For most sports fans, especially in New England, Super Bowl Sunday is the most important event of the month. But for the fans who sit in Section 118 at Agganis Arena, better known to the Boston University community as the Dog Pound, the next night is equally earth-shattering.
The 56th annual Beanpot Tournament begins on Monday, February 4, with rivals Boston University and Boston College meeting in the first round. The game, played at TD Banknorth Garden, starts at 8 p.m., following the first-round matchup between Harvard and Northeastern at 5 p.m.
“There is always pressure on BU during the Beanpot, since our school has had the most success in the tournament,” says Jeff Winston (CAS’08), one of this year’s Dog Pound leaders. “BU has a reputation to keep up — we’re sometimes referred to as Beanpot University come early February — and I expect both the team and the fans to feel disappointed with anything less than a championship, year after year.”
The Beanpot, originally intended as a filler to keep the sports arenas open in the quiet weeks after Christmas, made its debut in 1952. But a half-century later, it’s the premier event of the Hub’s hockey season, assuring the winning team a year’s worth of citywide bragging rights. The final game sells out nearly every year, and odes have been written in praise of the tourney’s invigorating effect on the dreary month of February.
The Terriers have a long history of Beanpot victories, having won the title 28 times, compared to BC’s 13 wins, Harvard’s 10, and Northeastern’s 4. For the past two years, the team has faced (and defeated) the BC Eagles in the championship game. Meeting the Eagles in the first round of this year’s tournament has produced mixed emotions in fans.
“I see it in two different ways,” Winston says. “BU and BC tend to be the better two of the four teams entering the Beanpot, so it is discouraging to have the toughest matchup first, since there is the chance of losing to BC and having to play Harvard or Northeastern in the consolation game the next week — a game BU is not used to playing in. On the other hand, it is nice to get BC out of the way. When you beat BC in the first round, there’s an even greater feeling of confidence entering the championship the following Monday.”
Beanpot tickets can still be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 617-931-2000, at the TD Banknorth Garden box office, or online. Tickets are $28.50, $33.50, and $38.50. The game will be on NESN and on WWZN 1510 AM.