23 Years in the Making

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Crimson wins the Beanpot!

By CAROLINE CRONIN & KELSEY O’CONNOR

On Monday night, February 13, Harvard students packed section 324 of TD Garden to cheer the Men’s Hockey Team to a Beanpot victory 23 years in the making. After last week’s decided victory of the Men’s Varsity Hockey team over Northeastern, anticipation for the final game of the four-team Beanpot tournament had grown. By Monday evening, students and fans alike were ready to pack themselves into cold T cars and make the Red Line-Green Line jump just to get to the legendary venue. The matchup promised to be a good one: Harvard versus Boston University.

The 6-3 triumph of the Crimson over the BU Terriers, is Harvard’s first Beanpot win since 1993 and their first trip to finals since 2008 (for those of us to whom that still feels recent, it was nine years ago). Adam Gilfix ’17, statistician and senior member of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, marvels, “That fact alone is pretty remarkable, especially considering that it is only a four-team tournament and either BU or BC has won every Beanpot since 1993.” The honor and glory of such a title is inherently tied to Boston’s long and proud history of sports fans and a love of hockey. Gilfix adds, “Moreover, yesterday morning the new United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) rankings came out and Harvard jumped from 7th to 3rd in the country, dropping BU from 3rd to 4th.  Thus, yesterday’s win proved the rankings were justified in having the Crimson ahead of the crosstown Terriers and solidified Harvard Hockey as a powerhouse in NCAA competition.”

Up in the student section, Crimson fans from Freshmen to Seniors, grad students, alumni and parents watched eagerly for the Crimson to pull through. They were amazed by the tricky goals the team pulled off, the amazing saves by Merrick Madsen, and the impressive speed of all on the ice. Many fans sported the “Harvard Hockey” t-shirts that team members had sold with tickets in dining halls throughout the week. While there was one pair of fans who seemed more interested in screaming at their fellow spectators than cheering on the team, all students were in great spirits and bringing up the energy with chants of “let’s go Harvard” and the classic “I believe” chant. The trash talk was kept to a minimum in the Crimson stands with a couple, fairly clever, renditions of “Sucks to BU” and “You can’t do that” in response to penalties, sometimes two penalties at a time, by the Terriers.

One of the most fun moments for fans came with less than two minutes left in the game. Down 5-3, BU replaced their goalie with a sixth man on the ice. While a common tactic, it turned out to be an unfortunate one for BU. As Harvard students stood in anticipation and hope for a W, the puck was suddenly coasting toward them and the empty BU goal from down the ice. The sound and excitement reached a high as it sailed over the crease and the flashing red goal lights illuminated. The score was then 6-3 and Harvard had sealed the deal. A moment later Crimson fans started to sing the famed Bananarama song, “Na na na na hey hey-ey, goodbye.” The BU goalie slowly regained his post from the bench as the Crimson celebrated and prepared for the puck drop.

As the Beanpot banner lowered from the rafters of the legendary TD Garden and the Harvard banner reading “Beanpot Champions 2017” was raised among the championship banners of the Bruins and Celtics, Harvard fans cheered as they began to file out. The ever-competitive Harvard students raced back to campus to see whose route from TD Garden would be more efficient. Conclusion: they were essentially the same. But smiling faces in Harvard hats greeted each other and celebrated as they made their way back across the river to the Square and their p-sets. Paths crossed with entryway mates, freshmen year roommates, other college students roaming the T.

Now the Crimson and their supporters only look forward with the confidence this win has granted them. Gilfix is sure, “I believe this win could propel Harvard toward a Frozen Four appearance and perhaps an NCAA Championship.” But the puck doesn’t stop there. The talented players of the team see long professional careers ahead of them as well. There are currently eight players on the Crimson’s roster who have been drafted in the National Hockey League (NHL), but choose to keep playing for their college team – a move the school and students all applaud. “Moy, Kerfoot, and Malone are all Seniors who have been drafted and seem to be living up to that potential.  Perhaps some other graduating seniors can fulfill similar NHL aspirations as the team dominates strong opponents and showcases impressive skill.” They certainly have models like Jimmy Vesey ’16 to look up to; Monday night provided another exciting moment when Harvard Hockey when Vesey scored a game-winning goal for the New York Rangers, his fourth of the season.

This weekend the team takes to the road for two Ivy League matchups against Yale and Brown – and with them, the confidence of success.

Caroline Cronin and Kelsey O’Connor (sports@harvardindependent.com) congratulate the men of Harvard Hockey!