From the ivy-laden confines of Cambridge to the tried streets of the South End, thousands will flock to the first round of the 61st annual Beanpot tomorrow night—a New England ritual like no other. Revered for professional sports teams and the legends that make them great, Boston sheds its traditional fanhood for a little, watching four of the city’s major universities duel for the region’s most coveted hockey trophy.
A true Boston tradition, the Beanpot began in December of 1952. The same four teams that play today: Harvard, Northeastern, Boston University and Boston College, played in single-elimination tournament format at Matthews Arena across from Northeastern University. In the inaugural championship game, Harvard defeated BU, 7-4, and a staple in New England sports was born.
Since then, 60 Beanpots have been played in the midst of the bleak New England winter. Cumulatively, BU has the most championships with 29, while BC trails behind with 17. Harvard and Northeastern have only won ten and four Beanpots, respectively.
One Beanpot in particular went down in Boston sports history infamy for the events that took place outside of the game. During the first round of the 1978 tournament, more than two feet of snow dumped on the region, trapping hundreds of spectators and players in the Garden for multiple days. A record 27 inches of snow fell as people trapped in the arena waited it out with their college hockey teams.
Incredible games over the 60-year span have given fans much to cheer for. From Wayne Turner’s “Shot Heard Around the Beanpot,” which lifted Northeastern over BC in the 1980 championship, to Bill Arnold’s glorious last-second goal in 2012, which lifted BC past Comm. Ave. rival BU. There is bound to be drama and intense competition, regardless of the gaps in skill between opposing teams.
That being said, Boston College and BU have dominated the Beanpot for years. There has never been an instance in which both Northeastern and Harvard have played in the championship game—the talent BC and BU bring in make it a seemingly impossible task for both NU and Harvard to win out and meet each other in the finale.
While BC and BU have seen great success, all of the games are infused with great pride and respect for a sport so engrained in New England culture. The masses come together at TD Garden to experience a piece of history in the making, separated by school but united through a love for amateur hockey.
It will not be the Bruins or Celtics gracing the Garden for the next two Mondays. But for once, Bostonians will not mind. Instead of worshipping the likes of Tyler Seguin and Paul Pierce, college hockey will take over.
The names “Johnny Gaudreau” and “Wade Megan” will echo throughout Boston’s cathedral of indoor sports. Schools will come together to talk trash, exchange dirty looks and cheer on their team. But, most of all, the city will come together to watch a sport rooted in the city’s existence—at the purest, humblest level. Not much more beats the raw emotion and spirit of collegiate hockey—something that has not changed since the Beanpot’s inception on that December day in 1952.