Beanpot championship features Boston rivalry

BOSTON -- As dynasties go, the Boston University hockey team has played its way into poster-child status when it comes to the Beanpot.

For 54 years, the boys of Commonwealth Ave. have dogged their three city rivals in this annual February rite of bragging rights. In fact, the Terriers have skated around the Garden ice with the little silver trophy 27 times. By contrast, Boston College, Harvard and Northeastern have a combined 27 Beanpot titles.

So by the time the second Monday of the month comes to a close, Jack Parker's players have usually found their way to the postgame celebration at the Dugout -- a dive bar on campus that has achieved its own poster-child status.

And that has been the case almost exclusively in terms of recent history.

When BU faces BC Monday night on Causeway Street, the Terriers will be participating in their 13th consecutive Beanpot final (and 40th of the last 44) and will be seeking their 11th title since 1995.

"The Beanpot has historically brought out the best in us," Parker said.

Yeah, and that Sidney Crosby has a pretty good future in hockey.

As much as the Eagles and Crimson and Huskies have become perennial BU fodder, everyone was led to believe that this year was really going to be different.

All four teams came in playing well or with enough talent to win it all, so no one was supposed to be surprised to see a Northeastern-Harvard final -- even though that has never happened. So why is anyone really surprised that we're going to see the 19th edition of BU-BC for the Beanpot title?

Both winners looked strong in last Monday's openers, as BU skated to a 4-0 victory over Northeastern and BC topped Harvard 3-1 in the nightcap.

"I thought that was one of our most thorough games all year," Parker said. "We were terrific in all three zones. We did a lot of things really well. We probably played two or three other games that come close to that in terms of our ability to control our destiny. It was a terrific effort as a team."

The Terriers got production from several lines, but the total team effort started and ended with goaltender John Curry, who had 27 saves in recording his sixth shutout of the season (and 12th of his career) and improved to 4-0 in his Beanpot career.

It was the senior assistant captain (talk about respect from his teammates) who almost single-handedly withstood an early barrage from the Huskies in the first period before the rest of the BU players found their legs.

From there, it was a Terriers freight train.

"It's a game of emotions and you feed off each other's emotions," NU coach Greg Cronin said. "And we had a little swagger coming in. After the 10-minute mark of the first period, the tide changed and BU started to come in waves.

"I really felt it was men against boys. When you play BU it becomes a trench battle. They outnumbered us on pucks all over the ice. BU basically controlled the boards. Bottom line is they outskated us, they outhit us and they outpossessed us with the puck. Game over."

That's what BU does to opponents on certain Monday nights in February.

Up next are the very familiar Eagles, who own a 2-1 edge over BU in their season series, with the road team having won every game.

"[The matchup] produces terrific games," BC coach Jerry York said. "The games this year have been high intensity with a lot of skilled players on both sides of the puck for the Terriers and the Eagles. It should be a classic Beanpot final."

BC beat BU for the Beanpot title in 2001 and 2004, so 2007 would seem like a natural for another Eagles title.

BC (16-10-1) comes in having won four of its last five games. The Eagles are led by senior captain Brian Boyle (13 goals, 16 assists, 29 points), sophomore right winger Benn Ferriero (13-14-27) and senior left winger Joe Rooney (10-17-27).

Junior goaltender Cory Schneider (2.33 goals-against average, .933 save percentage) hasn't been as consistent as in years past, but the former U.S. national team netminder and first-round Vancouver draft pick has proven many times that he can steal a game in a big spot.

"We have BU in the final and we're really looking forward to that," said BC left winger Nathan Gerbe, who scored the game winner against the Crimson. "That's what all the fans want, that's what all the players want and the coaches want, so it will be something terrific to see."

BU (15-5-8) started 2007 on a 6-0-1 tear but has cooled a bit (2-1-2) since then. The Terriers are lead by sophomore center Chris Higgins (10-16-26), junior left winger Pete MacArthur (13-12-25) -- last year's Beanpot MVP -- and senior left winger Kenny Roche (9-14-23).

Beyond being simply another edition of this great city rivalry, you get the added importance of a title being on the line, which has served the Terriers well on this particular stage for so many years.

"It definitely comes at the right time for us," BU senior captain Sean Sullivan said. "It's extra motivation for us because it's in front of a big crowd. We always thrive at the Beanpot. Whether we're struggling a game before, we always look towards the Beanpot because we bring out our best."

To the tune of 27 times and counting.

David Albright is the senior coordinator for college sports at ESPN.com. He can be reached at david.albright@espn3.com.