Column: The Beanpot’s best story plays out on Huntingon Ave

Column: The Beanpot’s best story plays out on Huntingon Ave

Upon arriving at Northeastern as wide-eyed freshmen, we learn a series of inalienable facts.

The bars close at 2 a.m., but the T stops at 12:50 a.m. Waiting in line at either Stetson East or West is about as worthwhile as watching a current episode of Saturday Night Live. Many people frequently jump on and off the Red Sox bandwagon. And the list goes on.

If your freshman mind wasn’t overwhelmed enough at this point, word also got around of another hard truth.

The members of the Northeastern men’s hockey team couldn’t win the Beanpot if their lives depended on it.

It’s established, you see.

Boston University students see Beanpot victories as an accepted fact of life. Every year, it’s BU vs. “the other three.” The formula is simple. They win Beanpots. Others just try.

Boston College students see it as a challenge, but also a realistic possibility. With national championship-contending teams more frequent in Chestnut Hill over the past years, the Eagles have had a good dosage of Beanpot satisfaction, having overtaken BU twice since 2001.

Harvard University students wouldn’t know if their team won.

Over on oft-ignored Huntington Avenue we’re left to speculate, wonder and dream what it would be like to hold that prized trophy.

Northeastern is the anti-establishment team. Problem is, the Huskies haven’t broken any establishments since the 1987-88 season (the last year of the Bruce Racine-led dynasty).

It’s beyond reasonable. Years go by, all-time greats come through (here’s looking at you Dan McGillis, Jim Fahey, Jason Guerriero and Keni Gibson), overtime victories end in shattering fashion and BU and BC players smile through sweat-soaked mops of hair while red and white or maroon and gold throngs of fans exalt in celebration.

The only saving grace of this? Pondering the mystery of what a Beanpot victory and celebration would be like. It’s Northeastern’s Curse of the Bambino. It’s the monkey that won’t get off our back. When and if the day ever comes that the Huskies bring the trophy back to Northeastern, the celebration will be that much sweeter. Sounds like something that happened over on Yawkey Way in October 2004, right?

So, really, how would a Beanpot title victory change things around here? I’m living an imaginary championship in my mind right now. It’s the only kind I’ve ever known.

In my imagination Northeastern men’s hockey has finally garnered the attention and respect it has long deserved from the media and the non-Northeastern community.

The trio of head coach Greg Cronin, forward Mike Morris and defenseman Steve Birnstill is the Hockey East’s best storyline and fitting starpower for the prestigious tournament victory. Cronin, as the fiery and candid program rejuvenator; Morris, as the first-round NHL draft pick who got the trophy in his final year and Birnstill as the congenial, steady defenseman who earned his due.

Morris and Birnstill are also fitting links to recent misfortune in the Beanpot. They are suitable leaders to remind the Husky community how close the program has come and fallen – and just how prized this championship is.

Huntington Avenue is awash in expected surprise but also in atypical athletic liveliness and concentration. There are always Northeastern sports fans, but usually there aren’t enough. At last, for one Monday, one week and one season, the Beanpot victory ensures an unbridled interest and passion for a Husky athletic program.

A reminder has been sent to BU, BC and Harvard that Northeastern is no longer the team that couldn’t get past its Beanpot drought. And how about this sentence? Northeastern will enter the 2007-08 season as defending Beanpot champions.

There is also the acquisition of long-needed and long-deserved bragging rights over the city of Boston. BC fans are waved aside, scoffed at for their on-again, off-again hockey interest. Harvard fans are reminded where the best local college hockey talent exists (Hockey East).

BU fans? Well, that’s a much longer and better story.

At long last, those who reside on Commonwealth Avenue have absolutely nothing to say. That still, almost unnatural silence you hear in the TD Banknorth Garden? It is the once-deafening roar of the Terrier faithful, now unable to do anything but listen to the shouting cheers of Northeastern fans adorned in red and black.

When BU beats BC, it’s special. BU vs. BC is a time-honored New England tradition, and it brings out the best in both programs. But when BU beats NU, it seems extra-special for the Terriers. BU often uses Northeastern as the butt of its jokes, fully confident that the pesky Huskies pose no threat.

But at long last, the “expected” team didn’t win.

At long last, the early-February hockey fiesta for the Terriers is nothing but quiet and lackluster. Their favorite tradition and most beloved trophy is celebrated in a different location.

And not a single second of our much-deserved celebration is wasted. We know where we’ve come from, and we know what we’ve earned.

For one Monday, at least, the show is ours and ours alone.

– Jeff Powalisz can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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