The men’s and women’s hockey teams are headed in the same direction: Up. After a slow start, the women’s team has found its shooting touch, amassing 23 goals in its last five games. The men’s team, meanwhile, has cracked the nation’s top 10 for the first time in almost five years, the result of recent victories over No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 18 Vermont.
Both teams will have the chance to showcase their talent this week in the semifinal round of the annual Beanpot Tournament, the winner of which traditionally earns two things: a shiny trophy and 12 months of bragging rights.
The men will face off against Harvard on Monday at 5 p.m. at the TD Garden. The game will be telecast on NESN and broadcast on 1330 AM. The women will battle Harvard on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Conte Forum, home of the Boston College Eagles. One week later, the victors will play for the Beanpot Championship against the winners of the Boston College-Boston University semifinal matchups.
Here are five storylines to follow as you cheer on the black and red:
Will Roy repeat as tournament MVP?
- Last season, star forward Kevin Roy earned Northeastern’s first Beanpot MVP award since Bruce Racine in 1988, potting five goals in two games. The case for a repeat performance is strong: through 26 games, Roy has amassed a team-high 31 points, tied for 10th best in the country.
Third time’s the charm?
- The men’s team is 0-2 against No. 2 Boston College this season, losing a home-and-home series by a combined score of 8 to 5. But the Huskies may have a chance to avenge those early season setbacks on a big stage: Wins by the Huskies and Eagles in their respective first round games would set up a winner-take-all Beanpot championship between the Hockey East rivals on Feb. 10. Last season, the Eagles edged the Huskies in the title game, 6-3.
The puck stops here
- Northeastern’s Clay Witt is the Beanpot’s best goalie by the numbers, posting a 2.04 goals against average and .943 save percentage in 21 starts. Harvard’s goal-scorers should pose a modest challenge for the stingy goalkeeper, but the high-flying Eagles offense is the country’s best, potting 4.5 goals per game. If the two teams meet in the Beanpot championship, look for Witt to show why he’s a four-time winner of Hockey East’s Defensive Player of the Week award.
Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
- The women’s team has won five games in a row, the most recent of which was a 4-2 win over Vermont on Saturday. Standing between the Huskies and a six-game winning streak is No. 3 Harvard, their first round Beanpot foe. If the past dictates the present, there is reason to believe in Northeastern’s chances of advancing to the title game: In 30 Beanpot games between the two clubs, the black and red hold a slight edge in the wins with 16.
- The women’s team captured its 15th and 16th Beanpot titles in 2012 and 2013, but winning the coveted trophy for the third consecutive season would be an even greater achievement than either of the previous two victories. This club is without last season’s top three scorers—Rachel Llanes and Casey Pickett have graduated while Kendall Coyne has been selected to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team in Sochi. What’s more, the Huskies have compiled a 1-9-1 record against ranked opponents, of which Harvard, BU, and BC lay claim. Nevertheless, hockey is a game of inches and bounces, of puck luck and pluck. Anything can happen.