BOSTON — For over two decades it's been nothing but the agony of defeat for the Northeastern University men's hockey team in the Beanpot Tournament. Not since 1988 have the Huskies captured the title in the prestigious two-week showdown that features the four Boston Division 1 hockey programs (NU, Harvard, Boston College and Boston University).
This year, however, change could be in the air for the Huskies. On the heels of a 4-0 drubbing of Harvard at the TD Garden Monday night in the opening round of the Beanpot, Northeastern moves on to next Monday's final to face the winner of the late game between BC and BU. The Eagles and Terriers have combined to win the last 18 Beanpot titles.
"(Northeastern) dominated us in every facet of the game," Harvard head coach Ted Donato said. "They were a much better team out there tonight."
Helping the Huskies (9-11-6) to their second Beanpot final appearance in three seasons was Essex native Cody Ferriero, who got his first taste of the famed tourney. The freshman winger, who was a star for Governors Academy just last year, is already playing regular minutes for the Huskies on their third line at just 19-years-old.
"You have to treat it like a normal game, but yeah, there was something extra to it," said Ferriero. "It was a great time. It was really fast paced and we definitely capitalized on a few power plays."
In Monday's win Ferriero, whose brother Benn is a forward for the San Jose Sharks, notched significant ice time in the win while recording a pair of shots on goal. Ferriero's best scoring opportunity came late in the third period when he took a drop pass from linemate Braden Primm and ripped a one-timer on Harvard goalie Kyle Richter, who replaced starter Ryan Carroll after two periods.
"It was a great play by (Primm) to set me up," Ferriero said. "He laid it perfect, I may have hit it a little quick but it was a good look."
While he did not score, Ferriero, who has a goal and an assist in 22 games played this season for Northeastern, showed the potential that made him a coveted prospect for many New England colleges. The left winger showed speed from end to end along with heady play on both the offensive and defensive zone.
A win by Boston College on Monday night would set up a showdown between the Huskies and Eagles with unlimited storylines for the Ferriero family. For starters Benn Ferriero, won a Beanpot title and a National Title with the Eagles in 2008, and to top it all off ,Cody originally committed play for Boston College but changed his mind and switched over to the Huskies last summer.
"It doesn't matter either way. No matter who we play it will be a good rivalry game," Ferriero said. "Obviously if it is BC, it's a little extra incentive for me, but it won't change the way we play or anything."
So why do the Huskies have a chance to knock off nationally ranked Boston College or Boston University and capture their first Beanpot in 23 years? They are playing their best hockey of the season right now, that's why. Over their last seven games the Huskies are 4-1-2 against the shark tank that is Hockey East.
Even more important is the fact that goalie Chris Rawlings (41 saves on Monday) has been nothing short of a brick wall in net and has drawn some attention from National Hockey League squads according to head coach Greg Cronin.
The Huskies recent surge has Cronin and company believing that 2011 could be the year of the Huskies, who have grown tired of being Beanpot bridesmaids. They are hoping their run does not end the same way it did in 2009, with a 5-2 loss to BU.
"The kids are getting sick and tired of losing in this tournament," Cronin said. "Everybody loves a winner and we are playing good hockey right now. It's going to be a tough battle next week but a game that I think we can win."
****Boston College defeated BU in OT to set up BC-NU Final*****
Matt Burke contributed to this story.