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Former players, grads and fans pack TD Garden for historic Northeastern Women’s Beanpot championship

Northeastern former players and graduates celebrate Huskies’ appearance in the first Women’s Beanpot championship held at TD Garden.

More than 10,000 people packed TD Garden to see Northeastern win the first Women’s Beanpot Championship held at the NHL venue. Tuesday night. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Northeastern hockey legend Shelley Looney has played in college and international hockey games around the world but says the historic magnitude of the Women’s Beanpot championship being played at TD Garden in Boston for the first time Tuesday night cannot be overstated.

“These girls deserve it. They’ve earned to be on this stage and it shows where women’s hockey is going,” said Looney, who was inducted into the Women’s Beanpot Hall of Fame during intermission at the game Tuesday night. “The best thing is to see all these people here tonight to support Northeastern and women’s hockey.”

Defending Beanpot champion Northeastern defeated Boston University, 2-1, in the Women’s Beanpot title game before a crowd of 10,633. For the first time in the 45-year history of the Women’s Beanpot the championship was held in TD Garden, and Northeastern was the first women’s team to hoist the trophy in the same arena where the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics play. 

Students, graduates, former players, youth teams and hockey fans packed the TD Garden for the historic event.

Jessica Maruca, a Northeastern graduate from Weymouth who was attending the game with seven girls from Weymouth Youth Hockey, said the young fans asked if they could attend the game. 

“They were so excited. They realize the historic moment,” Maruca said. “They watched both the men’s and women’s games last year and wanted to know why the women weren’t at TD Garden like the men.”

Molly Maruca, Jessica’s 11-year-old daughter, was jumping out of her seat in anticipation of the puck drop. 

“This is amazing. They deserve it. I love it,” said Molly, who plays defense. “I hope to be playing here someday.”

Tina Cardinale-Beauchemin, who played for Northeastern from 1984-’88 — winning Beanpot championships in all four years — and currently coaches Algonquin High School girl hockey team, said she would like to think all the previous women’s players paved the way for the historic event. 

“The growth of women’s hockey is amazing. It’s so nice that they have women’s teams to look up to,” Cardinale-Beauchemin said. 

Jessica Wagner, who won two Beanpots and a Beanpot MVP in 1996, agreed. “This is such a huge event. We were always saying, ‘Why can’t we play in the Garden. But it has all come together now.”

The Huskies grabbed their 19th Beanpot championship Tuesday, and the first ever held in TD Garden. Last year, Northeastern women won the Beanpot in front of 1,346 at Boston College. 

“It’s great to see this historic moment. I’m so excited for this team,” said Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun. “They won it last year and it’s wonderful to see the team back in the championship game in this arena.”

There were many former Northeastern players in the venue for the big event.

Kelly Dyer Hayes, a goalie who won four Beanpot championships while playing for Northeastern, said playing the Women’s Beanpot at TD Garden puts the event on par with the Head of the Charles Regatta and Boston Marathon.

“The women’s game is going to the larger stage of hockey. It’s a whole new level of excitement,” Hayes said.

“They know they have a broader reach. The Beanpot elevates the level of play. Now, at the TD Garden, you feel it, especially if it’s full. You can feel the energy,” Hayes said. 

Northeastern’s Skylar Irving, who scored both Husky goals, was named tournament MVP. Reigning national goalie of the year Gwyneth Philips won best goaltender in the Beanpot.

“I really think that these players are built for this. They play such a high caliber brand of hockey and people should get to see this,” said Linda Lundrigan, who played for Northeastern from 1984-’88. “It’s a big deal from the perspective: it’s overdue.”

Former Northeastern women’s hockey coach Don MacLeod, who won eight consecutive Beanpot championships during his 11-year tenure from 1982-’93, said he was so happy to see women playing on the same sheet of ice as the Boston Bruins.

“I love this. It’s such a privilege to play here,” MacLeod said. “The guys have been playing here for years. The women are highly skilled players.

Band members, who kept Northeastern fans charged up throughout the game, said they were also excited to see the historic game.

“It’s a long time coming. I’m so happy it’s finally happening. And I’m glad to be here,” said tenor saxophone player Zack Terlik.

Mark Conti is managing editor of Northeastern Global News. Follow him on X/Twitter @markconti11.