For the second season in a row and the third time in the past four years, the women’s Beanpot Championship featured the new and the old: a Boston College unit that had strung together seven-straight 20-win seasons and taken home five of the last 10 Beanpot trophies, and a Northeastern program—one that has claimed 16 Beanpot titles, two more than any other team in the field—that had been dominating the mid-season tournament since the late 1970s.
But unlike the 2016 matchup, last year’s championship bout at Matthews Arena went down to the wire. And for a while, it appeared as if the Huskies were bound to hoist the trophy for the first time in four years. Following two periods of scoreless hockey, Northeastern’s Kasidy Anderson corralled Andrea Renner’s clearance pass near the red line and sprinted toward BC goaltender Katie Burt. With no one else to beat, Anderson went top shelf, handing the Huskies a one-goal lead, just over a minute into the final frame.
All of a sudden, the Eagles’ offense came back to life. Approaching the midway point of the period, Delaney Belinskas relayed the puck to Kristyn Capizzano, who then rifled an equalizer past Northeastern netminder Brittany Bugalski. Less than four minutes and a Heather Mottau penalty later, Erin Connolly muscled a shot through traffic and into the back of the cage, propelling BC to a 2-1 lead—one it would hold for the rest of the game.
With the victory, the Eagles defended their Beanpot title for just the second time in program history. BC will get a chance to do it again this time around, only now it’ll be on its home ice. That’s assuming that the Eagles advance to the championship, of course. There are three other teams that are just as capable of pulling off an upset and leaving their mark on Kelley Rink—maybe not during the regular season, but during the Beanpot, when anything is possible. Here’s what to expect from this year’s field:
Aside from Northeastern, Harvard (9-12-2, 7-9-2 ECAC) is the only team to have won 10 or more Beanpot championships over the course of the tournament’s 40-year existence. That said, of late, the Crimson haven’t been putting up too many banners inside Bright Hockey Center. Interestingly enough, Harvard has only won two Beanpot titles this decade. The lone ECAC representative might have to wait another year to get back in the running.
So far this season, the Crimson have been anything but consistent. Since starting the 2017-18 campaign 3-0, Harvard has only strung together one win streak. What’s even worse is that four of its nine wins have come against two teams: Princeton and Dartmouth. Since the beginning of January, the Crimson have been on the decline, losing eight of their last 11 games. Out of all the Beanpot teams, Harvard has only played BC this year—and it hasn’t been pretty. In both matchups, the Eagles torched head coach Katey Stone’s team by a combined score of 14-3. BC’s scoring duo of Daryl Watts and Caitrin Lonergan made the most of the Crimson’s 27th-ranked defense. Offensively, though, Harvard isn’t too shabby. Streaky as any unit the country, Harvard has logged five or more goals on five separate occasions this season.
By far, Boston University men’s hockey has won the most Beanpot championships of the tournament’s four participants. Its women’s team, on the other hand, can’t say the same—in fact, its fortune is quite the opposite. The Terriers have reached the final a mere five times and have only brought the trophy home once in program history. That fateful day was 37 years ago. From then on, despite making six NCAA Tournament appearances and booking two trips to the Frozen Four, BU has had no luck in the Beanpot. It came close to turning the tables back in 2012 when it forced overtime in the championship game. Ultimately, though, Northeastern prevailed, 4-3, sending the Terriers home with yet another second-place finish.
Currently, BU (10-14-6, 6-11-5 Hockey East) is on pace to finish the year with a losing record for the first time in eight years. The Terriers have one of the best offenses in the nation, cracking the the top 10 in goals per contest. Thanks to Victoria Bach and Rebecca Leslie, BU joins BC and Clarkson as the only three teams to have multiple players rank inside the top 10 in scoring. The problem is, the Terriers’ defense doesn’t do the team any favors, allowing an average of 2.83 goals a game. Luckily for BU, it’s played some of its best hockey against the Beanpot’s top two teams: BC and Northeastern. Although it is a combined 0-4-2 against the conference’s best, it’s given them a run for their money, taking both the Huskies and Eagles to overtime this season.
Ever since Katie Crowley took over for former head coach Tom Mutch, the Eagles have owned the Beanpot. Over the past nine years, BC has been crowned champions on five separate occasions—three more than any other team in the field. Not only have the Eagles ended up on top on a regular basis, but they have typically done so in a dominant fashion, outscoring their opponents a combined 16-3 in those five title games. Not to mention that two out of the four years that BC has failed to win the Beanpot during Crowley’s tenure, the Eagles have still reached the championship game.
On paper, BC is all but a lock for the final. The No. 2 Eagles (24-2-3, 17-1-3 Hockey East) who have already clinched the Hockey East regular season title, are the only team in the competition with a winning record. What’s even crazier is that the Eagles have won at least 11 more games than each of the other schools participating. From top to bottom, BC’s roster is lined with talent, starting with Watts and Lonergan. The two lead the NCAA in scoring, both having eclipsed the 60-point mark before anyone else in the nation. A couple spots below the pairing lie Makenna Newkirk (seventh) and Toni Ann Miano (15th). But BC isn’t just an offensive juggernaut—it also has the country’s all-time winningest goaltender. In her four Beanpot Championship games, Katie Burt has conceded just four total goals.
It’s been five years since the Huskies last won the Beanpot, which seems like an eternity, considering that Northeastern took home 10 of the tournament’s first 13 championships. Each of the past two seasons, head coach Dave Flint’s team has been primed to end its title drought, surpassing the 20-win mark both years. But as soon as the Huskies got to the final, they choked. In 2016, Northeastern swallowed a 7-0 shutout to BC—one in which it allowed five goals in the final frame. Last year, the Huskies’ third-period collapse was even more gut-wrenching. No matter what happens, Northeastern won’t have to play the Eagles in the championship this time around—that meeting is reserved for Tuesday’s first round matchup.
If there’s any team that can beat BC, it’s the Huskies (13-13-3, 9-10-2 Hockey East). After all, they’ve already done it once this year. On Jan. 12, Northeastern rode a trio of goals in the third frame to a 4-2 upset, snapping the Eagles’ 12-game unbeaten streak—one that practically spanned two months. Then, one day later, the Huskies erased a 3-1 first-period deficit, scoring three goals in the ensuing frame. Unfortunately for Northeastern, Watts and Miano rescued BC, forcing overtime and notching the game-winner, respectively. The weekend series set up a dramatic Beanpot showdown and showcased just how potent the Huskies’ offense really is.
Featured Image by Delaney Vorwick / Heights Staff