Now that the 61st annual Beanpot tournament is in the history books, where do the four teams go from here?
Although they didn’t play each other on Monday, the press conferences for Boston University and Boston College were polar opposites.
The Terriers, who lost to Harvard in the consolation game, have gone off the rails. The Eagles, who beat Northeastern to earn their fourth consecutive Beanpot title for the first time in school history, appear to be putting their game together at just the right time as the regular-season stretch run approaches.
The Huskies gave BC all it could handle and will turn their attention to the Hockey East playoff hunt.
Harvard will try to use the victory as a building block for another run at the ECAC championship game despite being seriously undermanned.
What’s right with BC has been right for a long time, although the Eagles were a bit erratic with regard to team defense at earlier points in the season. What’s wrong with BU started after the holiday break.
After a very strong start (10-5-0), the Terriers came back from Christmas and have proceeded to drop seven of the last 11 (3-7-1). BU has given up four or more goals on 10 occasions this season. What do you think is their record in those games? Predictably, they are 0-10.
Coach Jack Parker’s consternation was palpable when he talked about his team’s change in fortunes.
“In general, it was just more of the same from my club, it’s just not quite right,’’ said Parker, referring to the 7-4 loss to the Crimson. “I loved the way we were together, I loved the way we were competing, I loved everything about our team the first semester. Then we come back after Christmas, and from the get go, we have not played anywhere near up to the way we played in the first semester. There is something that has taken the steam out of that team, there is something that is going on in the dressing room. I thought I had my hand on it or my thumb on it. We just can’t seem to get ourselves emotionally ready to play the way we have to play. We don’t have anywhere near the discipline and the focus and the attention to detail, especially on defense, that we need. We had all of those things the first semester. It’s almost like we threw a switch the second semester.
“It’s been a lack of effort, a lack of discipline, I think we’ve played three good games this semester. Coach [Bill] Parcells says, `You are who you are.’ This is who we are right now. We are one game over .500 [at 13-12-1]. That’s a long way from where we were in December.’’
It doesn’t get any easier. The team travels to Alfond Arena for a pair of games at Maine this weekend. It’s the same Black Bear team that swept BC during the last weekend in January.
For Harvard, which is operating with a challengingly thin roster, the win over BU was a long-needed boost that halted a nine-game winless streak (0-8-1). The Crimson’s previous win was also over BU on Jan. 9. What made Monday’s victory even sweeter was that they played without their leading scorer (Jimmy Vesey, who is injured) and Harvard was playing on back-to-back days. The Crimson went to overtime with Dartmouth and finished with a 1-1 tie on Sunday.
“There is no secret that along the lines here we’ve been decimated by a number of injuries [and an academic scandal],’’ said coach Ted Donato. “We are still hoping to get a couple of guys back here for the stretch run. It’s a resilient group and a proud group. On a certain level, it’s been impressive to me to watch their resiliency and their overall attitude and atmosphere around the locker room.’’
Senior captain Danny Biega said he is buoyed by their third-place finish in the Beanpot.
“I think it will immensely help and it has the ability to turn the team around,’’ said Biega.
Northeastern (8-14-3) started out like gangbusters with victories over Merrimack and BC (which ended the Eagles’ winning streak at 19 games dating to last year) but they fell back to earth. With Beanpot MVP Kevin Roy, who is just a freshman, and senior goaltender Chris Rawlings leading the way, the Huskies are sure to be heard from in the final four weekends of the regular season.
“We’ve got a lot of hockey left,’’ said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan, whose team lost to BC, 6-3, in the Beanpot title game. “And we can still get back to [the Garden for the Hockey East championship] if we play like we did in the third period [against BC] and show determination and resiliency. Those are words that are hard to take when you’ve just lost the Beanpot. We’ve been resilient all year long and we’ll work hard and use it as a launch [for the stretch run].’’