February 13, 2018 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Boston's Best

Northeastern Wins 1st Beanpot Since 1988

by Joe Meloni/Senior Writer (@JoeMeloni)

BOSTON — Adam Gaudette hears about it all the time. It's been 30 years, they say, since Northeastern proved it was the best team in Boston. Thirty years since the Huskies won the city's storied championship — the Beanpot.

He hears it from everywhere. Sometimes, even his coach.

Jim Madigan played for Northeastern from 1981 through 1985. He and Gaudette had exactly one thing in common as Northeastern hockey players before Monday — their jersey number.

"He," Gaudette said, "always says he's the real No. 8 and points to the banners."

Sure, Gaudette is one of the best players in the country, but Madigan had one major advantage.

The banners at Matthews Arena tell the story. While Madigan played for Northeastern from 1981 through 1985, the Huskies won the Beanpot twice. That wasn't all, though. The Huskies won an ECAC title in 1982 and advanced to the Final Four the same year. So Gaudette, even with Hobey Baker candidacy, his place among the nation's best scorers and the NHL future waiting on the other side of April, always had to concede. 

Madigan owned that No. 8 jersey for the time being.

That all changed on Monday night at TD Garden.

Gaudette scored three goals, and Northeastern defeated Boston University to win the Beanpot and skate the ice at TD Garden as the champions of Boston. 

It was the Huskies' first Beanpot title since 1988.

Madigan was there for that last Beanpot celebration, too. 

Monday's title was the Huskies' fifth in the tournament's history. Madigan has been a part of four — two as a player, one as an assistant coach and Monday's as the head coach. In his time, he has observed NU from every vantage point. He was a player, an administrator, a fan and, now, the steward of his alma mater's hockey program. No one wears the Northeastern logo with greater pride than Jim Madigan.

So no one understands what the Huskies accomplished on Monday quite like their coach.

"The last 15 years, there have been so many windows of excellence from the physical transformation of the campus to our academic transformation," Madigan said. "We're one of the hottest schools in the country. We've had some success in basketball and hockey, certainly our Olympic sports have had a lot of success, but it's evaded us in this tournament. And it's probably the most relevant tournament in our athletic department because it's a city championship. It's dragged us down a little bit. Now, we can finally say that we accomplished it. We won the Beanpot. Coupled now with winning the Hockey East championship (in 2016), we can say that we've won two major championships in three years. We can brag for a little bit. The institution has come forward, and this was always part of it."

Outside of Boston, the Beanpot has never mattered much. And it's not supposed to. However, there's no questioning the city contains some of college hockey's power brokers. There are 11 national championships between Boston College, Boston University and Harvard. 

Northeastern is the other one. The one that doesn't belong. Nothing illustrated that futility more than the Huskies' continued failure. What made it even worse were the misses. Between the 1988 title and Monday's triumph, the Huskies lost the Beanpot final nine times, including three in overtime. The last was a 2015 extra frame defeat against BU. Sure, Harvard went 23 years without a Beanpot before its win last year. But the Crimson have a national championship and their status as the world's foremost university.

Northeastern needed the Beanpot. Even 2016's Hockey East tournament championship and NCAA tournament berth didn't quite seem like enough. The Huskies defeated UMass-Lowell to win that title. It was a massive victory for the program. But it wasn't the Beanpot. It's clear, though, that winning the Lamoriello Trophy in 2016 showed a young Northeastern team it could get there.

"The past few years, we've been building up," Gaudette said. "It started with Hockey East. We built that culture in the room and with our fans at the rink and around campus. Everyone's invested so much time. We're better-known around campus but also around Boston and the whole country. (Monday) night was another step."

Gaudette, of course, was critical. His goals helped Northeastern take its initial lead of 2-1 and build it from there. His empty-net goal with 31 seconds left sealed the win and started a massive party in northwest corner of TD Garden.

The Northeastern players skated right over to their fellow students to celebrate the win. Gaudette, though, took a moment with his coach.

"He came up to me and said, 'you're the real No. 8 now,'" Gaudette said. 

"Before the game, he pulled me aside and said he wanted another Northeastern No. 8 to hold that trophy. I'm so happy for him and to be a part of this Beanpot."

There were many people with a hand in this. And for the first time in 30 years, they can say it. Shouting it with pride on the Orange Line from North Station back to Huntington Avenue, they're happy to let you know one thing — Northeastern won the Beanpot.

The Huskies are the champions of Boston.

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