Monday night I watched the very exciting 2011 Beanpot final on TV. Boston College defeated Northeastern in overtime by a score of 7-6. While the consolation game earlier that evening wasn’t televised, someone who was there told me that was a fantastic game as well, with Harvard beating Boston University 5-4.
The Beanpot has long been a signature event for college hockey in Boston. This was its 59th year and each tournament features the same four teams playing on the same two nights: the preliminary round is the first Monday in February with the final/consolation games on the second Monday. It is a true “event” that leaves the TD Garden packed and all the restaurants, bars and related establishments in the vicinity of Causeway Street packed with patrons.
During my weekly call-in to WCAP yesterday, I asked why Lowell can’t have a similar tournament. Three hockey teams would be natural participants: UMass Lowell, Merrimack and UNH. The fourth might be UMass Amherst, a natural rival for UML and a team representing an industrial region of New England, the Pioneer Valley. These four teams are already in the same conference (Hockey East) and they already play each other multiple times each season. I’m sure that altering schedules is a multi-year process, but you have to start sometime. Best of all, such an event might play right into City Manager Bernie Lynch’s vision for a reborn Winterfest.