Winning a Beanpot championship isn’t easy. Earning four in a row? That has proven to be extremely rare. It has been achieved only twice, the latest by Boston University when the Terriers actually won six straight beginning in 1995. The other time was also by BU, from 1970-73.
Boston College has a chance to reach that milestone Monday night when the Eagles take on Northeastern in the 61st tournament final at TD Garden. BU will play Harvard in the consolation game.
Last year marked the second time the Eagles won the Beanpot crown three consecutive times; the other was from 1963 through 1965.
The BC seniors are used to success. They are 7-0 in Beanpot play, they have won two Hockey East regular-season titles, three Hockey East championships, and two NCAA crowns.
BC’s program is one of high expectations and the seniors say they recognized that the minute they set foot on campus their first year.
“I think we learned from a great class,’’ said captain Pat Mullane. “As a freshman, you come in and you’re very starry-eyed and looking to someone for wisdom, someone to look up to. Having Matt Price, Matt Lombardi, and Ben Smith as our captains, I couldn’t pick three better guys to lead a freshman class.
“I quickly learned there was a way you do things at BC and part of that is winning hockey games and winning titles and representing the school.’’
Heading into Monday night, BC’s seniors have a record of 108-35-7. Their ultimate goal is another NCAA title and a Beanpot win would be a springboard to the stretch run with the desire to achieve something no other BC class has accomplished.
“There’s never been a BC class with three national championships,’’ said Mullane. “It’s in our DNA to want to do that, to want to be the class that has that.
“I also think everyone on the team emphasizes getting the freshmen a national championship. When you come to BC, [the goal is] you’re going to leave with a diploma in one hand and a ring in the other.’’
One environment that has favored the Eagles is the big stage. Because of their triumphs in the NCAA Tournament and the Beanpot, they are not rattled to play in front of a large crowd in an expansive venue.
“I think we are fortunate we have played on the big stage so we understand,’’ said Mullane. “The freshmen come in and they’re the only guys on our team who haven’t experienced it. Other teams may have seniors and juniors who haven’t experienced the big stage, so there is no one to bring the freshmen back in because the seniors are as starry-eyed as the freshmen. Because we are able to bring our freshmen back to earth, we say, ‘Enjoy it, but at the same time, you have to go out there and play hockey. You can’t get overwhelmed by the pressure.’ ”
Senior defenseman Patrick Wey said one of the reasons his class has been so effective is because they were able to absorb the leadership skills to which they have been exposed throughout their careers and share that with those who followed them into the program.
“I think there is a great tradition of that,’’ said Wey. “We’ve had some really great captains who have passed down a way of doing things that definitely helps bring us success, so there’s a passing of the torch that way within our program. We’ve been fortunate to have some really special people come before us.’’
There is no room for complacency in the BC dressing room. No matter how much they win, they aren’t satisfied and remain hungry for the next tournament title.
“It’s not too hard when you realize how special it is when you finally reach the top of the mountain,’’ said Wey. “It’s not too hard to get up to do it again because you know how it feels. If anything, it might make it a little more easier than you expect.’’
The Eagles also don’t believe in getting ahead of themselves, so for now, their only focus is adding Beanpot Title No. 4 to their résumé.
“It would be incredible,’’ said Wey. “I know it’s something that hasn’t been done very often. Just to be able to do that with my classmates and share that with them would be more than worth the effort it would take to pull it off. I’m really excited for the opportunity and I know all the guys are going to be pulling to try to make that happen.’’
Wey, who is from Pittsburgh, said he didn’t always have an appreciation for how meaningful the Beanpot is in Boston. But he learned quickly.
“I didn’t grow up around here, so I definitely didn’t have a good grasp of how cool this tournament is and what a big deal it is in [the Boston area],’’ he said. “It wasn’t real to me until I saw the crowds. It was crazy. To have so much success in this tournament leading up to this is pretty cool. Hopefully, we’ll be able to come out on top.’’
Senior right wing Steven Whitney, who leads the team in goals with 17, said coach Jerry York is one of the keys to why the Eagles have amassed so much success.
“It starts with Coach York,’’ said Whitney. “He’s obviously an unbelievable leader and he instills in us what he expects, which is hard work and discipline and things like that, and the upperclassmen pass it along, definitely.’’
Whitney said his class got the ultimate taste its freshman year when the Eagles captured the NCAA championship.
“We knew what it felt like to win and how special and fun it was,’’ said Whitney. “Once you do that, you want to just keep getting them and you want to feel like that again. So that’s where my motivation is coming from, just wanting to get back there.’’
Whitney, who is from Reading, said finishing his career undefeated in the Beanpot would be especially meaningful for a Boston-area kid.
“It would be awesome,’’ said Whitney. “I grew up watching it and dreamed about winning it and just playing in it. I never dreamed I could win four in a row.’’
The Eagles expect a knock-down, drag-out battle with Northeastern.
“They showed they can play,’’ said Whitney. “They beat BU, they beat us [Oct. 13], and they have a lot of great players on their team. They bring a lot of students to the Garden, and we do as well. It’s going to be an exciting game.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.