Columnists, Sports

Burn the Boats: Huskies finally get their beans

The world was much different in 1988, the last time Northeastern University won the Beanpot before this past Monday against Boston University. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Congratulations Northeastern. You did it. You won the Beanpot, a tournament that is held every year between the same four schools, and it took you 30 years to win one.

Do you know how much has changed in 30 years? Players still used wood sticks. Wood. When was the last time you have even seen a wooden stick at the store, never mind in a player’s hands on the ice?

In 1988, the last time the Huskies managed to win the Beanpot, Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, the Soviet Union was still a state, the Berlin Wall still stood tall and this thing you are reading this article on, the internet, was still a few years away.

A lot has changed since 1988. The venue that hosted Monday night’s Beanpot, the TD Garden, was still very much a dream in Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs’ mind.

Infamously, the power failed during the 1988 Stanley Cup Final at Boston Garden between the Bruins and Edmonton Oilers, and the building was showing its age.

Yes, Boston Garden, not TD Garden was still the main Boston arena when Northeastern last won the Beanpot. In fact, that rat infested dump of a stadium still stood for another decade. It finally met the wrecking ball 1998 while TD Garden opened in 1995.

1988 was a strange year for college hockey. It was, as this year is, an Olympic year. That used to mean a lot more than it does today.

For one, professional athletes still were not allowed compete for the games, and that meant no NHL players. We still had another decade to go before the NHL and women’s hockey appeared in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Much like this year with the NHL pulling out of the games, USA Hockey selected players from the college game to take to Calgary and compete in the Olympics. Think, you know, along the lines of “The Miracle on Ice” of 1980.

Except 1988 didn’t exactly go like 1980 did. No gold medal, no stunning upset over the Soviets.  The United States finished seventh in Calgary and the college game suffered because their best players weren’t in school.

Just to name a few Brian Leetch (Boston College), Tony Granato (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Mike Richter (Wisconsin), Craig Janney (BC) and Scott Young (Boston University) all missed the entire 1988 college hockey season.  

The Frozen Four that year: Lake Superior State University, the University of Maine, St. Lawrence University and the University of Minnesota. Lake Superior State beat St. Lawrence 4-3 in overtime.

Back to the Olympics, though.

There is a trend here. I’m not saying that the only reason Northeastern finds a way to win the Beanpot is that other schools lose their best players to the Olympics, but it does trend that way.

Eight players from Beanpot schools (none of which were Northeastern) were in Calgary in February 1988 rather than in Boston.

In four out of the five years that the Huskies have won two consecutive games on the first two Mondays in February (that’s the Beanpot for those who didn’t pick up on it), it has happened during Olympic years – 1980 (Lake Placid), 1984 (Sarajevo), 1988 (Calgary) and 2018 (Pyeongchang). Northeastern’s 1985 title is still their only non-Olympic year title.

Mike Eruzione famously asked John Powers of the Boston Globe in 1980 during the Olympics, “Do you know who won the Beanpot?” Powers described that Northeastern had won, beating BC 5-4 in overtime.

Eruzione responded by saying, “Well, it wouldn’t have happened if we were there.”

That being said, the Huskies were the better team Monday night. Having junior forward Jordan Greenway in Pyeongchang certainly didn’t help the Terriers, but it was not the only reason they lost this year’s Beanpot.

One Comment

  1. The final score at this year’s Beanpot was not 5-2 but closer to 5:1. For every BU fan, there were at least five NU fans. Just take a look at the balcony attendance at TD Garden – Northeastern University has been winning Beanpots for years.