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Dan's View From Center Ice - 2/14/2012

by Dan Rusanowsky / San Jose Sharks

When you go on a long road trip, there are lots of stories surrounding planes, trains, and automobiles, but there are lots of hockey stories, too, usually told during games but sometimes around locker rooms.

Monday’s game in Washington provided a few examples. Following a late-night flight from St. Louis after a disappointing loss to the Blues, the men in Teal woke up the next morning and bussed straight to the Verizon Center, home of the Washington Capitals, for a meeting and optional skate.

It was an exciting, yet bittersweet day for right winger Tommy Wingels. He was excited to be back in the lineup after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. But he was going to be stepping on the Verizon Center ice surface for the first time since 2009, when he did so as a member of the Miami University team in the NCAA Championship game.

On that particular day, Miami had a 3-1 lead with one minute to play. But Boston University scored twice in the final minute to force overtime, then shocked the Red Hawks with an overtime winner for the national title.

That’s a story in itself for Wingels, but guess who his roommate was in our nation’s capital? That’s right: John McCarthy, co-captain of the Boston University team that won on that fateful day.

McCarthy was a focus of some college hockey attention on Monday, since it was also the same day that the Beanpot Tournament final was taking place in Boston. Interested in the opinions of those who played in the tournament, I heard from McCarthy and Benn Ferriero, who commented on the experience for us on our radio broadcast. Of course, the teammates played against each other, with Ferriero donning the colors of the Boston College Eagles, and McCarthy for the arch-rival Boston University Terriers.

As you heard on our KFOX/Sharks Radio Network broadcast, what was most interesting were the similarities of the young men’s experiences.

“I still remember my first Beanpot game was against Harvard my freshman year,” McCarthy noted, “and it was just a real(ly) cool experience for me because, growing up in the Boston area, I went to the Beanpot almost every year with my father and my brother and that was one of the reasons why I picked B.U. so I could play in the Beanpot and I have a lot of good memories of the tournament.”

“A great experience,” Ferriero told us. “I grew up in Boston and as a kid I always went to the Beanpot with my father – he’d always take me to either the finals or the first game – and that’s just what you watch when you grow up, and to get a chance to play in it was unbelievable and a great experience.”

The Beanpot Tournament is a unique showcase for college hockey, and as you can tell from the players’ comments, it is also a magnetic recruiting tool for the schools that participate. Played at the TD Garden in front of enthusiastic sellout crowds, it is held on successive Mondays each February. The teams that participate are the four Boston-based Division I hockey teams: Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College, and Boston University. As you can tell, it is a family experience, with fathers bringing their sons, and with dreams of gaining a college scholarship and playing in the tournament foremost in the minds of young Boston-area hockey players.

“It’s a really cool tournament for those four teams because you already know you’re in it at the beginning of the year, you don’t have to (qualify for) it, so it’s always a goal of the year at least for BU to win the Beanpot,” said McCarthy to the radio audience. “There’s been a lot of history in the tournament and I know that the players really look forward to it.”

What was it like playing against each other in the Beanpot? “I guess it was difficult,” smiled Ferriero, whose brother, Cody, a Sharks draft pick, now goes to Northeastern. “We grew up playing together and against each other throughout our careers, and it’s pretty cool when you get to play with all of your buddies, either on the same team or opposing teams.”

McCarthy agreed that the competitiveness of the whole tournament experience stays with each Beanpot player. “It’s funny that you play (on the same team) with guys after, and you know, they want to win it just as bad as you do, and that’s what makes it such a good tournament, the competitiveness of the whole tournament.”

During their four college years, Ferriero and McCarthy faced each other in two Beanpot finals, In the 2006 final, Boston University prevailed, 3-2. In the 2007 final, the Terriers captured a 2-1 overtime win. In 2008, an overtime goal by Sharks draft selection Nick Petrecki gave Boston College a 6-5 win over Harvard, and in 2009, Boston University beat Northeastern in the final, 5-2.

The Monday morning prediction machine was also going on in the locker room concerning this year’s final game. While McCarthy only would predict a Terrier’s victory without a score, Ferriero was a little more specific in his prognostication. “I think BC’s going to take this one, obviously, but I think BU’s ranked ahead of them in the standings,” he said in the radio interview. “They’re both playing well this year. It’s kind of a typical final, BC vs. BU, with a packed house in the Garden, and I think BC takes it in a close one, 4-2.”
You never know how it’s going to turn out, but this year’s game made Ferriero the winner of bragging rights, at least for a year. Boston College captured the Beanpot Tournament championship in overtime, 3-2, when a Calgary Flames draft pick, Bill Arnold, scored the winner with just 6.4 seconds left in the first overtime period.

When we get to NCAA Frozen Four time, the college hockey players in the Sharks locker room will all have an interest in the proceedings. This year’s tournament will take place in the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, which just so happens to be the next destination on this long, 9-game sojourn.

We’ll also look forward to hearing from the junior players about the Memorial Cup finals, which take place this May in Shawinigan, Quebec. I am hopeful to feature Sharks’ junior players reminiscing about their Memorial Cup experiences on our broadcasts as well, because that would mean that the Sharks will be deep into another Stanley Cup playoff run.

FOOTNOTE: Thanks to all of you for tuning in to the radio broadcasts on Classic Rock KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM and the San Jose Sharks Radio Network affiliate stations nearest you. We do get some requests for assistance in synching up our radio feed to the national TV picture that you get (the next nationally televised game is in Detroit on this trip), and I can tell you that if you listen on an application like TuneIn Radio or on the web, the radio is actually behind the TV, so you can use your DVR to stop the picture until it synchs up. But sometimes, radio is a bit ahead of the TV, so here is a more detailed article describing what methods can be used to synch up the radio and TV, from last year’s playoffs.

Thanks for being there with us, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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