Cayden Primeau makes a spectacular save against Aapeli Räsänen at last year’s Beanpot. Photo courtesy of https://www.collegehockeynews.com/
On Monday afternoon, the 68th Annual Beanpot Tournament will kick off at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Northeastern University will take on Harvard University at 5:00 pm EST and then Boston College will face their nemesis Boston University at 8:00 pm EST.
The other day, Brian Kelley, the Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Communications at Boston University Athletics tweeted that this year’s Beanpot will be televised across Canada and the United States. For a while now, Beanpot has mainly had only local coverage, but this year, the event organizers are changing things up. Not only will hockey fans in New England be able to watch Beanpot on NESN, but Americans from coast-to-coast will have the opportunity to tune in on NHL Network and Canadians from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island can tune in on TSN2.
In the first game, as mentioned above, the Harvard Crimson will be facing the Northeastern Huskies. At the moment, the Crimson are in third place in the ECAC hockey standings. Clarkson and Cornell have slightly better records, but the Crimson have the talent to leap past them. Casey Dornbach (No NHL Rights), Nicholas Abruzzese (Toronto Maple Leafs prospect), Jack Drury (Carolina Hurricanes prospect) and John Farinacci (Arizona Coyotes prospect) has been leading the charge in the offensive zone. Between the four forwards, they have combined for 39 goals and 61 assists.
If I had to pick one forward to keep an eye on, it is Abruzzese. Recently, I wrote a prospect breakdown on the Maple Leafs prospect for a new up and coming Leafs blog site, The Leafs Beat. While Abruzzese was an over-ager selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, he has certainly remained rather consistent with his offensive production and the Maple Leafs might have a diamond in the rough. It is still early in his development, but it is great to see how the Slate Hill, New York native has evolved since his first season (2017-18) in the USHL with the Chicago Steel. In the defensive zone, the Crimson are led by Jack Rathbone (Vancouver Canucks prospect), Reilly Walsh (New Jersey Devils prospect) and Henry Thrun (Anaheim Ducks prospect).
Rathbone is an exciting left-handed defenseman to watch out for. At his current pace, the West Roxbury, Massachusetts native is set to lap his point totals from last season. In 17 games played this season, Rathbone has tallied four goals and 14 assists. He has missed a few games due to an upper-body injury, but the 20-year-old returned to the lineup on Friday night against Union College in Schenectady, New York. Below are some video highlights of Rathbone. In the first video clip, we see Rathbone completes a saucer pass from his own zone to the neutral zone. The pass paves the way for a Harvard goal.
In the second clip, Rathbone is rushing up the ice on the penalty kill. He is deploying a wide stride in order to get to the slot at a fast rate. Once in the slot, he collects a pass and tries to stickhandle around the net-minder, but his shot ends up going wide.
In the last video, you can take a look at a few clips of Rathbone from Harvard’s November 1 st matchup against Dartmouth. In Daniel Gee (@DanielGScouting)’s video footage, you can check out his two-goal performance. Both goals came in the slot. Rathbone is dangerous with the puck in the slot. When you check out his second goal of the game, pay close attention to his shot fake as that paves the way for Rathbone to create some space and then take a shot.
The Northeastern Huskies have a record of 14-7-2, but January has not been kind for the Huskies. They had a couple of tough losses in overtime against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats on January 11th and the University of Connecticut Huskies on January 18th.
The Huskies biggest challenge has been in net. Craig Pantano (No NHL Rights) transferred to Northeastern prior to the season. Before coming to Northeastern, he had manned the pipes for Merrimack College. So far this season, Pantano has a 2.41 GAA and a .914 SV% in 22 appearances. While Pantano has been rather solid in net for the Huskies, he cannot replace Cayden Primeau (Montreal Canadiens prospect).
Even though Pantano might not be as talented as Primeau, the Huskies have a strong defensive core. Jordan Harris (Montreal Canadiens prospect), Jayden Struble (Montreal Canadiens prospect), Michael Kesselring (Edmonton Oilers prospect), Ryan Shea (Chicago Blackhawks prospect) and Jérémie Bucheler (Draft eligible prospect) provide Pantano with a nice brick wall. While the defensive unit is a very strong one, Harris is one stride above everyone else. In 21 games this season, the Haverhill, Massachusetts native has recorded three goals and 12 assists.
In the two clips below, you can check out a couple of Harris highlights. In the first clip, Harris scores a penalty shot goal against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Minutemen. Harris deploys quality edges as he skates from center ice to the left of the offensive zone and then towards the net. Once Harris gets to the net, he shoots the puck five-hole past the Minutemen net-minder.
In the offensive zone, the Huskies have a solid forward group. Tyler Madden (Vancouver Canucks prospect), Zach Solow (No NHL Rights), Aidan McDonough (Vancouver Canucks prospect) and Matt Filipe (Carolina Hurricanes prospect) are leading the charge. But, in particular, Madden has been unstoppable. In 22 games played, former New Jersey Devils forward John Madden’s son has mustered up 17 goals and 16 assists.
Recently, I took a look at a few shifts of Madden in a November matchup against the Providence College Friars. When you take a look at those shifts, you will see just how remarkable Madden is. He is an elite skater, who makes tight turns and has a long stride that allows him to speed up and down the ice.
Boston College (16-7-0) did an outstanding job recruiting and it has paid off. Head Coach Jerry York and his staff landed a bunch of solid USNTDP and BCHL talent. Through their recruiting efforts, Boston College landed Alex Newhook (Colorado Avalanche prospect), Matthew Boldy (Minnesota Wild prospect), Marshall Warren (Minnesota Wild prospect), Drew Helleson (Colorado Avalanche prospect) and Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers prospect).
With their depth, Boston College easily has the best talent on paper in the Hockey East and quite possibly the best collegiate team across the NCAA. If I had to pick two players to watch out for at the Beanpot it is Newhook and Knight. While Newhook is not the point leader for Boston College and is not the goal leader, the 19-year-old Saint John’s, Newfoundland native is arguably the skater with the most talent. Last season, Newhook led the BCHL in scoring.
He managed to tally 102 points, which helped him secure the Brett Hull Trophy. Unfortunately, it took Newhook some time to get his feet wet in the NCAA after a remarkable season. He was held off the scoresheet in his first three collegiate games (against the University of Wisconsin, Colgate University and the University of Denver). On October 19th, in the second game of a back-to-back against the University of Denver he scored his first collegiate goal. Since that point, he has not looked back.
Below are two clips of Newhook from a contest against the University of Maine on January 25th. In the first clip, you will see Newhook showing off his wide stride as he propels himself from zone to zone. At the tail end of the shift, he gets jammed along the boards with the puck and turns it over. But, his skating in this clip is outstanding. He deploys a long wide stride.
In the second clip, we get a glimpse of Newhook putting pressure along the boards in the offensive zone. He loves to forecheck.
As mentioned prior, Knight is another player to keep your eyes on. The former USNTDP goaltender is having a great freshman season at BC. In 22 appearances, he has a 1.95 GAA and a .931 SV%. He has the third-lowest GAA in Hockey East. Filip Lindberg (Minnesota Wild prospect, UMass-Amherst) and Matthew Murray (No NHL Rights, UMass-Amherst) have lower GAAs, but both have played fewer games in net than Knight.
Below are a couple of GIFs that Steven Ellis of The Hockey News tweeted out from August. These clips are from the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. Knight seemed to be tough to beat even in high traffic situations. The only negative in these clips is when Knight overextends his right pad on the Kirby Dach (Chicago Blackhawks) shot.
Last but not least, we have Boston University (10-8-6). The Boston University Terriers are on a mission to re-gain bragging rights after they have watched Boston College, Harvard University and Northeastern University steal the show over the past few Beanpots. The last time that Boston University won Beanpot was back in 2015.
This season, the Terriers’ leading scorer is David Farrance (Nashville Predators prospect). The 2017 third-round selection is having his best collegiate season (junior year). In 24 games played, the left-handed defenseman has recorded 11 goals and 18 assists. He has the most points for a defenseman in Hockey East this season and is one point behind Mike Lee (NO NHL Rights, Sacred Heart University), who leads the NCAA in points as a defenseman. It was not long that another Nashville Predators defensive prospect was tearing it up for Boston University. Dante Fabbro (Nashville Predators prospect) was an unstoppable force in his junior season for the Terriers. Just like Fabbro, Farrance is a strong puck-moving defenseman and is truly a dynamic special teams asset.
In the two clips below, you will see just how special Farrance is. In the first clip, Farrance parks himself high up in the slot against the University of Massachusetts- Amherst on a BU powerplay. His teammate Robert Mastrosimone (Detroit Red Wings prospect) finds Farrance in the slot and Farrance manages to get the puck past Lindberg.
David Farrance has nine goals and it's not even Turkey Day.
In the second clip, you can check out how effective Farrance is when he completes a stretch pass. While this footage is a year old (2019 Beanpot), Farrance has not lost his touch. He delivers a perfectly timed stretch pass to Joel Farabee (Philadelphia Flyers prospect), who manages to skate up the ice and score a breakaway goal.