Harris: A Huskies hero for life
With the overtime winner in the final, Habs prospect secured Northeastern's first-ever three-peat at the Beanpotby Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com
MONTREAL - Northeastern University's history at the Beanpot isn't as storied as the other three schools who take part in the annual tournament. The Huskies hadn't won in the first 28 years of the event, with Wayne Turner's "shot heard 'round the Beanpot" finally handing them their first title in 1980.
And until 2020, Northeastern had yet to string together more than two tournament wins in a row.
The man responsible for the "shot heard 'round the Beanpot" part 2, which finally handed the Huskies their third consecutive championship? Canadiens prospect Jordan Harris.
Harris, a 19-year-old sophomore who was drafted by the Canadiens in the third round (71st overall) in 2018, had tasted victory with the Huskies the year before when fellow Habs hopeful Cayden Primeau backstopped his school to its first back-to-back tournament win since 1984-1985.
And with his team locked in a 4-4 tie headed into double overtime in the 2020 final against Boston University, Harris followed the advice of Northeastern associate coach Jerry Keefe and looked for an opportunity to get the puck on net.
"Right when we got the power play, I went over to the bench. Coach Keefe came up and said, 'Hey, if you can get to the middle and shoot, you'll probably have a lane there to get to the net and see what happens,'" described Harris, a native of Haverhill, MA, a 45-minute drive north from TD Garden. "I got the puck up from [Aidan] McDonough on the half-wall. I saw their forward had been over to the boards, so I tried to get to the middle and shoot. I was just trying to get it through. I saw a lane to get to the net. Luckily, my shot went through and into the net."
With that, Harris cemented his place in Huskies hockey history, handing Northeastern its first-ever three-peat at the Beanpot.
A part of the lore
First played in 1952, the Beanpot brings together the Boston area's four players in collegiate hockey - Northeastern, Boston University, Boston College, and Harvard - annually for a two-round tournament on the first two Mondays in February.
It's become somewhat of a rite of passage for young hockey players in the city, certainly an event that fans of the sport in the area watch and aspire to growing up.
And with this year's finale featuring what has been reported as the largest crowd in Beanpot history - with 17,850 in attendance - Harris knew he was in for something special when he stepped out onto the ice on February 10.
"There were almost 18,000 people there. It kind of looks like an NHL playoff game; there's the same energy there. I think for everyone, it kind of heightens the importance of the game and gives us a lot more energy," outlined the 5-foot-11, 179-pound defender. "You only get a couple of those a year for us college players, so those games are a lot of fun."
To say that getting one's name in the books for a major collegiate hockey program is 'fun' is likely an understatement, to say the least.
"In the moment, you don't really realize the magnitude of everything. It was a chance for us to make school history, so that was really important to me - to do that for our school and for our team, our coaches and everything," shared Harris. "Then, I started looking back and realizing - whoa - just how many people were there and how many people really care about the Beanpot."
Harris was one of those Boston-area kids who watched the Beanpot when he was younger, and it made it all the more special for him to hear from so many people who'd done so alongside him after he scored the historic goal.
"It was huge. Just going through Twitter and all the text messages, to see all the support was really nice. I don't want to say there was one person in particular. There were a lot of friends I grew up playing with; to see them following along meant a lot," he explained. "The fact they were watching and the fact there were a lot of people who were very proud of what I and our team managed to accomplish, it meant a lot."
Climbing the ranks
If the 2018-19 season was a momentous one for Harris, who made the jump from prep school at Kimball Union Academy directly to the NCAA, then the 2019-20 campaign has been even more so.
Harris has been eating up big minutes on the backend for the Huskies and has reprised the leadership role he first honed under coach Tim Whitehead at Kimball.
Video: Habs prospect Jordan Harris answers fan questions
But Harris' progression extends far beyond the realm of the NCAA's Hockey East Association, with the American blue-liner also getting the chance to don his country's colors for the first time at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.
"It was really, really special, to be honest. Coming on to one of the biggest stages in hockey, too. It was something I had been trying to do for awhile, represent the US. I had been close here and there, and I finally was able to wear that sweater. Obviously, we didn't have the results we wanted, but it was really special," recounted Harris, who scored Team USA's first goal in a 6-3 win over Germany on December 27. "And to have coach Keefe there, and my dad was there, so that was really nice too. It was a lot of fun."
Back at Northeastern, Harris doesn't seem fazed by the increased responsibility he's been given. Rather, he matched his entire 39-game Freshman season point total (1G, 12A, 13P) in just 18 games this season.
Video: Habs prospect excels in his Sophomore season
Before embarking on his collegiate adventure, the Business Administration major identified systems and structure as the biggest obstacle he'd have to overcome when making the transition from prep school to the NCAA.
And with an impressive 3.4 GPA to go along with all his hockey accolades, it's clear that thinking the game has become one of Harris' greatest strengths for the Huskies.
"I think that's been my biggest growth: just understanding the game. Just with that year of experience and the success of our team has allowed me to grow in that role, and I definitely think I'm thinking the game a lot better as a whole, and definitely on a more mature level. Moving forward, it's just being as consistent as I can, or just bringing my physicality, getting more shots on net," concluded Harris. "You see how important it is as you get to a higher level in the game."