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Hopes for a Beanpot four-peat are on hold

Northeastern University battles Boston University in the 2019 Beanpot semifinal held at the TD Garden in Boston. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The news that the 2021 Beanpot has been canceled was particularly disappointing to the Northeastern Huskies. In an epic transformation, they had won the last three Beanpots following a 30-year drought.

“It’s especially disappointing for our seniors,” says coach Jim Madigan, the designer of the Huskies’ resurgence. “They were the first Northeastern class ever to win three in a row, and they were looking forward to the chance to be the only class ever to win four in a row.”

The cancellation of the 69th Beanpot was announced Monday by its annual host, TD Garden. Madigan said his players anticipated this outcome last week when the Ivy League terminated its 2020-21 winter sports schedule—signalling that Harvard would be unable to participate in the four-team Beanpot. 

TD Garden is planning to resume the Beanpot in 2022 on the first two Mondays of February, per tradition. 

“I respect and understand the decision by the Beanpot, and I understand and respect the decision at Harvard,” Madigan says. “Every institution is going to make decisions that are in the best interests of their student body, faculty, staff, and administration. That’s what Harvard did, and you certainly understand it, because of the increases of the COVID rates [recently in Massachusetts].

“Here at Northeastern, we’ve created our own bubble of safety around our campus that is the gold standard. It allows us to continue moving forward and playing, as long as we continue to adhere to the proper social distancing and protocols.”

Madigan has been involved in six of Northeastern’s seven Beanpot titles, including two as a player in 1984 and ‘85, and another as an assistant coach in 1988. Since he became head coach in 2011, he reshaped the Huskies into Boston’s dominant hockey program with Beanpot victories in 2018, 2019, and last season, when they beat Boston University 5-4 in double-overtime.

Northeastern also won the Women’s Beanpot last season, providing the Huskies with a rare sweep. (Plans for the 2021 Women’s Beanpot have yet to be announced.)

“When you’re living in the Boston area, or you’re affiliated with one of the four Beanpot schools, you understand the magnitude of this event,” Madigan says. “It’s part of the fabric of the city of Boston, like the Boston Marathon, or the Boston Pops playing on the Esplanade for July 4. It’s only a four-team tournament, but the significance of winning it carries on for a lifetime.”

Madigan described his players as disappointed but not discouraged. Since Sept. 19, the Huskies (18-13-3 last season) have trained on the ice in anticipation of this season’s abbreviated 26-game schedule, which opens Nov. 27 at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

“Our players are resilient,” Madigan says. “They’ve shown their appreciation of just being around each other for every day of practice. They’re embracing every minute of it. And now they’re looking forward to playing games, because that opportunity is on the horizon.”

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