For the past 62 years, February in Boston means one thing if you’re a college hockey fan. Beanpot hockey.
Since 1952, the TD Garden in Boston has been home to the annual Beanpot tournament. The four largest hockey programs in Boston, Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern, and Harvard, face-off in early February for 18,000 dedicated fans and for the storied Beanpot trophy.
The Beanpot began as regular season games to the four schools, which were all part of the ECAC until the formation of Hockey East in 1984. When it started, not only was a trophy on the line, but important conference points were too.
Each Beanpot tournament goes down as something special in the record books, from the blizzard of 1978 that trapped hundreds of fans in the then Boston Garden, Wayne Turner’s overtime goal in 1980 to secure Northeastern’s first championship, to the first Most-Valuable Player award going to a player on the 2nd place team (Kevin Roy) in 2013.
The tournament also hosts one of the best college hockey rivalries in the nation in Boston University and Boston College. Collectively, the two schools boast 48 titles. For all 62 years of the Beanpot, one, or both, of these two teams plays in the championship game. Northeastern and Harvard have never played against each other for the title.
To the competing teams and loyal fans, the Beanpot is more than just a trophy. It brings with it a year worth of bragging rights, and claim to the title of best hockey team in Boston. With the same four school competing each year, and rivalries brewing for decades, the teams don’t treat Beanpot games like any other regular season games. They’re special, and that makes the Beanpot notoriously difficult to win, for any team.
Despite the difficulty of winning the Beanpot, Boston University has found a way to win the tournament a record 29 times, nearly half of the total tournaments. Most of these 29 wins came under coach Jack Parker’s rule, while current coach David Quinn is still looking for his first tournament win at the helm. Boston College, especially with their recent success, is up there with BU, with 19 tournament wins to their name. Jerry York, the winningest coach in NCAA hockey, may be poised for another victory.
Boston has been strongly represented in college hockey for years, so being regarded as the top team in the city is a huge accomplishment. Players on these teams, when asked why they chose their school, often listed the Beanpot as one of the main reasons. It’s a legendary tournament not only locally, but nationally.