**Below are just a sample of what the Beanpot means to us as former Northeastern students, present Northeastern fans, and forever Northeastern supporters. The Beanpot is billed as the biggest games of the year on campus, and while the ultimate goal has eluded us, the passion for the tournament has never subsided on Huntington Avenue**
Downie: In the spring of 2013, I was a freshman at Northeastern. I had been to a number of hockey games, but I was in no way, shape, or form the diehard I would become in the years to follow. So, when tickets went on sale to pay $40 for the privilege see the 7-win Huskies play at TD Garden, I passed. But I did watch the game on TV with my roommate. I watched NU take the ice, already left for dead despite having beaten the BU Terriers at Agganis Arena on January 18th. I watched Kevin Roy score a natural hat trick, beating Matt O’Connor five hole, scoring on an empty net as O’Connor scrambled back to it, and finally sniping a puck over his shoulder. I watched Kevin Roy and the rest of his Huskies (even in his freshman year, they were already HIS Huskies) beat BU. I had no idea that the game I just watched was the first NU victory over BU in the history of TD Garden or the first over BU in the Beanpot since 1988. I had four more years left at NU, and had no idea that that was the last time as a student that I would see my Huskies beat BU at the Garden, even though they would raise a Hockey East Championship in that building just three short years later.
Northeastern would go on to lose the next Monday, as they had in every one of the 24 years before and as they have every year since. There are names of NU legend, players like Jason Guerreiro, Jim Fahey, Kevin Roy, Josh Manson, Brad Thiessen, and Joe Vitale, who have never won a Beanpot. This year, there are a number of players who are among the best this school has ever seen who are taking the ice on the first Monday in February for the final time. Zach Aston-Reese and John Stevens definitely are. Nolan Stevens, Dylan Sikura, and Adam Gaudette all might be. They all already broke one long winless streak for the Huskies, and they’re all good enough that they can break one more. For the 29th time in a row, this year is our year.
Fallon: The first Beanpot memory I have is actually from my senior year of high school. I had already been accepted to both Northeastern and Boston College and, as fate would have it, the two schools were facing off in the Beanpot final that season (2011). While sitting down to watch some of the game, I immediately gravitated towards NU because of its well-publicized drought. I was also sick of watching BC win every damn game I watched, too. I was still undecided on my college choice at that point, so I didn’t watch the entire game, but even now I still wish I had. It was a back-and-forth, goaltending-optional, 7-6 slugfest that NU tied late and eventually lost in overtime on a score from Chris Krieder. My friends (and fellow WRBB alumni) Alex Faust and Ben Horner have told me over and over how that night was the greatest hockey game they’ve ever seen, despite the result.
The next 5 years I was able to experience the highs and lows of my own Beanpots. There was the humiliating beatdown by BC in 2012. There was also the giddiness of booting Jack Parker from the Beanpot forever in 2013, despite the inevitable loss to Johnny Gaudreau’s Eagles in the final. There was the disappointing and forgettable seminfinal loss to BU last year. There was also the sheer insanity of breaking Boston College’s 5 Beanpot win streak in the 2015 semifinals on the back of Big Game Dustin Darou – in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, thanks to some snow and a double-overtime early game.
More than anything else, though, there was heartbreak. I had the good fortune to call two Beanpot finals during my time at WRBB. They were two of the best games I have ever watched – and two of the most gut-wrenching. In 2014, NU fought tooth and nail against a dominant Eagles team boasting the Hobey Baker winner in Johnny Gaudreau. Things unraveled, though, when John Stevens threw down Eagles captain Patrick Brown in the crease. Brown responded by reaching out at the puck whizzing by and somehow directed it into the back of the net. I was legitimately speechless on live radio.
SERIOUSLY HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? I still have flashbacks about this play.
In 2015, the Huskies again took on a juggernaut – the Jack Eichel Terriers. Another Hobey Baker winner led BU to a 3-1 lead, only to see NU rally for 2 goals in the third (courtesy of Kevin Roy, again, and Dustin Darou, again). Overtime was… not kind. The game ended just 51 seconds in to the extra frame, thanks to a power-play score from Matt Grzelcyk that every Husky fan saw coming as soon as Grzelcyk was left open. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the energy of a crowd (and our broadcast) disappear faster.
Despite the losses, I love the Beanpot. I love the Beanpot because, year-in, year-out, the Northeastern community comes out in droves to support its team. Whether the team has 7 wins or 17, students, alumni, and staff always shows up to pack the upper deck at the Garden, to hurl insults at Comm Ave, and to believe, in spite of ourselves, that this time there won’t be heartbreak. That this time, things will be different. As our very own Huskies showed us last March, things can be different.
Davis: I actually missed my first Beanpot in college- the 2012 Beanpot I watched from a friend’s dorm room, where BC demolished NU 7-1. The next year, I watched Monday Night Roy take center stage from another friend’s room, and was enthralled by the up-and-down game, the skill of Roy, and the determination of the team to overcome BU. The championship game that year was my first game at the Beanpot, and it was, to that point, the most fun I had at a sporting event. I was hooked. I had the privilege of being the leader of the Northeastern DogHouse for three seasons, and each season the Beanpot was the ultimate experience for me. The drought is well documented on campus, but that never mitigated the hype felt during the week leaning up to the game (#BEANPOTHYPEWEEK) nor diminished the energy that students brought to TD Garden to watch the game.
Whether it was the early game against Harvard, or the late games against BC and BU, the first round was always highlighted by the unbridled optimism that this was the year. Middler year we put a hurting on Harvard before advancing to the ill-fated matchup with the Gaudreau-Arnold-Hayes-led Eagles. Junior year (4th year in Northeastern-speak), after BU and Harvard played to double-overtime and pushed our start date back by hours, the Huskies won in a thriller, with Darou scoring only his second career goal. Wednesday Morning Darou, we called him- which led to other, non-PG nicknames used for him in the DogHouse that season. That game was also memorable when we sang a cover of “Stacy’s Mom,” replacing it with “Demko’s Mom,” in honor of the BC goalie’s mother, and you can clearly hear eight sections of students singing a-capella when you watched on NESN. Both of those years, the finals were incredibly passionate, loud, well-attended affairs. I was told that the championship game against BU in 2015 we set the unofficial student section attendance mark, filling over eleven balcony sections of the TD Garden upper deck. Even the first round last year, against BU, it was a well-attended, high energy game, with students bouncing off the trains walls on their way to the game and standing by their team until the last buzzer hit.
The Beanpot is special to Northeastern in a way similar to how the Army-Navy football game was always special to Army even though they had lost to Navy for fourteen straight seasons. Every year, you have a chance to make a statement against your biggest rival(s). Every year, Army (and Northeastern) are given barely a chance to win, written off from the get-go. And every year, their supporters, fans, students, faculty, and players embark on the same path, fueled by nothing but optimism and hope that the streak ends this year. This past season, Army finally defeated Navy, breaking that streak. At the end of the day, the Beanpot is a two-game tournament, meaning regardless of records to date, anyone can win it. “Records get thrown out the window in the Beanpot,” I’ve heard Tom Caron say on NESN before. This year that is as true as ever. With Northeastern’s offense, all they need is two good games out of Ruck. We have seen him do it before. He can do it again. With the eyes and hearts of all Northeastern fans set on it, the team will play again with one goal, the same goal from the past twenty-eight years, firmly in their sites- one for the thumb. This is the year for title number 5.