Last night, the Boston College men's hockey team trumped Northeastern at TD Garden to win their fifth consecutive Beanpot.
(That's not entirely relevant to this story, but I'm going to write it again just to enjoy it for a moment.)
Tonight, the Northeastern women look to continue a modest streak of their own, as the Huskies are two-time defending champions in the women's Beanpot. BC will face Northeastern tonight in the women's final at 8 PM at Conte Forum; like their male counterparts, NU and BC made it past Harvard and BU respectively last Tuesday to punch their tickets.
The Huskies (14-12-2) are in the ascendancy and come into this final with a lot of momentum. After a shocking 7-12-2 start, Northeastern's season looked lost. But since an 0-1-1 weekend against BC in January, in which Northeastern fought BC tooth and nail, and required the Eagles to come back to tie at home and win by one on the road, the Huskies have been on fire, going 7-0 with wins over BU and Harvard.
While Northeastern has no chance of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament - they sit at #15 in the PWR - NU is solidly into third in Hockey East and could be a force to be reckoned with in the Hockey East tournament. Tonight's game could provide a solid measuring stick for them to know how realistic that goal really is.
For BC, this game becomes as much about recovering momentum as it is about winning a trophy. After an unbeaten start to calendar year 2014 that saw the Eagles pull way, way away in the Hockey East regular season race -- they currently have a 5 point lead with 4 games to go -- BC hit a roadblock in the form of a shocking 2-0 loss at UConn on Saturday.
BC (20-5-3) is still in good shape for making the NCAA tournament, as long as they don't severely slip up in the final weeks. They sit in 6th place in the pairwise, with a narrow lead over #7 North Dakota but a semi-decent RPI gap back to Robert Morris and Mercyhurst behind them.
From the perspective of an Eagles fan, however, the real question is whether they can go into the tournament with a head of steam, demonstrating their dominance of Hockey East. They are going to realistically have to travel to Cornell or Clarkson and knock them off in the first round in order to make the Frozen Four. Those teams are far better than anything Hockey East has to offer.
BC has started to round into the offensive form many expected from the word go in recent weeks, putting up 4- and 5-spots against BU (twice), Vermont, UNH, Providence. More importantly, the scoring depth has been excellent, with Haley Skarupa starting to light the lamp again after a bit of a slump, and freshmen like Andie Anastos and Kristyn Capizzano adding depth to the attack. The Eagles currently boast 7 forwards with 20 points or more -- Skarupa, Capizzano, Anastos, Dana Trivigno, Kate Leary and Emily Field. Tonight will be a good indication as to whether the UConn game represented a brief bump in the road or a return to the on-again off-again offense of the fall.
NU's improvement over the course of the season is indicated by the difference between the BC-NU game in November, which BC won 6-1, and the two tight games back in January. Tonight's game will more likely resemble the latter two. NU junior goaltender Chloe Desjardins has done a good job in net; while her .923 save percentage is mid-pack, she's had a few excellent performances, including stonewalling BC in both of those January games.
The game will be streamed live for free on BCEagles.com; you can also head out to Conte Forum and catch the game in person. It should be a good one - and a chance for BC to win "double Beanpots" for the second time ever (2011 being the first).