Long-standing tournament rich in hockey heritage

It was the third period, Boston University vs. Boston College, and things were starting to get chippy.

Historically, BC and BU, two of the top teams in the vaunted Hockey East conference, don’t get along, and this was no exception. But this time, it meant more. Beantown bragging rights were on the line.

For this was more than just a hockey game. This went beyond just another Hockey East matchup. This was the second game of the 59th annual Beanpot Tournament. How they played would not only decide the outcome of the game but would become part of them, part of their team’s legacy, and part of college hockey history.

It’s about the culture of Boston hockey. It’s the history and the heritage, the duty these players feel to uphold the numerous NHL stars who came before them. Names like Bill Guerin of BC, (who played for eight NHL teams including the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins), Chris Drury (captain of the New York Rangers), and numerous others.

It’s about a tradition that has produced the last three national champions, and nine total national champions since the NCAA started keeping score in 1948.

Northeastern has only garnered four Beanpot championships; Harvard has 10.

But when these four teams meet at the TD Garden, the rest of the hockey world seems irrelevant. Records fly out the window. Harvard’s 4-17 mark entering Monday couldn’t have been more irrelevant. It’s about the intensity of the games and the honor of playing in the tournament which drives these players and fans.

By the start of the game, the 17,000 in attendance had the chants, or shall I say insults, flying back and forth.

“Safety School,” the BC fans yelled at their Terrier nemisees.

BU responded with, “Sunday School.”

Most of the others I can’t repeat in newsprint.

And while what happened was expected in most circles — Northeastern breezed by Harvard without a challenge and BC edged BU  — what happens at the Beanpot is more than what takes place on the ice.

Don’t believe me? Stop by the garden next Monday night for the championship game between Northeastern and BC. The fans will have their pipes warmed up, ready to show you what Beanpot hockey is all about.