Twice a year, on the first two Mondays of February, the TD Garden plays host to the only game in town. Rather than being bathed in a sea of Green or Black & Gold, the stands are adorned in various shades of red. Instead of cheering on the home team as one, the fans are divided into four separate crowds, jeering one another. Whether they’re supporting Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern or Harvard, they all have one thing in common.
They want the Beanpot, and it’s the best hockey you’re not watching.
The Beanpot pits the four major Boston area College Hockey schools against one another in a single-elimination tournament. Throughout the sixty-nine previous editions of the Beanpot BU has won the trophy most often, with 31 championships. Northeastern, despite having the fewest Beanpot championships with just 8, has won four of the last five. On Tuesday night, these two schools will compete in the Final for the fourth time since 2015.
On paper this matchup is a lopsided affair.
BU is atop the Hockey East Conference and ranked #3 in the country with a loaded lineup of elite talent. Fourteen BU players have already been drafted into the NHL, including eight in the first three rounds. That’s not even counting Macklin Celebrini, who at 17 years old is top-five nationally in scoring and the favorite to be drafted #1 overall this June.
The Terriers are riding high into the Final after exacting revenge on arch rival BC. The Eagles swept a #1 vs #2 weekend series in January and Celebrini & Co returned the favor last Tuesday.
Conversely, Northeastern is a distant 8th in Hockey East and unranked nationally. The offseason departures of NHLers Aidan McDonough and Devon Levi had a significant impact on the Huskies, who slumped to a 2-7-1 start. However, despite their struggles and having just eight drafted players, the Huskies will not be phased by the big stage.
Northeastern have proven to be effective giant killers, having beaten #1 BC and #6 Maine, splitting overtime wins with BU and taking reigning National Champions #5 Quinnipiac to a shootout.
The Huskies survived against a sub-par Harvard team in overtime to reach the Beanpot final, despite heavily controlling play and outshooting the Crimson 35-20.
BU will be led by Celebrini and smooth-skating Defenseman Lane Hutson to secure their 32nd Beanpot. Whereas Northeastern will lean on Alex Campbell and the white-hot Jack Williams to pull off the upset.
Puck drop for the Final will be 7:30 Monday night on NESN and ESPN+.
Photos: Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images