The 58th Annual Beanpot Tournament: Preview

The calendar has turned to February, which means it's time for the single worst tournament in sports (huh?) - the 58th Annual Beanpot Tournament.

Location: TD Garden (capacity: 17,565), Boston, Ma.
Date:
Monday, February 1 and Monday, February 8, 2010
TV:
NESN

Participants:

Boston University Terriers (9-11-3, 7-9-2 Hockey East)
Head coach: Jack Parker 
Leading scorers: Jr. Nick Bonino (6-15-21), Jr. Kevin Shattenkirk (3-16-19), So. Vinny Saponari (6-12-18)
Leading goaltender: So. Kieran Millan (7-10-0, 3.31 GAA, .881 SV%)
Beanpot Titles: 29
Last Title: 2009

Boston College Eagles (13-8-2, 10-6-2 Hockey East)
Head coach: Jerry York
Leading scorers: Jr. Brian Gibbons (9-19-28), So. Cam Atkinson (16-10-26), Jr. Joe Whitney (8-13-21)
Leading goaltender: Jr. John Muse (8-6-2, 2.61 GAA, .901 SV%)
Beanpot Titles: 14
Last Title: 2008

Harvard Crimson (5-11-3, 5-6-3 ECAC)
Head coach: Ted Donato
Leading scorers: Fr. Louis Leblanc (9-8-17), Jr. Michael Biega (5-11-16), So. Alex Killorn (6-7-13)
Leading goaltenders: Jr. Kyle Richter (2-8-2, 3.50 GAA, .905 SV%), Jr. Ryan Carroll (3-3-1, 2.55 GAA, .924 SV%) 
Beanpot Titles: 10
Last Title: 1993

Northeastern Huskies (11-11-1, 7-10-1 Hockey East)
Head coach: Greg Cronin
Leading scorers: Sr. Kyle Kraemer (9-8-17), Jr. Wade MacLeod (8-9-17), Jr. Tyler McNeely (7-8-15), Fr. Jake Newton (6-9-15)
Leading goaltender: Fr. Chris Rawlings (10-9-1, 2.87 GAA, .907 SV%)
Beanpot Titles: 4
Last Title: 1988

Schedule:

Monday, February 1, 2010

  • Semifinal #1: Boston College vs. Harvard, 5:00 pm ET
  • Semifinal #2: Boston University vs. Northeastern, 8:00 pm ET

Monday, February 8, 2010

  • Consolation Game: 5:00 pm ET
  • Championship: 8:00 pm ET

It's easy to tab Boston College the favorite in this year's Beanpot, given that BC is the only team with a winning record in the Beanpot Tournament field, but that belittles the fact that Jack Parker's Terriers live to play in this tournament. BC rebounded from a 0 point weekend last weekend to knock off Providence 5-2 on Friday night. BC decided to wear their road maroon sweaters at home to change their fortunes and halt the two game skid. Cam Atkinson led the way for the Eagles with 2 goals and an assist, and was helped by his linemates Joe Whitney (1 goal, 2 assists) and Brian Gibbons (2 assists). The Eagles pushed their record to 13-8-2 and 10-6-2 in Hockey East, tied for 2nd with Massachusetts with 22 points (and 5 points behind first-place New Hampshire). 

The Eagles first opponent will be the only non-Hockey East team in the tournament, the Harvard Crimson. Harvard enters the tournament with a 5-11-3 record overall and a 5-6-3 record in the ECAC (good for 7th in the 12-team conference). While the Crimson enter the tournament 6 games below .500, it was actually much, much worse for Harvard going into winter break. Harvard entered the new year with a 1-8-2 record, on pace to have one of the worst seasons in the 103-year history of the program. Harvard came out of the break winning 4 straight ECAC games over Quinnipiac, Yale, Dartmouth and Union. Harvard's 4 game winning streak was sparked by the play of freshman Louis Leblanc (a draft pick of the Canadiens), who has scored 5-2-7 in the last five games. If not for Harvard's recent tie over RPI and close loss to Princeton this weekend, the Crimson could be considered one of the hottest teams going into the Beanpot.

In the second semifinal game set for 8pm, Boston University looks to defend their Beanpot title against Northeastern. BU is the sole reason why Puck Daddy proclaims that the Beanpot is the single worst tournament in sports. The Terriers have dominated the tournament, winning 12 of the last 15 and 15 of the last 20. The story that you will undoubtedly have shoved down your throat by the media is that the Beanpot will be an opportunity for the Terriers to turn things around this season. BU has been nowhere close to their NCAA Championship form from a year ago, posting a 9-11-3 record overall and a 7-9-2 record in Hockey East. The Terriers, however, enter the Beanpot as the hottest team in the field. After starting the season 4-9-3, BU went 5-2 last month, including two wins over BC and a victory over second place Massachusetts. BU has been sparked by junior Nick Bonino, who tallied 3 assists in the win over UMass, and some great goaltending from Kieran Miller, including a career-high 42 saves in the 5-4 victory over BC.

For the Northeastern Huskies, what a difference a year makes. Northeastern went into last year's Beanpot as perhaps the favorite, backed by the stellar goaltending play of junior Brad Thiessen. Thiessen has since taken his game to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where he plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins' AHL affiliate. This season, the Huskies have struggled through various injuries to a 7-10-1 record in Hockey East. Northeastern's struggles, however, really can't be attributed to replacing Thiessen. Freshman Chris Rawlings has filled in admirably for Thiessen, posting a 10-9-1 record, a 2.87 GAA and a .907 save percentage. Northeastern comes into the Beanpot on a winning note, having knocked off UMass-Lowell 2-1. The Huskies sit one point behind BU in the Hockey East standings, and could possibly upset BU if Rawlings can put together another solid performance in net. 

If all goes according to plan (read: BC beats Harvard and BU defeats Northeastern), next's week's Beanpot Championship game will mark the third time in a month that the Comm. Ave rivals will faceoff on the ice. It will also be the third different venue to host BC-BU since the new year (Fenway Park, Conte Forum, TD Garden).

Predictions? Be sure to check out the SB Nation Bruins blog Stanley Cup of Chowder, who polled several New England area hockey writers and bloggers for their Beanpot predictions. I'm one of the proud few who's backing the Eagles in this tournament.

Go Eagles!

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