On Monday night the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins skated to a 4-0 win against the Albany Devils at Boardwalk Hall. Although they were playing a division rival, some players had a different hockey event on their mind.
With players from Northeastern University, Boston College and Boston University, almost half the team was keeping track of the Beanpot Tournament.
“We were all checking scores, like during our game, and then afterwards the BU and BC guys were trying to follow it on the bus when we were driving back to see who was going to win and go to the final,” said Brad Thiessen, former Northeastern Huskies goaltender.
The Penguins have multiple former Hockey East players on their roster: Thiessen and Joe Vitale from NU, John Curry and Brian Strait from BU and Carl Sneep and Chris Collins from BC. In addition, head coach John Hynes played for BU.
Thiessen is relieved the Huskies aren’t facing BU in the final because Curry and Strait like to get on his case about the rivalry more.
“They don’t talk as much as the BU guys,” He said of Collins and Sneep, “They’re excited; they’re looking forward to watching it with us. Going into it there will probably be a few bets on the line. Our radio announcer is from BC too, so he talks a little more than the other guys.”
Vitale added, “Strait will call it the BU invitational. Me and Brad always say it’s NU’s year but everyone just laughs at us.”
What Thiessen and Vitale don’t know is that Collins, who dressed in four Beanpots for the Eagles, is ready to get the chirping started.
“I’m gonna start it up pretty soon. Once I found out BC won, I was pretty excited. I think we’ll start chirping when the week goes on and make some bets so it’ll be a fun week,” said Collins.
Both Vitale and Thiessen are ready to put money on the table for a Huskies win. Collins is looking to bet not just money, but for dinner as well on the team’s upcoming roadtrip.
With seven Beanpot alumni in the locker room, Vitale and Thiessen are the only ones who never won the contest. The other players don’t let them forget that fact.
“The guys give it to us. They all bring it up when it’s Beanpot time,” said Vitale, “The Canadian guys don’t get it and when the BU or BC guys explain they all say ‘Oh, it’s a tournament that BU and BC wins every year.”
Collins won the Beanpot his sophomore year at BC and showed some sympathy for the former Huskies.
“It’s tough. NU’s had a tough stretch at the Beanpot. I only won one in my four years,” said Collins, “It’s a tough tournament every year, it’s always a dog fight.”
The Penguins have the night off next Monday for the final and are already making plans for the game.
Thiessen, who plans on wearing his Huskies hockey attire on Monday, said, “We’ll all get together and make sure we watch the game at someone’s place or a bar or somewhere… They’ll be some talking back and forth throughout the game”
Collins spent the last two seasons in Europe and hasn’t watched a Beanpot tournament since he played in his last one in 2006.
“It’ll be fun. It’ll be competitive. It’s nice to have guys on the team that played in the Beanpot, you can keep the rivalry going,” he said.
Thiessen said he plans on sending “Good Luck” texts to current players, such as Mike McLaughlin and Tyler McNeely. Vitale said he will wait until after the game, regardless of the outcome, so the players would stay focused.
“Maybe I’ll make some calls to my linemates… Wade MacLeod and McNeely,” said Vitale.
As far as game predictions, the Penguins players showed a little bias in that they all picked their own team.
Collins things BC will take the win 4-2, one of the goals being an empty netter.
“I’m not exactly sure but I think BC is gonna come out on top. Just looking at the track record the last couple years. I think it’ll be a close game, but BC is gonna get the edge,” he said.
Thiessen picked the Huskies 3-2 with goals by MacLeod, Steve Quailer and Brodie Reid. Vitale also called a Huskies win 2-1 with goals by MacLeod and McNeely.
“I hope it stays close, I know BC’s got a really good team. They’ve got a lot of good forwards so, hopefully Rawlings has a good game and some of the guys chip in on goals, it’s going to be a tough game,” said Thiessen, “It’ll be tough to pull out but hopefully the students and fans go out to support and give them a little extra jump.”