2013 Women's Beanpot Preview: More Than A Trophy

via Nathan Vaughan

This year's women's Beanpot is about much more than the hardware. With 3 of the teams ranked in the top 5 in the nation, the winner could become a virtual lock to host an NCAA quarterfinal.

*All games at Matthews Arena, Northeastern University

5:00 pm: Boston College vs. Harvard University

Boston College Eagles (20-4-2, 13-2-1 WHEA)
Pairwise Rank: 2nd -- USCHO/USA Hockey Polls: 2nd/2nd -- KRACH: 4th of 32
Streak: W3 -- Trend: 19-1-2 in last 22 games

The Eagles' season has been without question the best in program history. BC is a young squad that started out with a rough stretch of games but found its legs and went on an absolute tear through the middle portion of the season. A 3-2 loss to #7 Mercyhurst on 1/19 ended a program-best 13 game winning streak and 18 game unbeaten streak. BC nearly doubled up the Lakers in shots in the loss, but more importantly played its first game of the season without freshman phenom Haley Skarupa who, at the time, was leading Hockey East in scoring.

Skarupa left the previous game with was was rumored to be a separated shoulder and hasn't seen the ice since. With weaker competition in the weeks following, Eagles fans have been hoping Skarupa has just been taking extra time to recover with bigger games on the horizon. But if rumors of a separated shoulder are true, it could be a longer time frame.

BC is a great team without Skarupa but almost unbeatable by teams not named Minnesota with the underclass tandem of Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa both skating the same line. No word yet on whether Skarupa will be able to take the ice against the Crimson, but BC fans are hoping and praying.

Harvard Crimson (17-2-2, 14-1-1 ECAC)
Pairwise Rank: 5th -- USCHO/USA Hockey Polls: 3rd/4th -- KRACH: 5th of 32
Streak: T1 -- Trend: 1-1-1 in last 3 games

Why did I just go back 3 games for Harvard's "trend"? Because when you're 17-2-2, going 1-1-1 in your last 3 games says quite a bit about how you're playing. Harvard is a good team but played an astonishingly easy schedule to start the season, sprinting out to a 16-1-1 record but only having played 3 ranked teams. It was such a weak schedule that a loss to Clarkson on January 25th dropkicked them from 2nd to 7th in the Pairwise Rankings and just 0.002 RPI points from falling out of the NCAA tournament field entirely -- such is the quirkyness of the Pairwise.

Their ranking has since stabilized at 5th in the rankings, which is more or less where they belong, but just a few RPI points and one or two TUC wins away from jumping up as high as #2 again.

Harvard makes its name with crippling defense, allowing just 19 goals in 21 games. However, the Crimson haven't faced an offense as prolific as BC's this season. It's BC's 4.85 goals per game versus Harvard's 0.90 goals allowed per game. The winner of that battle should take the victory.

Your fearless leaders' predictions:
Joe Gravellese: Boston College
Brian Favat: Boston College
Conrad Kaczmarek: Boston College
Jeff Martyn: Boston College
Take it to the bank: Grant Salzano: If the Eagles do indeed have Skarupa back, BC should be favored. Without, this one's a coin flip. I'll be optimistic and say BC is still able to take this one. BC 3, HU 1 (ENG)

8:00 pm: Boston University vs. Northeastern University

Boston University Terriers (18-3-3, 13-2-1 WHEA)
Pairwise Rank: 3rd -- USCHO/USA Hockey Polls: 4th/3rd -- KRACH: 3rd of 32
Streak: W7 -- Trend: 11-0-2 in last 13 games

The Lady Terriers have really gone on quite a winning stretch in their last 13 games. Like BC, the bulk of their streak was built on some weaker teams, but there were some decent teams in there as well. Notably, BU has gone 3-0-2 against ranked teams in that stretch, with wins against Northeastern and Harvard and a pair of ties against Minnesota-Duluth.

The last couple years, BU's been a bit of a one-trick pony with superstar Marie-Philip Poulin being their Johnny Gaudreau -- as she went, so went the Terriers -- but this year Poulin is less a game-changing talent than she is one part of a surprisingly deep BU squad. She still leads the Terriers in points, but is closely followed by six other players with at least 19 points in BU's 24 games.

Northeastern University (14-10-2, 8-7-1 WHEA)
Pairwise Rank: 12nd -- USCHO/USA Hockey Polls: ARV/ARV -- KRACH: 12th of 32
Streak: L1 -- Trend: 6-7-0 in last 13 games

Northeastern is probably the most interesting team in the tournament in that they're playing the role of dark horse. Despite the high ranking of the other three teams in the tournament, Northeastern has proven that they have the ability to hang right with some of the top teams. A 4-3 win over #6 Clarkson is their only win against a ranked team, but in their most recent stretch of .500 hockey they've lost to #5 Harvard, #4 Cornell, and #3 BU twice, but all by 2 goals or less.

Northeastern is more what I would have expected BU to be this year, with one extremely talented player pulling the team along as far as she's able. That player for the Huskies would be Kendall Coyne, a forward for Team USA who at 46 points has at least 19 more than everyone else on the NU roster.

Your fearless leaders' predictions:
Joe Gravellese: Boston University
Brian Favat: Boston University
Conrad Kaczmarek: Boston University
Jeff Martyn: Boston University
Take it to the bank: Grant Salzano: As much as I'd love to see Northeastern pull this upset on their home ice, I really don't hold all that much hope. BU is the better team and has been playing their best hockey of the season: BU 3, NU 1.

Finals predictions:
Joe Gravellese: Boston College
Brian Favat: Boston College
Conrad Kaczmarek: Boston College
Jeff Martyn: Boston University
Take it to the bank: Grant Salzano: BC and BU have already played three times this season. BC lost its first game of the year to the Terriers as a team full of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores, with no preseason exhibition. Since then we've completely dominated BU with a 7-1 domination on the road and a horrible 5-5 tie in which the Terriers were outshot 43-21. No, BU is the better team, and while BU is formidable, this is the Eagles' Beanpot to lose. BC 5, BU 2 (ENG).

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