NCAA: Preview of the Beanpot Tournament

By DJ Powers





Sertich: Recruits boast skills to succeed









It is arguably the most well-known and fiercely fought
tournament every regular season in the NCAA. The 52nd Annual Beanpot Tournament kicks off on February 2nd and
concludes February 9th at the FleetCenter
in
Boston.
The annual tournament features four Boston-area teams:
Boston
College
,
Boston
University
,
Harvard and Northeastern. The “Beanpot” trophy is a
hard fought for trophy for bragging rights and team pride.

 

The first Beanpot Tournament took
place back in 1952. The first match was between the Boston University Terriers
and the Northeastern Huskies that took place on December 26th at Boston Arena.
The Terriers won 4-1. In the first championship game Harvard defeated
Boston
University

7-4, after defeating
Boston
College

3-2 in overtime in their opening game.
Boston
University

is the current reigning champions of this tournament and has won the most Beanpot titles (25).
Boston
College

has won it 12 times, Harvard has won it ten times and Northeastern has won it
four times.

 

The following is a look at each team and how they stack up
for 2004. This year’s Beanpot Tournament teams have a
combined 38 current NHL draft selections on their rosters with Boston
University having the most (13), followed by Harvard (12), Boston College (11)
and Northeastern (2). The tournament also features four players appearing on
the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s mid-season rankings: forward Adam Pineault
(
Boston
College
),
and defensemen Steve Birnstill
and Bryan Cirullo
(Northeastern) and Kevin Schaeffer
(
Boston
University
).

 

 

BOSTON COLLEGE:
After losing 3-2 to
Commonwealth
Avenue
rivals BU in last
year’s title game, the Eagles will be looking to exact some revenge should they
meet again in this year’s title game.
Boston
College

will open the tournament this year versus ECAC rival Harvard. The game will be
a rematch of the December 10th that saw the Eagles beat the Crimson
3-2. Last year, the Eagles defeated Northeastern in their opening game 5-2.
Boston
College

last won this tournament in 2001 when they defeated
Boston
University

5-3 in the title game.

 

Boston
College

is currently the second ranked team in the nation (first in Hockey East) and
are the perennial favorites going into this year’s tournament. The Eagles are
the lone tournament team with a record over .500, with an overall record of
19-3-3
(
12-1-2
in Hockey East play). Their most recent win came on Friday night in a 4-0
shutout of
Providence.
Sophomore Patrick Eaves (OTT)
notched two goals in the game and will be relied upon to help the Eagles win
the Beanpot as well. His brother and team captain Ben Eaves (PIT) is currently out of the
Eagles lineup with a knee injury. Along with senior Tony Voce, the trio has made up one of the best line combinations
in the nation this season, accounting for 71 of the Eagles’ 218 total points
(33 percent). The Eagles have gotten stellar goaltending by junior Matti Kaltiainen
(BOS) as well. His
17-3-3
record that includes two shutouts is among the best records in the nation.
Backup goaltender freshman Joe Pearce
(TB), who was outstanding in leading BC to win this year’s Great Lakes
Invitational Tournament back in December might see
some playing time as well. The Eagles have excellent scoring depth that feature
some talented NHL prospects among them, notably a pair of Los Angeles Kings draftees
in junior Ryan Murphy and towering
freshman Brian Boyle. Murphy has
currently has nine points (four goals, five assists), while Boyle has eight
(five goals, three assists). Junior Andrew
Alberts
(BOS) leads all Eagles defensemen in
scoring with 13 points (three goals, ten assists). After having twice been
suspended from the team due to academic reasons (most recently about a week and
half ago), senior J. D. Forrest
(CAR) is back with the team. His leadership has been invaluable to the team.
The other NHL drafted prospects to watch are defenseman John Adams (BUF), and forwards Justin
Dziama
(NJ) and Ned Havern (DAL). All eyes will also be
on 2004 draft eligible forward Adam Pineault. Pineault, a
talented and physical player has had an excellent season thus far, posting
seven points (four goals, three assists) playing in 22 games this season.

 

Boston
College

enjoyed its greatest Beanpot successes in the decades
of the 1950s and 1960s where they won the tournament four times in each decade.
The Eagles will be looking to capture their second Beanpot
title in the new millennium this year.

 

 

BOSTON UNIVERSITY:
The reigning Beanpot champions have had a very trying
season thus far. They currently sit seventh in the Hockey East standings with
an overall record of
7-10-6
(
4-9-2
in Hockey East play). One problem that has plagued the Terriers this season is
consistent offense, particularly from their forwards. Defenseman Ryan Whitney (PIT) currently leads all
BU players in scoring with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists). Four of BU’s
current top ten scorers (as well as those in double digits in points) are
defensemen. In addition to Whitney, they are NHL draft eligible freshman Kevin Schaeffer [12 points], junior Bryan Miller [12 points] and sophomore Dan Spang
(SJ) [11 points]. Currently, no BU player has ten or more goals. Seniors Kenny Magowan
(NJ) and Mark Mullen as well as
sophomore David Van der
Gulik
(CGY) are the only BU players who have more
than five goals coming into the Beanpot Tournament.
The Terriers are coming off a 2-1 loss to UMass-Lowell
on Friday night. In the prior weekend series versus
Maine,
the Terriers surrendered eight goals to the Black Bears in the Friday night
tilt. The performance of senior Sean
Fields
who was last year’s Beanpot MVP and was
the recipient of the Eberly Trophy (awarded to the
top goaltender in the tournament) will be the key to the Terriers success in
the Beanpot this year. Fields had one of his best
performances of the season thus far in the 1-0 shutout win over No. 3 Maine on
January 24th in a game that saw a combined 268 team penalty minutes
and 11 player ejections.

 

Despite the lack of scoring, BU has gotten some excellent
play by their NHL prospects in sophomore John
Laliberte
(VAN), freshman defensemen Sean Sullivan (PHX) and Thomas Morrow (BUF), freshman Kenny Roche (NYR), junior David Klema
(PHX) and senior Frantisek Skladany (COL). Sophomore defenseman Jekabs Redlihs (CBJ) finally made
his long-awaited season debut in early January in the entertaining weekend
series versus reigning national champion Minnesota Golden Gophers. Redlihs had missed nearly the entire first half of the
season due to a broken collarbone that he sustained in practice prior to the
game versus
Vermont
on October 18th. BU will look to getting back into the win column
when they faceoff against Northeastern in their
opening match. The game will be a rematch of the January 9th game
where the Terriers beat the Huskies 4-3 in overtime.

 

BU reigned supreme in the 1990’s Beanpot
Tournaments where they thoroughly dominated the decade having won the
tournament every year in the 1990’s except 1993 and 1994, where
Boston
College

and Harvard won it respectively.

 

 

HARVARD UNIVERSITY:
The lone non-Hockey East team comes into this year’s Beanpot
looking for their first tournament championship in a decade. The last time the
Crimson won the Beanpot Tournament was back in 1993
when they defeated
Boston
University

4-2 in the title game.

 

Harvard’s season thus far has been an inconsistent one. The
Crimson is coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to ECAC rival Brown on Saturday.
Harvard had their best month of the season thus far in November, where they
went
4-3-2
and won consecutive games versus Yale,
Boston
University

and St. Lawrence. Since November, the Crimson has gone
4-7-1.
Junior Tom Cavanagh
(SJ) currently leads Harvard in scoring with 20 points (eight goals, 12
assists). Senior Tyler Kolarik (CBJ) leads the Crimson in assists with 14. The
line combination of Cavanagh, Kolarik
and senior Tim Pettit have proven to
be the most successful for Harvard this season, despite not playing together
the entire season. The trio accounts for 57 of 142 of Harvard’s total points
(40 percent). Not surprisingly, the trio also makes up the top three scorers
for Harvard. Goaltending has also played a crucial role in the success for
Harvard. Junior Dov Grumet-Morris
(PHI) has struggled somewhat this season as the Crimson’s top goaltender after
a stellar sophomore season. He currently sports a
4-7-1 record that includes
one shutout. Despite a below .500 win/loss record, Grumet-Morris
has excellent goals against average (2.09) and save percentage (.918) numbers.
He had his best performance of the season thus far on November 28th,
where he made 26 saves in a 3-0 shutout win over conference rival St. Lawrence.
In addition to the play of Grumet-Morris, Harvard has
had some excellent efforts by their talent-laden defensive corps led by junior Noah Welch (PIT) and team captain
senior Kenny Smith (EDM). The
Crimson also have a great skating supporting cast upfront that include seniors Dennis Packard (TB) and Rob Fried (FLA), as well as the
exciting freshmen line combination of Ryan
Maki
, Kevin Du
and Steve Mandes.

 

Harvard will meet Boston
College

in one of the two opening matches of the Beanpot on
Monday. Harvard last faced the Eagles earlier in the season back on December 10th
at Chestnut Hill, where they lost 3-2 that saw some stellar goaltending by Grumet-Morris in addition to some outstanding offensive
play by junior Brendan Bernakevitch.

 

 

NORTHEASTERN
UNIVERSITY:
The Huskies have become one of Hockey
East’s hottest teams of late, after having a dismal start to their 2003-04 season. After starting the season with a 0-9-2 record,
Northeastern has gone
7-3-1
since. The Huskies are coming off of a 4-2 loss to UMass
on Thursday.

 

Northeastern comes into the Beanpot
looking for their first tournament win since 1988. No team dominated the Beanpot Tournament in the 1980’s the way Northeastern did.
The Huskies won all four of their Beanpot titles thus
far in the 1980’s. In addition to 1988, they also won it 1980, 1984 and 1985.

 

The Huskies will meet defending Beanpot
Tournament champions Boston University Terriers in their opening match on
Monday. The match will be the second time in less than a month that
Northeastern and
Boston
University

have met. On January 9th the two teams met at Walter Brown Arena
with the home team handing the Huskies a 4-3 loss in overtime. Junior Jason Guerrero currently leads
Northeastern in scoring with 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists). His 14 assists
tie him with sophomore Mike Morris
(SJ) for the team’s lead in that category. Guerrero led the Huskies to their
second ever championship of the RPI/HSBC Holiday Tournament back on December 29th
defeating Mercyhurst 7-5 in the title game. He earned
tournament MVP honors after posting seven points (three goals, four assists) in
the two-day tournament. Morris has been another integral part of the Huskies
offense this season. He was instrumental in helping Northeastern to their win over
Colgate in the opening round of the RPI/HSBC Tournament back on December 28th,
when he notched three points (one goal, two assists) in the Huskies 6-4 win.

 

Goaltending will be key to Northeastern’s continued success. Junior Keni Gibson has been the team’s workhorse
this season. He has played in 21 of Northeastern’s 23
games this season and has posted a
7-10-4 record that includes
three shutouts. Gibson’s best performance of the season thus far came in Northeastern’s stunning upset of second ranked Boston
College, where he made 34 saves to get the shutout win over the visiting Eagles
at Matthews Arena on January 3rd.

 

Another area where the Huskies are going to be looking to
for support is their defense. Junior Jon
Awe
, who is having an outstanding year for Northeastern, leads all Huskies
defensemen in scoring with 11 points (two goals and nine assists). The Huskies
freshman class will definitely be well-worth watching too. Forward Yale Lewis leads all Northeastern
rookies in scoring with 12 points (three goals, nine assists). NHL draft
watchers will want to keep an eye on two up and coming Huskies freshman blueliners in Steve Birnstill and Bryan
Cirullo
. Both are NHL draft eligible this summer.