Maybe it was a good thing that the Huskies didn’t win the Beanpot Monday night. I would pity the Northeastern University police. Huntington Avenue up in flames, cars turned over, the husky mascot running wild in the streets howling at the moon.
Maybe the world just isn’t ready for the words “Your 2011 Beanpot Champions, the Northeastern Huskies…” to be a statement of fact just yet. Harvard beating BU in the consolation game was enough shock treatment for one year.
In what was the most no holds barred, all the chips in the middle Beanpot final in recent memory, Northeastern fell in overtime to the Boston College Eagles 7-6 Monday night. Northeastern goalie Chris Rawlings lay on his back looking at the banners hung from the ceiling as Chris Kreider and company threw their gloves in the air and did what they do best.
It will impose a scar on their hearts that will never fully heal nor any valentine could ever match. This will be the one that got away.
“I think this one stings a lot. A couple years ago against BU we were down by a few goals and we didn’t really deserve to win. But tonight I thought we battled hard and we came to play,” said Northeastern’s Wade MacLeod reflecting on the loss, his face scrunched up. “We just couldn’t finish it off.”
I would be lying if I said during the intermission before overtime I wasn’t writing a list of Northeastern themed headlines “The Dog Days Are Over”, “Huskies Are Top Dogs”, “Northeastern Lets The Dogs Out”.
I should have known better.
As much as I believe that any team can beat any other on any given day, this was the Beanpot. There has never been a Northeastern or Harvard Beanpot championship celebration filmed in HD, and it’s because unfortunately for the stepchildren of the Boston college hockey scene, BU and BC are the best and more often then not they win when it counts.
“What bothers me the most about this tournament is that everybody says, ‘Well, why can’t Northeastern win it?’ ’’ Northeastern coach Greg Cronin explained. “Can’t they just get lightning in a bottle once? A blind squirrel gets a nut every once in a while, how can it not happen?’ At that time, it was 10 or 12 years since they won it. But now I’m in it. I’m in the fabric of the tournament and BC and BU are good. They are good every year. They restock with great players.’’
“My analogy is, they restock their deck with kings and aces, every year,’’ Cronin continued. “The rest of us have to scrounge around to get a jack or a queen and keep them long enough that they can someday wrestle with the kings and the aces.”
As awful as a coach comparing his players to a bad Texas hold’em hand sounds, it’s the truth, and it takes a lot to admit that. The Eagles and Terries keep on winning and keep on bringing in the best talent that college hockey attracts. There is no draft or salary cap to make sure teams are given their fair shake. The pool is much smaller than college football or basketball. Chances are if you are a legitimate top prospect for college hockey, BC or BU has come across your mind.
I could explain how there is always next year, and Northeastern is always getting better. They have been doing nothing but improving this season and can surely take this game as an example of what they are capable of. But that would defeat the purpose of this argument. Northeastern has been the little brother in Boston for a while now and they don’t want us to pity them, rubbing their backs and saying “its okay…” when they get noogie after noogie from their older brothers.
Being in a position to beat Boston College or Boston University in the Beanpot Championship is like a lunar eclipse. Actually beating them would require that you hit a dime out of mid air with a bow and arrow on the night of that lunar eclipse.
Monday night, the Huskies’ arrow just missed.