By: Dan Shulman
With a thrilling overtime victory in the 2015 final, the Boston University Terriers captured their 30th Beanpot title.
The winning goal was scored on the power play, and drawing the penalty with an explosive rush to the net was none other than freshman phenom Jack Eichel.
The North Chelmsford, Massachusetts native captured a lot of hardware in his lone season at BU, but for Eichel, no trophy was more special than the Beanpot.
“Winning the Beanpot, it’s a community-wide tournament,” said Eichel. “Anyone that’s ever been associated with BU really cherishes a Beanpot win and when you were able to celebrate it with the group of guys, there’s no better feeling than that.”
Growing up down the road from Boston, Eichel’s decision for where to play his college hockey came down to two schools just a few miles down the street from each other.
“For me, it was always Boston College or Boston University,” said Eichel. “After visiting the schools and going through that whole recruitment process, BU just felt like a better fit to me. I just loved the campus feel. It was one of the better decisions in my life and I loved being a part of BU for a year and I think I’ll always be part of the community.”
In just one season with the Terriers, Eichel recorded an astounding 71 points as a freshman, setting a new BU record. But for Eichel, team accomplishments were more important than individual ones.
“Obviously I played with really good linemates,” said Eichel. “Danny [O’Regan] and Evan [Rodrigues] both had really good years and we had a lot of really good players on that team. I wasn’t the only guy that had a huge year. Usually after team success you have individual success and I think that was the case last year.”
In February of his freshman campaign, Eichel took the ice at TD Garden to participate in his first and only Beanpot.
“It was huge to be able to play in the Beanpot and win it in the year I was there and with the group of guys we won it with,” said Eichel. “It’s something I grew up watching and coming to, and something I dreamed of doing. It was special for me.”
The feeling of playing at the TD Garden in February is special for every player who has ever had the privilege of playing in the Beanpot. One of Eichel’s teammates, Brian Gionta, played in four Beanpots as a member of the Boston College hockey team, winning the tournament in his senior season.
“It was pretty cool,” said Gionta. “You wait a long time and you finally come through and get one. It was pretty special.
“It was one of the best times of the year for sure. Looking forward to those first two Mondays in February, you always got excited for them.”
Gionta was also excited to see a BC/BU final this season, and is currently enjoying a mini-rivalry with his Terrier teammate.
“It’s one of the best rivalries going,” said Gionta. “I think still today it’s pretty special. I’ll be giving a little something to Jack [Eichel] when tomorrow comes around and Monday comes around. I’m sure there will be a little more trash talk.”
Another fellow BC Eagle, Jimmy Hayes of the Boston Bruins, is also looking forward to seeing the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue in the Beanpot Final.
“It’s always fun when you see a BC vs. BU final,” said Hayes. “They’re two great programs with a lot of success. It’s kind of fun to see that matchup coming on Monday night.”
Hayes was also able to claim the coveted Beanpot in his time at BC, and as a Dorchester, Massachusetts native, playing in the tournament was something he cherished.
“It was so much fun,” said Hayes. “It was the biggest game of the year other than trying to play for a national championship game. It always a game you looked forward to and had circled on the calendar. It was a very special moment for me to play in it.”
If there’s any doubt as to whether BC and BU hockey alums will be paying attention to the Beanpot Final, just ask Jack Eichel.
“I’ll be watching it. Pregame, postgame show, everything of course.”
Puck drop between BC and BU on Monday is scheduled for approximately 7:30 p.m.