For an event that happens every year and is steeped in so much tradition, it is still surprising that Boston University (18-7-2) and Harvard (15-5-2) last met in a Beanpot final on Feb. 9, 1998. The Terriers won that night 2-1 in overtime but the Crimson will be bidding for their first Beanpot title since 1993 when those two teams meet once again on Monday night (7:30, NESN) at TD Garden. Normally, you’d expect that BU would be a heavy favorite to capture their 31st Beanpot while Harvard tries to get their 11th. However, both clubs are two of the best in the country this season as the Terriers are currently ranked third in the latest USCHO.com Top-20 poll with the Crimson coming in one spot behind them at No. 4.
More than any other NHL team, you can bet that the Bruins (27-23-6) will be paying close attention to the Beanpot final and not just because it’s being played at their home building. Boston has a pair of prospects on both BU and Harvard: sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy (3 goals, 13 assists, plus-4) and sophomore forward Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (11 goals, 14 assists, plus-8) for the Terriers along with sophomore forward Ryan Donato (11 goals, 10 assists, plus-7) and junior defenseman Wiley Sherman (7 assists, plus-10) for the Crimson.
The teams have already met once this season although it was awhile ago, a few days before Thanksgiving, as BU beat Harvard 5-3 on Nov. 22 at their home-Agganis Arena. The Crimson got to their first Beanpot final since 2008 by outlasting Northeastern (11-12-5) 4-3 last Monday at the Garden. The Terriers took the nightcap with a 3-1 victory over their archrivals from BC (18-9-2). BU lost to BC 1-0 in overtime in last year’s Beanpot final but they do have some recent title history with a 4-3 overtime win vs. Northeastern in the 2015 Beanpot final.
Harvard is happy to reach this point since they are usually relegated to the 5 p.m. opener and then the consolation round game which starts at 4:30 p.m., two contests that are lightly attended to say the least. “It’ll be cool to come out for warm-ups and there will be more than seven people in the stands,” admitted Crimson senior forward Alexander Kerfoot who had a goal and assist in the win vs. the Huskies.
Conversely, when you come to Boston University, you expect to be playing for many trophies in primetime matchups all season-long. Their win over the Eagles was actually their first in a decade against them in a Beanpot. “We limited their opportunities,” said Terriers head coach Dave Quinn. “They were pinching, stretching people and taking chances. I thought we did a really good job of recognizing it.” Local college hockey fans can only hope that a game that has been so long in the making, lives up to the hype that you would expect from two of the real NCAA title contenders this spring.