For a city (Boston) and region (New England) that generally couldn't care less about college sports, there is one notable exception: it is always an event when Boston College meets Boston University in a men’s hockey game. Whether it is in the regular season, the Hockey East playoffs or the NCAA Tournament, you know that you are in for a treat when the Eagles play the Terriers.
Given the quality of their respective programs and impressive history, you could very well argue that it’s the best rivalry in college hockey these days. With apologies to both Harvard (which hasn’t won since 1993) and Northeastern (which hasn’t won since 1988!), the second Monday in February has become a new local tradition: seeing either BC (19 titles) or BU (30 titles) raise yet another Beanpot trophy.
Weather-permitting, the 64th annual Beanpot will be decided on Monday night (7:30 p.m., NESN) as BC (19-4-4 overall, 11-1-4 in Hockey East) takes on BU (16-7-4 overall, 9-4-3 in Hockey East) at TD Garden. The new editions will be released on Monday afternoon but as of last week the Eagles were No. 4 in the country and the Terriers were No. 9 in the USHCO.com poll. Both clubs went 2-0 since then so expect them to move up a spot or two. The Commonwealth Avenue rivals have already met twice this season with BC taking a 5-3 decision at Conte Forum on January 15 while they skated to a 1-1 tie the next night at Agganis Arena. Eagles head coach Jerry York recently picked up his 1000th career collegiate victory behind the bench while Terriers head coach Dave Quinn is in only his third year in charge of his alma mater but he took them to the national championship game last season (where they lost to Providence 4-3 at the Garden).
BC got here by rallying to beat No. 7 Harvard 3-2 last Monday and BU took care of Northeastern 3-1 in a nightcap that was never really in doubt. It’s an interesting juxtaposition since BU has been known as Beanpot University while BC has been a force in the NCAA Tournament over the last decade (with national titles in 2008, 2010 and 2012) in particular. Still, BU’s 4-3 overtime victory against Northeastern in the 2015 Beanpot championship (thanks to Bruins prospect and senior defenseman Matt Grzelcyk) broke BC’s five-year stranglehold on the tournament. York has eight Beanpot crowns on his resume while Quinn is looking for the first of what will likely be many.
BC is led by junior goaltender Thatcher Demko (18-4-3, 1.71 goals against average, .937 save percentage and 8 shutouts) and freshman center Colin White of Hanover, MA (16 goals, 19 assists), two of the best players in the nation. BU is paced by Needham MA native and senior forward Danny O’Regan (10 goals, 22 assists) while Grzelcyk (a Charlestown MA native) has returned from an injury to post 15 points (8 goals, 7 assists) in the captain’s 15 games this campaign.