Monday, February 9, 2009

Let's Go Huskies! (No, the other ones)

I wonder what Jack Grinold will be doing at 5 p.m. tonight? I know what he won't be doing: Watching his Northeastern hockey team playing in the consolation game of the Beanpot Tournament.

For years and years (and years), Grinold, the esteemed associate director of athletics and former sports information director at NU, was nicknamed "5 o'clock Jack." That's because the Huskies always played in that 5 p.m. game on the second Monday in February, having lost the Beanpot first-round game at the Boston/TD Banknorth Garden the Monday before.

Not this year. Not tonight. The Huskies play at 8 p.m. (NESN) against top-ranked -- and top-despised on Huntington Ave -- Boston University in the Beanpot championship game. It's been 21 years since Northeastern last hoisted the trophy. Because of that, I actually hold a special place in Northeastern sports history -- I am the last writer at the Northeastern News to write about a Huskies Beanpot title.

In 1988, I was a freshman at Northeastern, hoping to launch a career in sports journalism. Along with good friends Jon Tapper and Kevin Hayes, I joined the NU News staff late in 1987 and assumed the hockey beat in December. The Northeastern hockey team had enjoyed some Beanpot success in the 1980s under coach Fern Flaman, but with players such as BC's Brian Leetch and Craig Janney off-campus with the U.S. Olympic hockey team, the Huskies dominated the Boston hockey scene in 1988.

Led by Kevin Heffernan and goalie Bruce Racine, who later had a cup of coffee with the St. Louis Blues, the Huskies not only won the Beanpot by beating BU, they also took the Hockey East title at the Boston Garden, knocking off New England powerhouse Maine. Those three games proved the only three I ever got to cover at the old Garden, a thrill for a sportswriter of any age, let alone an 18-year-old.

It's still the only time in school history the Huskies won both titles in the same season. Could 2009 be second? It all starts at 8 p.m. tonight.

Not 5.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jeff,
    Funny stumbling across this. You probably don't remember, but I cooped at the Courant last fall. I'm currently the sports editor at the Huntington News (no more NU News.... we are independent). I thought I might break your record. There's still a lede and a few grafs from a winning story saved on my computer, never to see the light of day....

    Still hoping for a HE title.... this will be a big weekend.