Blackhawks at the Beanpot: Shea, Vlasic, and Wise reach Final

  

The Beanpot. A college hockey tradition unlike any other. So, what is it?

For a college hockey fan like myself, I only came across The Beanpot tournament in the last decade. The tournament is held annually in Boston between Northeastern University, Harvard, Boston University, and Boston College. It originally began in 1952 and has been held on the first two Mondays of February each year since at the famed Boston Garden (TD Garden), although the inaugural Beanpot tournament took place at the Boston Arena. It holds a special place among the rich tradition of hockey in the Boston area and forever holds collegiate bragging rights in the city for those who hoist the Beanpot Trophy.

The 68th Beanpot Tournament this year features three Blackhawks prospects with Jake Wise and Alex Vlasic of the Boston University Terriers and Ryan Shea, captain of the defending back-to-back Champion Northeastern Huskies. Last night, Northeastern topped Harvard and Boston University came back against Boston College setting up all three Blackhawks prospects in next Monday’s Final. Shea and the Huskies have an opportunity to win the Beanpot Tournament for a third time in-a-row, while Vlasic and Wise could help give the Terriers their first Beanpot Title since 2015.

Shea, Northeastern going for seventh Beanpot Title

In the opening game of the tournament, the 12th-ranked Northeastern Huskies topped 17th-ranked Harvard 3-1 to advance to next Monday’s Final against Boston University. The Huskies were led by Chicago Blackhawks 2015 fourth-round draft pick and captain Ryan Shea as he tallied a primary assist and an empty-net goal in the victory.

Shea’s two-point night gives him a point-per-game pace this season for the Huskies with 24 points in 24 games played. He has set NCAA career-highs in goals (4), assists (20) and points (24) this season with Northeastern.

Shea and the Huskies head to their third-straight Beanpot Final, looking to bring home their seventh tournament championship in program history. Northeastern has had the least success of the four schools involved in the tournament historically, but their recent success as of late can be attributed in part to Shea and former Husky and current Rockford IceHogs standout Dylan Sikura. Sikura was part of the Northeastern squad along with Shea that started the road to a three-peat back in 2017. While his long-term future is unclear with the Chicago Blackhawks, Shea’s immediate future lies with leading his Huskies squad to the Final against Boston University, looking to be the first three-peat winners since Boston College won five-straight from 2010 to 2014.

Vlasic, Wise and Boston advance past Boston College in overtime

In an even more thrilling contest Monday night, the Boston University Terriers upset the fourth-ranked Boston College Eagles 5-4 in double overtime to advance to the Beanpot Final and set up a rematch from the 2018 tournament final, won by Northeastern.

The Terriers were powered by multi-point efforts on the night from David Farrance (goal, two assists), Patrick Harper (goal, two assists), and Schaumburg, Illinois native Patrick Curry (goal, assist). Wise was held off the scoresheet and Vlasic tallied a secondary assist on the game’s overtime-winning goal from Wilmer Skoog.

For the freshman Vlasic, he tallied his fourth assist on the season as he continues his transition to the college hockey level of competition. A second-round pick by the Blackhawks this past June and native of Wilmette, Illinois, Vlasic projects to be a player that the Blackhawks hope to be able to slot into their defensive rotation at the NHL level in the next two or three seasons. At six-foot-six and 200-pounds, Vlasic is an imposing physical presence on the ice and moves well for his size and age on the ice.

Wise hasn’t been the same player that the Blackhawks drafted in the third round of the 2018 NHL Draft. Injuries have derailed his progression since joining the Boston University program. In 25 games this season, Wise has just one goal and six assists. It appeared Wise was headed for a fast-track with the Blackhawks just two years ago, but his NHL projection has slowed and his return to health and return to form are what the organization need from him.

What’s Next?

The 68th Beanpot Tournament Final takes place on Monday, February 10 at the TD Garden in Boston. The consolation game takes place on the same day, with a 3:30 p.m. CST puck drop. The Final puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m. CST and can be found on the NHL Network. Boston University is searching for their tournament-best 31st title, while Northeastern looks for Beanpot Championship number seven.