations. Katie Crowley has moved into a tie for second most Hockey East wins, as this was her 151st career victory.
On the other side of the ice, you have a BU team that was just thwarted by Merrimack in a 4-1 loss. The lone Terrier goal in that game came on a power play from Victoria Bach, who currently owns a three-game point streak. BU has only won two of their last eight games (2-2-4) and have been wildly inconsistent since their six-game win streak between November and December.
It is very difficult to consider anyone beating Boston College on paper. They have one of the best goaltenders in the nation in Katie Burt, a defensive core highlighted by US National Team regular Megan Keller, and some of the best forwards in the conference including second-round draft pick Andie Anastos. Look for a close game, but consider the Eagles as the current favorite to win.
Northeastern vs Harvard
The last time the Huskies and Crimson met in November 2015, Harvard blanked NU in a 3-0 victory. That was a much different time for Harvard, who went 17-12-3 in 2015-16. They have already surpassed last season’s loss total in significantly fewer games, and have glaring holes all over their game. Meanwhile, Northeastern seems to be hitting their stride, winning four of their last six, scoring 11 goals in their last two contests.
The Crimson are 2-2-1 in their last five, a marked improvement from 15-game winless streak that immediately preceeded this streak. They tied 2-2 with Cornell over the weekend in Cambridge, and Sydney Daniels tied a career-high with two assists. Molly Tisenbaum made 28 saves and has increased her save percentage to .921.
Northeastern went to Durham to face the Univeristy of New Hampshire Wildcats on Saturday and thumped them in a 6-0 rout. The game was full of notable milestones for NU, including Kasidy Anderson’s first career four-point game, Denisa Krizova scoring her 50th career goal, and Brittany Bugalski pitching her eigth career shutout, ninth most in program history. After a series of rough losses to Maine, the Huskies have responded and put themselves back into serious consideration for a conference title.
This will likely be the more lopsided of the two games on Tuesday, but it’s worth noting that Harvard did put some pressure on Boston College at Frozen Fenway. Do not count the Crimson out, but from top to bottom the Huskies are the better team.
Barbito’s Brutal Truth
It’s a fun time to be in Boston if you ignore the heavy winds and dry air. Thankfully the cozy confines of Matthews Arena will provide some fun matchups between teams that can let their emotions fuel competitive play. However, two teams will have to hang their heads as they skate to the consolation game, and based on the first round matchups, we may see a repeat of the 2016 Beanpot.
Northeastern, Boston College, these are your games to lose.