It often has been joked that the Beanpot should be renamed the “Jack Parker Invitational’’ because of the number of times the veteran coach has led Boston University to the championship of the storied tournament.
The Terriers’ 3-1 victory over Harvard in the opening contest Monday night at TD Garden ensured them a spot in the title game for the 26th time in the last 29 years and the 16th time in the last 18 years. Parker, who has been BU’s coach since 1973, has won 21 Beanpot championships.
It will be BU’s 49th appearance in the final in the 60-year history of the tournament.
But Boston College will be gunning for its third straight crown and sixth under coach Jerry York.
Sure, there are some rolling their eyes at the matchup, given that the last time a team other than BU or BC won the Beanpot was 1993, when Harvard took it home.
Northeastern, on the wrong end of a 7-1 score Monday against the Eagles, has had an even longer drought. The Huskies last won the title in 1988 when Jim Madigan, their first-year coach, was an assistant.
Although Harvard made a game attempt at a comeback in the late going - something the Crimson know a great deal about this season - it fell short against a team whose goaltender, Kieran Millan, often has looked invincible.
As for Northeastern, the Huskies turned in about a half a period of what could be termed “not awful’’ before completely losing their way.
Madigan rescued junior goaltender Chris Rawlings from the mayhem after two periods and five goals to give him a break in preparation for Friday’s game at New Hampshire. Clay Witt played the third period and gave up two goals.
“Chris has been a rock for us all season long,’’ said Madigan. “And not playing well in front of him and down at that point, 5-1 . . .
“Clay has worked hard in practice. Give him an opportunity to get some [action] and save Chris for this Friday. Now that we’re in the consolation final, the focus continues to be Hockey East and a playoff spot. It just gives Chris a little bit of rest for Friday.’’
One of the most jarring aspects of the Huskies’ game was their inability to manage the puck. York graciously said it was attributable to ice conditions, but it was more due to poor puck management.
“They just beat us to pucks,’’ said Madigan. “We were sloppy in our own zone, we were sloppy in front, we were sloppy on the power play.’’
NU was riding a three-game winning streak, so Madigan felt his team was ready.
“We played Friday against UMass which was a big win for us in overtime,’’ said Madigan. “We had two good practices on Saturday and Sunday, and we came in and everyone was ready.
“There was a little bit of hunger in the guys and the returning players just because of what happened last year [an overtime loss to BC]. They [the Eagles] were ready to go from the goal right out and we laid an egg.’’
A day later, BC captain Tommy Cross still was savoring the victory.
“That was definitely a good win for us,’’ said Cross.
He felt his team executed better as the game went along.
“I think we just kind of settled in,’’ said Cross, whose team plays at Vermont Friday before turning its attention to the Beanpot championship. “The first period, I don’t think we were all going at the same time and at the same speed.
“I think, come the second period, we took the great effort we had in the first period and we put everyone on the same page and it definitely made a difference. I think it was just a slight adjustment.’’
BC feasted on turnovers, and Cross said that was a testament to the strength of the Eagles’ forwards.
“When you’ve got forwards like [Steve Whitney and Barry Almeida], some highly skilled forwards, if the other team puts them in a spot where they can make a play, chances are more times than not they can make a good play with it,’’ he said.
Two of BC’s goals were shorthanded, giving it 10 for the season, which is tied with Colgate for most in the nation. And junior goalie Parker Milner had a strong performance with 22 saves.
The netminding situation at The Heights has been much discussed, with York using three goaltenders this season, but Cross said the team has faith in all of them.
“We’re confident with whoever is in there,’’ he said. “Right now, it seems to be Parker and he’s playing really solid. Whether it’s him or someone else, we don’t really think twice about it.’’
As for BU and BC being in the final yet again, Cross said it never gets old for the archrivals - even if it does for others.
“It’s such a competitive tournament,’’ he said. “I think the guys on each team know that any of the four teams can win any given year.
“While it may seem BU and BC are in the final all the time, I don’t think it’s indicative of the parity among the teams.
“On a personal level, I definitely don’t get sick of playing BU ever. It’s a great rivalry, and every time we play them, it never loses its excitement.’’