BU men’s hockey looks to take down BC in the opening week of the historic Beanpot tournament

Terriers circled up the logo as one of the post-game rituals. Photo Courtesy of Ruyuan Li/ BU News Service.

By Allyn Tucker

Boston University News Service

Boston University’s 2024 bid to win the men’s Beanpot championship kicks off this Monday night as the Terriers take on rivals Boston College, marking the third time the teams have faced each other in just a week and a half. 

Along with BU, Northeastern, Harvard and BC participate in the historic Beanpot tournament each year, which has occurred on the first two Mondays of February since 1952. The tournament, unique to the Boston hockey scene, draws in sold out crowds of diehard fans looking to witness the ultimate opportunity for bragging rights in their city. 

“It’s something that has to be seen if you’re a Bostonian, and this ticket is the toughest ticket they’ve had in a long, long time to get in,” said former BU men’s hockey head coach Jack Parker.

BU is the winningest team in the tournament’s history, taking home 31 Beanpot titles with their most recent title coming in 2022. BC trails with 20 titles, Harvard with 11 and defending 2023 champions Northeastern with just 8. 

“You watch it growing up every year, but playing in one of them, winning one of them, losing a couple of them, [is] super special,” BU captain Case McCarthy said at the annual Beanpot luncheon. “What it means to us as players, to our school, to our fans… to everyone involved it’s really special.”

BU’s semi-final matchup with BC will prove to be difficult as the Terriers attempt to defeat their rivals for the first time this season in three meetings. A couple of great goalie performances, empty net goals and power play goals allowed the Eagles to sweep the Terriers in their recent home-and-home series. 

“They got some difference makers,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said regarding the upcoming game. “They don’t need a lot of chances to put the puck in the back of the net. It should be a lot of fun.”

Greg Brown, who’s in his second season as head coach of the BC Eagles, isn’t dwelling on the results of the previous series – Monday’s game is a new competition with new stakes.

“It’ll be a little different,” Brown said. “When you talk to people, either your alums or your peers, you know what’s the thing they still mention: win the Beanpot. That’s the first thing you get if you’re from one of [these] four schools, more than good luck in the national tournament at the end of the year.”

For Terrier hockey alum and head coach of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins Mike Sullivan, this year’s Beanpot is extra special. After taking home two titles in 1987 and 1990, Sullivan is the 2024 Beanpot Hall of Fame inductee. Sullivan had four goals and nine assists in eight Beanpot appearances, and his tournament performances remain some of BU’s best.

“It’s an incredible honor when you think about some of the players that have participated in this tournament over the years,” Sullivan said. “All of us that have had the opportunity and privilege to play in it, we hold it close to our hearts and pay attention and take notice every February.”

Legendary BU coach Jack Parker, who led the Terriers to great success for 40 seasons, added on to Sullivan’s praise.

“Mike is a great guy. He was a great leader, great captain for us, obviously a great NHLer and now a terrific coach,” Parker said. “One of the all time class acts I’ve ever coached.”

The Terriers are facing extra pressure to perform in the Beanpot following last year’s surprise fourth-place finish and recent losses to BC and Northeastern. Despite the pressure, BU is still excited for the two special Mondays in February. Coach Pandolfo, a Beanpot champion himself, understands the importance and excitement better than most.

“For a lot of our guys it’s their first time experiencing it… it’s gonna be emotional, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I think it’s going to be great for the fans in New England that love college hockey.”

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