It was the 66th time Boston’s top four college hockey programs took to the ice for this annual event.
The Beanpot Hockey Tournament may not be universally known outside the Boston area.
However, its storied tradition makes it one of the premier athletic events during the New England winter.
The Beanpot burst onto the Boston sports scene in 1952 like a bone jarring check into the boards.
Before face masks appeared on goalies and ESPN television coverage became ubiquitous, the Beanpot became an instant draw by pitting Boston’s four best college hockey programs for bragging rights among the area’s passionate hockey fans.
The Beanpot Brings Together College Hockey Rivals Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University
Now in its seventh decade, the Beanpot brings Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University to an annual battle at the Boston Garden as players vie for Hub City’s college hockey supremacy.
The former ECAC, now Hockey East, hockey programs originally faced off in the prestigious tournament over 60 years ago. They have been integral participants in this intensely localized, two day event.
With its debut, Beanpot fever emerged in the Boston area. The sports event capitalized on all four schools. They were comparable in student enrollment and located only short trolley rides away from each others’ urban campuses.
Four highly motivated hockey teams enthusiastically descended upon the bad ice of the old Boston Garden each year.
And, one school skated away with a coveted trophy from one of college sports’ best overall experiences.
Surprisingly, the Beanpot began with small expectations in December, 1952. “It was designed as a filler,” said Northeastern coach Jack Grinold, the unofficial historian of all things Beanpot. “I mean, it was originally the first two nights after Christmas of 1952. It was to help the arena on off nights. It’s way, way beyond that now.”
However, a brilliant marketing ploy moved the event to the quieter month of February. This bold move greatly boosted attendance. A few years later, the annual tournament transformed from popular to iconic.
Legendary stories have always accompanied Beanpot references. None is better than the 1978 Beanpot when the epic Boston Blizzard of that year dumped over two feet of snow and stranded hundreds of fans for two days at the old Boston Garden. Until they were able to return home, fans from the four rival schools were forced to reside harmoniously in the old Boston Garden.
The Beanpot Hockey Tournament Started in 1952
Since its inception in 1952, Beanpot rivalries have flourished in Boston hockey circles. The area’s rabid fans eagerly await each February tournament to help free them from New England winter doldrums and fuel an early spring fever.
According to former BU forward and 1980 Olympic gold medal winner David Silk, “Tradition and emotion are two words that come to mind when referencing the Beanpot. Anyone who has a pulse around here (Boston) knows about the tradition of the Beanpot.”
Per Silk’s quote, tradition certainly abounds at the Beanpot. Some fans can purportedly recite overall tournament records and individual stat sheets from all 60+ years of games.
Led for 40 years by legendary coach Jack Parker with three national titles, Boston University tops the Beanpot record book. B.U. has captured the most overall wins and has scored in an incredible 100+ straight games since 1963.
Boston College ranks second in Beanpot titles and has historically taken the ice as B.U.’s cross town rival and most hated nemesis. BC owes its success to Jerry York, college hockey’s most successful coach with five overall national titles on his resume.
Harvard’s place is secure in Beanpot history with 10 total titles and the tournament’s top scorer Joe Cavanaugh with 19 points.
Not to be overlooked, Northeastern has captured four Beanpot crowns and boasts the tournament’s best goalie in Bruce Racine who tallied an amazing 237 saves in 8 career games.
Boston sports fans have so totally embraced Beanpot hockey over the years that the wildly successful annual tournament has spawned Beanpot competitions in other collegiate sports around Boston.
Beanpot Hockey Has Spawned Other Boston Area Tournaments
Beanpot tournaments in baseball, softball, cycling, rowing, women’s hockey and lacrosse have steadily grown each year in the Boston area.
When it comes to tradition, rivalry, school spirit, great hockey and a short break from a long winter, the annual Beanpot Hockey Tournament reigns supreme for Boston sports fans.
This hallowed hockey tournament finds the back of the net in the #6 spot of my FREE sports comic book covering Boston Sports Icons.
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Read about the history of the Beanpot Hockey Tournament as well as about other iconic sports Boston sports figures like Bobby Orr, Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Larry Bird and more.
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