The dogs will be let out Monday night on college hockey's biggest regular-season stage.
"All the big games start the first two Mondays in February with the Beanpot," said Boston University coach Jack Parker, winner of 20 Beanpots in his legendary 37 seasons behind the Terriers' bench.
"The real men show up for the Beanpot and the last 10 games of the season," said Northeastern coach Greg Cronin, a relative newcomer to the Beanpot landscape in his fourth season as bench boss of the Huskies.
The 57th Beanpot final will be played before 17,565 fans at the annually sold-out TD Banknorth Garden, home of the Bruins since 1995.
Separated by the Charles River, Parker's No. 1 Terriers and Cronin's No. 3 Huskies will meet Monday night in the Beanpot final. Northeastern has a two-point lead over BU in the Hockey East standings. It will be the 11th Beanpot final between the two; BU holds a 7-3 advantage in Beanpot trophies.
Here's how each advanced in last Monday night's first-round games:
Game 1: BU 4, Harvard 3
-- Harvard (5-12-4) sprinted to a 2-0 lead before BU (20-5-1) got its power play in gear, notching three man-advantage tallies. The last was the game-winner at 18:14 of the third period by local-kid-makes-good Jason Lawrence
"Being from Saugus, Mass.," Lawrence told NHL.com, "I've grown up watching the Beanpot since I was 5-years-old with my dad. We tried to catch every one. It's a dream-come-true to play here, and obviously to score a goal like that is what you dream of playing street hockey with your buddies."
Harvard tied the game, 3-3, at 14:43 on a power-play goal by Pier-Olivier Michaud (Mont-Joli, Quebec).
The fireworks were not over at the final horn.
"It was the heat of the moment and close call," said Crimson sophomore Michael Biega (Montreal, Quebec) about his disallowed goal three-tenths of a second after the final horn. "That's why the Beanpot's so special. You're guaranteed to get a great game."
"I thought we battled to the last second," said Harvard coach Ted Donato
. "Maybe the last extra half-second."
"This is like the Super Bowl yesterday," quipped Parker. "Who's going to get the last shot, the last chance at it? It was a helluva college hockey game."
Game 2: Northeastern 6, BC 1
-- "I thought Northeastern played very, very well," said BC coach Jerry York, "and [Brad] Thiessen was outstanding."
Indeed, he was.
Thiessen, an Aldergrove, B.C. native, stopped 45 shots en route to a possible second consecutive Eberly Award for the best save percentage by the goalie playing both games. Only BC junior Matt Price
(Milton, Ontario) dented Thiessen's armor.
"They did a great job in front of me," said Thiessen, the unassuming junior quickly staking a claim as one of the top three goalies in Division I.
"We're a pretty humble group of guys and we know who we are," said Cronin. "Whether you win or not, just do the best you can. It's such a pleasure to have a guy who's the goalie take on the responsibilities of the team."
Heart-and-soul senior Husky Ryan Ginand from nearby Milford, Mass. -- who got Northeastern (18-6-2) rolling at 3:24 of the first on the power play with his 18th goal of the season -- summed it all up.
"The energy tonight was amazing," said Ginand. "I didn't know what it was like and now I do. I can't wait until next week."
Harvard and BC (11-10-4) meet in the consolation game at 5 p.m.; the championship game is scheduled for 8 p.m.
On Campus Clips
-- BU coach Jack Parker won his 800th career game Friday night in the Terriers' 3-1 win against Merrimack College, by far the most wins in college hockey history at one school. ... In the ongoing celebration of Hockey East's 25th anniversary, New Jersey Devils
goalie Scott Clemmensen
was named the "All-Time Unsung Player." Clemmensen patrolled the Boston College crease from 1997-2001, becoming the all-time leader in league wins with 52. His astonishing March record of 26-1-1 is the major reason for the Eagles appearing in the Frozen Four every year of his career, three of which included the national title game. In his final college game, the Eagles took down North Dakota, 3-2, in overtime for their first championship since 1949. ... Blake Kessel
, freshman defenseman for New Hampshire and younger brother of the Bruins' Phil Kessel
, scored the game-winning goal with two minutes remaining Friday night to defeat arch-rival Vermont, 3-2. ... According to the KRACH Ratings for American College Hockey, the Vermont Catamounts played the No. 1 strength schedule into last weekend's action. ... Calgary's Mike Cammalleri
is the NHL's top-scoring former CCHA player so far this season with a 25-23-48 line in 47 games. Former Lake State standout Brian Rolston
captured the mythical CCHA/NHL scoring title last season with 31-28-59 for Minnesota. ... ECAC Hockey and the American Cancer Society have teamed up once again to help fight cancer for the second consecutive season with an expanded "Pink At The Rink" program.