Forget Boston University—it's the Harvard Crimson who play the role of BC Women's Hockey's biggest nemesis on the national stage.
Sure, there's the natural hate from lining up on the blue line across from the Terriers. But Boston University's varsity program has only been in existence since the 2005-2006 season, and while BU's 5 consecutive Hockey East championships have upped the ante over the last several years, BC's rivalry with Harvard has much deeper roots.
BC and Harvard have played every season for as far back as USCHO's schedules go (the 1998-1999 season) and have probably played for much longer than that. The Women's Beanpot dates back to 1979, and while BC and Harvard haven't played in every iteration of the tournament, the two teams often scheduled regular season matchups in years where they weren't guaranteed a bout in the Beanpot semifinals.
Harvard was one of the real powers of the pre-NCAA era and despite the vice grip the WCHA has held since, the Crimson have never dropped from the national conversation. Harvard's history is filled with current and future Hockey Hall of Famers, and some of those early contests were brutal for BC. One game in 2003 saw a Harvard roster stocked with All-World players like Angela Ruggiero, Julie Chu, Jennifer Botterill laying waste to a comparably weak BC squad in a 17-2 beatdown.
But BC's rise has led to a storyline that goes back almost a decade. Let's take a look back at some of the classics.
Women's Beanpot Semifinal: February 6th, 2007
Boston College 4, Harvard 3 (3OT)
BC's rise to national relevance all started in the 2006-2007 season with a monster recruiting class headlined by goalie Molly Schaus and forwards Allie Thunstrom and Kelli Stack.
BC was a big underdog against another stacked Harvard squad, but the Eagles had put themselves squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble going into Beanpot Tuesday. Molly Schaus set all kinds of records with her performance in goal, stopping a whopping 73 of 76 shots (!!) to keep BC in the game for not one, not two, but three overtimes.
Just a few minutes from a fourth overtime, with the time approaching 1:00am and the two teams about ready to drop, BC's Anna McDonald just barely chipped the puck over the outstretched arm of Harvard's goalie to win the game for the Eagles.
BC would go on to win that Beanpot, and McDonald's goal was almost solely responsible for putting BC's season-ending PWR above the mark necessary to make the NCAA tournament. And to put an accent on the budding rivalry, McDonald would transfer to Harvard for the very next season.
The 2007 Beanpot semifinal was such a classic that it changed the rules for future Beanpots—no longer would any games other than the final be allowed to go beyond 5 minutes of overtime.
Women's Beanpot Championship: February 10th, 2009
Boston College 1, Harvard 0
Fast forward to Schaus, Stack, and Thunstrom's last season as a trio: Stack and Schaus would take a year off for the Olympics the next year and Thunstrom would graduate the following offseason. It was all BC's superstars in this classic heavyweight bout at Matthews Arena.
Schaus held Harvard scoreless deep into the third period when the Eagles took a penalty with Harvard buzzing and poised for the killshot. But a big time block and steal at the blue line from Thunstrom sent BC off to the races, and Stack finished off the play for the only goal of the game. Schaus took over from there, and BC won the Beanpot.
Women's Beanpot Semifinals: February 2nd, 2010
Harvard 5, Boston College 0
The following season, with BC's Olympians taking the year off, Harvard brought the pain.
Harvard's Liza Ryabkina totally went off on the Eagles, scoring four goals and controlling the game herself from start to finish. It was a reminder to the Eagles that even though BC was the new kid on the block on the national stage, Harvard was still top dog in Boston.
Regular Season: December 7th, 2013
Boston College 1, Harvard 1
2013 marked the point at which BC started to feel like Harvard was a peer program, rather than a powerhouse still to be toppled. This regular season game was a true showcase of that.
In front of a surprisingly loud and rowdy crowd of 1,729, BC went on the road and went stride for stride and then some with the Crimson, outshooting Harvard 52-36 in a thrilling contest that BC tied with just over a minute to go.
The game ended in a tie, but the Eagles used it as a springboard for a successful second half. BC won the Beanpot, although they didn't have to go through Harvard to get it, and took down Harvard in the NCAA tournament to advance to the Frozen Four.
The 2014-2015 Season Series
What a narrative within a narrative last season was.
BC and Harvard faced off in the regular season, and the Eagles handed Harvard one of its most embarrassing losses in program history.
Regular Season: November 28th, 2014
BC 10 (!!), Harvard 2
BC scored ten goals on the Crimson, marking the high point of an already mind-blowing season and solidifying BC's claim as the #1 team in the nation.
But embarrassing Harvard might have been the worst thing the Eagles could have done.
Beanpot Championship: February 10th, 2015
Harvard 3, BC 2
BC faced off with Harvard at Bright-Landry for the Beanpot finals, and after a BC goal just 1:35 in and the Eagles buzzing, the game had all the signs of being another blowout.
But Harvard galvanized in a way that BC never could have expected. The Crimson scored 3 of the next 4 goals, taking the win, claiming the Beanpot trophy, and ending BC's undefeated run heading into the grind of trophy season.
NCAA Frozen Four: March 20th, 2015
Harvard 2, BC 1
It was the start of a disastrous fall for BC. After falling to Harvard for the Beanpot championship, BC continued its tailspin with a tie to Boston University in the regular season finale, a disappointing loss in the Hockey East championship to the Terriers, and then it was the Crimson once again who showed up to end BC's season.
The Eagles and Crimson were paired up in the Frozen Four with a national championship appearance on the line and BC could never really break through. The Eagles had a 5 minute power play with Harvard's best player, Miye D'Oench, booted from the game for a hit from behind, but couldn't score. It was a bad sign.
BC dominated in shots in all three periods, ending up with a 44-21 advantage when all was said and done, but the game was scoreless into the third period.
Harvard finally broke through with a pair of goals in the third period, and while the Eagles got one back to give themselves a chance, it just wasn't to be. Harvard advanced to the NCAA championship and left the Eagles without any hardware at all in their record-breaking season.
Needless to say, there is plenty of motivation for the Eagles in these games against the Crimson. Harvard isn't quite as talented as they were last season, but they're still hovering around the NCAA tournament bubble and have enough talent to once again disrupt a potential perfect season for BC.
The rivalry continues on Tuesday.