With Beanpot title, Harvard continues to prove it can be national contender

February 14, 2017 - 4:13 am

It has been well documented how much Boston University and Boston College have dominated the Beanpot, and thus the college hockey scene in Boston. The Hockey East schools boast two of the best programs in the nation, and their strength in the tournament has reflected that. The word "legacy" might be overused in sports, but the group at Harvard this season might be creating just that. On Monday night, it was the Crimson that brought home the Beanpot title for the first time since 1993. While the victory is certainly historic, it also reflects a changing of the guard in college hockey. "For that senior class, they want to be the group that broke the curse and leave a legacy," said Crimson head coach Ted Donato. "They did that." Both BU and BC should be heading toward the national tournament, but it might be Harvard that has the best shot at success there. "Our group felt like it was their night and they were willing to work to make sure it was their night," said Donato. "It's been a long time coming and I'm very happy for these guys." Donato, who won a Beanpot championship with Harvard in 1989 as a player, has been coaching Harvard since 2004, and it's been a rocky road for a team that has produced plenty of talent, but hasn't found much tournament or postseason success. "I didn't think it was going to take 13 years, I'll tell you that much," he said. Now on an eight-game winning streak and ranked third in the PairWise, this is a Harvard team that is a force to be reckoned with. In the program's first season post-Jimmy Vesey, the Crimson have still found a way to get great production from its lineup through a combination of senior leadership and emerging freshmen. With the third-ranked offense in the nation, averaging just over four goals per game, it's no surprise to see the Crimson put a six on the scoreboard, even against a strong defensive team like BU. The Harvard group is a close-knit bunch, as evidenced by how they spread the puck around; five different goal-scorers contributed to the six-goal night. There are eight seniors on the Harvard roster, including Hobey Baker candidate Alexander Kerfoot, who scored in both Beanpot games. He, along with the rest of his class, hadn't played a Beanpot night game before Monday. "You think about it leading up to games like this and after games like this," said  Kerfoot. "You hear a lot about the history and are proud to be part of the history, but going into games, you need to treat it like it's any other game." There's still a long way for Harvard to go; they haven't won an NCAA tournament game or an ECAC regular-season title since 1994. But if there was ever a team to make a championship run, it could very well be this Crimson crew. "This is a group that has really tackled making sure that our culture was right, had great leadership," Donato said. "I think this was something they really wanted. They wanted to leave that legacy, that they were going to break the curse, so to speak. I'm happy for them." Now with a Beanpot title, its a feather in the cap of the Donato-led Harvard team, and they aren't taking it lightly. "These guys might not choose to talk about it much but I think they really wanted to win this Beanpot," Donato said.