BOSTON -- When it comes to the Beanpot Tournament, the first semifinal contestants have polar opposite histories. However, it is recent history that is on the side of the tournament underdogs as the Northeastern Huskies take on the No. 9/11 Boston University Terriers in the 5 p.m. contest on Monday at TD Garden.
Thanks to Maine's Super Bowl Sunday victory over UMass-Lowell, the Huskies enter the contest in sole possession of last place in the league standings at 4-11-3 (7-13-3 overall).
Entering Monday, NU has already beaten each of its three Beanpot opponents once this season and is in the midst of a stretch of five wins in eight games over the Terriers. The latest of that streak came on Jan. 18 when Husky senior captain Vinny Saponari scored his second winner in as many games against his old team with 2:03 remaining in regulation for a 6-5 win at Agganis Arena.
The Huskies have won just 27.8 percent of the games (56-152-8) in the all-time series between the teams, including a 7-31 disadvantage in the Beanpot. The canine competitors have not met in the tournament since the Terriers captured a berth to the 2010 title game with a 2-1 victory - the longest drought possible in between meetings.
In fact, the Terriers have won each of the head-to-head Beanpot meetings between the teams since the Huskies were last tournament winners in 1988 - a span of 15 games.
Rookie Kevin Roy leads the attack with 12 goals and 15 assists in 23 games for the Huskies, including four points in the last three games. The Montreal native has scored points in seven of his last eight games, totaling five goals and nine assists in that span.
In addition to Roy, the Monday opener also features Hockey East's second-leading freshman scorer in BU's Danny O'Regan, a Needham native and scorer of nine goals and 22 points in 24 games.
If there is anyone that has the experience to take the Huskies to Beanpot supremacy and end the near quarter-century curse, it is head coach Jim Madigan, who captured two titles as a student-athlete from 1984-85 and one as an assistant coach in 1988. However, no NU coach has finished higher than third when leading the team in his second year behind the bench.
On the other side, the Terriers are the all-time kings of the tournament as they enter this year seeking their 30th title. BU's seniors, though, are trying to avoid being the first class since 1965 to graduate without a Beanpot title. Fifth-year senior defenseman Ryan Ruikka is the lone Terrier with a title as he was a freshman back in 2009.
BU was ranked No. 9/11 in the nation before suffering a crushing 5-1 blow on Friday night at UMass. A late shorthanded goal in the third period from senior Ben Rosen was all the Terriers could muster on offense. It sits fourth in Hockey East at 10-7-1 (13-10-1 overall).
Led by sophomore Texan Cason Hohmann, who has a team-best 17 assists and 23 points, BU looks for its 27th trip to the championship in the past 30 years and the 49th of all-time. Senior captain Wade Megan, an upstate New Yorker and Florida draft pick leads the way with 12 goals.
BU entered the season in an uncharacteristic situation as none of its three goalies had NCAA experience for the first time in 43 years. Matt O'Connor, who makes the Monday night start, and Sean Maguire have seemingly split time between the pipes and turned in some pretty strong performances along the way.
In the last meeting between the teams on Jan. 18, the Terriers erased a three-goal deficit in the third period, only to drop the contest, 6-5. Potting six on Sean Maguire was the most NU has ever scored in Agganis Arena and also marked NU's second win in a row over the Terriers - something that has not happened in the regular season since 1989.
Joshua Kummins covers Hockey East for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.