Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Opinion - A Social Must

The Beanpot, if you haven't heard of it, is a hockey tournament featuring the four Boston area schools: Harvard, Boston University, Boston College, and Northeastern. If recent traditions hold, the loudest Harvard fans will be the folks wearing Eagles and Huskies jerseys arriving early for the 8pm game because Harvard is the lesser of two evils when it comes to a game featuring their conference rival BU, but also because not many student fans from Harvard bother to make the trip.

But it wasn't always this way. "Snooks" Kelley once called this "A social must. ... Four schools separated by the Charles River and the length and breadth of Commonwealth Avenue, regardless of records. Nobody wins who's supposed to win." Harvard fans filled the then-Boston Garden, now replaced by the TD Garden, just as much as any school. Now there's a small smattering of Crimson support, including the band, in Harvard's section in the upper seats - but not nearly the level of support the three Hockey East schools bring.

And that's a shame. Harvard hasn't won a Beanpot in a long time, dating back to 1993, it's true. (Though Northeastern's fans render that excuse, if you were wont to give it, moot. It's been since 1988 for the Huskies and their Dog Pound is there through it all.) That doesn't mean Harvard fans wouldn't have gotten their money's worth.

Take the 2008 Beanpot for example. The Crimson advanced past Northeastern in the opening round, only to fall just short in the Championship, a 6-5 OT loss to Boston College, who went on to win the NCAA tournament. Or the next year, when Harvard jumped out to a lead on a Boston University squad that had just been ranked #1 in the nation that morning. BU came back to take a 4-3 lead, but Harvard seemingly tied it at the dying moment on a point shot from Alex Biega that sent the Garden into a frenzy. Alas, while it was not to be, as the puck crossed the line moments too late, the game was a tremendous battle against the eventual national champions. Last year, Harvard's hot streak to close out the 2010-11 season began with a come from behind victory to upset BU 5-4 in the consolation round on Valentine's Day.

This year's game promises to be great as well. BU and Harvard already met once, and after a 3-1 Harvard lead, the Terriers came back to win 4-3 in OT at the Bright Center last week. Crimson fans fear not...one of the biggest sports cliches is that it's always harder to beat a team twice. In addition, this is the Beanpot's big 6-0 celebration. The first Beanpot, back in December of 1952, went to the Crimson, who defeated BC 3-2 in OT at Boston (now Matthews) Arena before defeating BU 7-4 to claim the first ever Beanpot championship. It'll be a time to reminisce about Harvard's Beanpot lore, like how Crimson legend Billy Cleary still holds the records for most goals in a period (4), game (5) and tournament (7). But it'll also be a chance to see this current Harvard squad as they skate with one of the top teams in the nation while gearing up for the final stretch of what's been a great ECAC season so far, and a chance to see the nation's top PP look to haunt the Terriers.

This has been a year for revived traditions among the Harvard student section. Chickens were thrown at Cornell (not that we condone that sort of thing here at WHRB) for the 1st time in decades. So let's see a large Harvard student section revive the tradition of making the Beanpot a game with a lot of Crimson in the stands. Let's see that same student spirit displayed at Harvard Stadium (or the Yale Bowl) cheering the Ivy League champion football team on to victory. Bring the "I Believe" and the "Winning Team/Losing Team" chants from the sold out Lavietes Pavilion that supports Harvard basketball every weekend. And combine that with the chants of "It's all your fault, SIEVE" that ring through the Bright Center during home games when students are on campus. The Beanpot can be "The Game," Harvard-Cornell hockey, and last year's Harvard-Princeton Ivy championship playoff all in one - if there's enough student support.

It's time to make this a social must again for students in Cambridge. Harvard students (seniors especially - it's your last chance) need to come out and support this team on the first two Mondays in February. Make sure there's a Crim-zone ready to face down those folks from Comm Ave. Let them know the Cantabs want to bring the Beanpot back to this side of the Charles.

Tickets are available at a discount for students in dining halls during lunch and at the Murr Center with your HUID.
Mon, Jan. 30 – Dunster House

Tues, Jan. 31 – Quincy House

Wed, Feb. 1 – Annenberg Hall

Thurs, Feb. 2 – Adams House

Fri, Feb. 3 – Leverett House

Game time on Mon. Feb. 6th is 5pm vs. BU. The final round takes place at either 4:30pm or 7:30pm. If you really can't make it, tune in on WHRB.

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