The Beanpot tournament has been played the first two Monday’s of February since 1958. The tournament pits four of Boston’s college hockey teams against each other: Boston College Eagles, Boston University Terriers, Harvard University Crimson, and Northeastern University Huskies. Of course, since the event takes place in February, it is usually not a huge surprise if some snow falls on the night of either the semi-final games, or the night of the consolation game and the Championship Game. It is Boston—snow is just something expected.
Such was the opinion as the snow began to fall on February 6, 1978. The semi-final games took place as expected in the 26th annual Beanpot, at the Boston Garden. Harvard edged out Northeastern in overtime, 4-3 in the first match-up. Meanwhile, the BU Terriers took it to the BC Eagles in an amazing 12-5 victory in the second game.
“It was a great win for us. We were going to the Beanpot final—everybody was excited about that,” shared BU head coach Jack Parker in 2008. “Then we got outside, and the game was forgotten. It was like a shock. The streets were full of people, because they couldn’t move their cars. We were picking up BU students along the way. The bus was mobbed by the time we got to Kenmore Square.”
While the Boston University team had their bus, that was plowing its way back to the university, many of the 11,666 fans who had stayed to watch the BU and BC tilt found things dramatically different as they tried to leave the game. In fact, some of the spectators would end up camping out at the arena—eating hot dogs and sleeping in the bleachers and locker rooms.
The storm, which began Sunday night and continued into Tuesday, dumped 27.1 inches of snow on the city of Boston. Boston would see a similarly snowy February in 2015, when roughly eight feet of the fluffy and not so fluffy stuff fell from the sky—and it would again impact the playing of the Beanpot.
For the Terriers, there was a tradition of celebrating at the Dugout after a hockey game.
“Believe it or not, these were the prescholarship days,” said former BU goaltender Brian Durocher in 2014 in a BU Today piece. “and players needed part-time jobs to get by. It was a hockey tradition that your junior or senior year, you’d get hired at the Dugout.”
Patrick L. Kennedy went on to describe in his piece about the Dugout, “The whole team gathered in the old alehouse after games, along with the usual mix of fans, sportswriters, and assorted hangers on. The Jukebox featured ‘O Canada’ for those players who hailed from north of the border.”
“We were coming into Kenmore, and Jack O’Callahan [team co-captain] came up to the front of the bus and said, ‘If we go all the way up to Walter Brown Arena just to unload our stuff, everybody is going to trudge all the way back to get back to the Dugout.’ He was right, but I didn’t want it to be known that I was encouraging people to go to the Dugout,” continued Coach Parker.
“We get to Commonwealth Avenue and we stop at Marsh Chapel, and Jack Parker says, ‘Anybody who wants to get out and go into the chapel and pray may do so.’ Well, half the bus got off, but they weren’t going to Marsh Chapel. They went across the street to the Dugout. The bar was their home for a week,” former sports information director for BU, Ed Carpenter said.
O’Callahan, along with a few others of the 1978 Terrier squad, including Dave Silk, would end up playing together again two years later on a much bigger stage—in Lake Placid, New York in the 1980 Winter Olympics. However, their week at the Dugout as they waited for some of the snow to be cleared and the city to regain its control, would be a fond memory mentioned as years went by.
The Blizzard of ’78 postponed the Beanpot Championship game until March 1. Even the snows in February of 2015 didn’t force the Beanpot out of February. This has been the only time since 1958, the 6th annual tournament, that both sets of games were not played in February.
- Northeastern United States Blizzard of 1978 on Wikipedia
- Ian Aldrich, “A Wintry Blast: Boston Blizzard of 1978,” Boston Magazine, January 28, 2008
- Patrick L. Kennedy, “The Little Dive with a Long History,” BU Today: Campus Life, September 30, 2014
- Beanpot Tournament website