Monday has all the makings of a memorable night at TD Garden. The championship game of the 62nd annual Beanpot (7:30 p.m., NESN) pits Boston College (21-4-3 overall, 13-1-1 Hockey East) vs. Northeastern (16-9-3 overall, 8-6-1 Hockey East).
With the new polls released Monday afternoon, one can bet that the Eagles will be No. 1 since they have been No. 2 for weeks and top-ranked Minnesota lost to Wisconsin on Thursday and Friday. The Huskies were No. 11 but they fell, 3-0, to UMass on Friday, so they should fall a place or two.
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BC is unbelievably hot as they’ve won their last seven games, having rolled, 6-1, over Merrimack on Friday, and they are unbeaten in their last 14 games (13-0-1). Junior forward Johnny Gaudreau is already polishing up his speech for the Hobey Baker Award in April (college hockey’s version of the Heisman) as he’s riding an incredible 23-game point streak, including three assists vs. Merrimack. In terms of active college players, he has the second most career points (68 goals, 85 assists), in less than three full seasons at the Heights.
Granted, the losses occurred more than three months ago, but Northeastern is 0-2 so far this season vs. Boston College. The Eagles won, 4-2, Nov. 1 at Kelley Rink then 4-3 in overtime the next night at Matthews Arena. BU vs. BC is the gold standard in terms of local college hockey rivalries, but Northeastern vs. BC is getting more intense since this will be the third time in the last four years that the two teams have met in the Beanpot championship game.
It doesn’t count as a Hockey East game but with only three weekends left in the regular season, Monday’s contest means plenty in terms of their respective resumes when the NCAA Tournament is discussed next month. The Eagles are a lock to make it but their fifth Beanpot title in a row would certainly bolster their chances to get a top seed and a spot in the closest regional (Worcester’s DCU Center).
Northeastern hasn’t won a Beanpot since 1988 but they are also seeking their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons. Right now the Pairwise rankings (college hockey’s version of bracketology on USCHO.com) has them tied with Providence for No. 11, so they are in good shape with 16 teams making it. Of course, a win vs. No. 1 BC at a neutral site would be their best victory of the season.
Follow Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate