Boston sports fans have grown accustomed to the New England Patriots going to the Super Bowl every year. It’s just supposed to happen. But after an early exit by the hometown football team, sports junkies will have to settle for another February Boston tradition: the Beanpot.
A staple of intercollegiate rivalry, the Beanpot features four Boston-area men’s hockey teams: Boston College, Harvard, Boston University, and Northeastern. Historically, Boston University has dominated, winning 29 times since the annual tournament began in 1952.
But last year’s champion, No. 1 Boston College, looks to be the heavy favorite again this year. In the midst of a dominant 2010-2011 campaign, the Eagles (19-6, 15-5 Hockey East) have already knocked off their toughest Beanpot opponent, No. 14 Boston University, three times this season, outscoring the Terriers, 17-9.
BC and BU (13-7-7, 10-5-5 Hockey East) will meet up again tonight at the TD Garden in the opening round of the tournament.
Only a few hours earlier, Harvard (4-17, 3-13 ECAC) will square off against Northeastern (8-11-6, 7-8-5 Hockey East) to kick of the 2011 men’s Beanpot. Coming in as the underdog, the Crimson faces an uphill battle. The boys from Cambridge have lost nine of their last 10, including a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Huskies on Jan. 19.
But don’t count Harvard out just yet. After a 6-2 whooping of Colgate, the Crimson nearly beat a respectable Cornell team, falling only 2-1.
And this past Friday, Harvard traveled to New Haven to face No. 3 Yale. Though the Crimson eventually lost, 1-0, Harvard kept up with the Bulldogs, tallying just one fewer shot than Yale while keeping the home team scoreless until the third period.
If the Crimson is able to play like that tonight, a Northeastern victory shouldn’t come as easily as it did earlier this year.