Harvard’s Ted Donato enters the 70th Beanpot Hockey Tournament as the Dean of Coaches.
Donato is in his 18th season at his alma mater and will lead the Crimson against Boston College in the opening game of the Beanpot twinbill at 5 p.m. Monday at the TD Garden. Defending champion Boston University will take on Northeastern in the 8 p.m. nightcap.
Donato became the Beanpot’s elder statesman when BC coach Jerry York retired last April after 28 seasons behind the Eagles’ bench. The coaches and assorted players from the four programs assembled on Monday for the Beanpot luncheon in the Legends room at the TD Garden for the first time since 2020.
“I kind of just focus on the here and now but I do remember when I was the young kid,” said Donato. “I guess it’s a sign of the times that there have been changes.
“But they were all great coaches and great people and I’ve known them for quite a long time.”
The Old Guard
BU’s Jack Parker ascended to the Dean’s role when BC’s Len Ceglarski retired in 1992 after 20 seasons. Parker would enjoy the most successful run as both a player (1965-1968) and head coach (1973-2013) in the annals of the Beanpot.
Parker was 3-for-3 as a player under the legendary Jack Kelley and won 21 as the Terriers’ head coach that included a record six straight from 1995 to 2000. The institute of higher learning at the lower end of Commonwealth Ave. became known as “Beanpot University” on Parker’s watch.
York, the winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 hockey history, assumed the Dean’s role when Parker retired after the 2012-2013 season. York won a Beanpot as a player in 1965 and nine behind the BC bench that included five straight from 2010-2014.
Four of BC’s wins in the Beanpot (2001, 2008, 2010 and 2012) preluded the Eagles’ four NCAA championship runs during York’s tenure. The Eagles also claimed Hockey East titles in 2001, 2008 and 2012. York famously dubbed winning the Beanpot as “the start of Trophy Season.”
Northeastern brings up the rear with seven wins, but current Huskies’ athletic director Jim Madigan had his fingerprints on five of them as a player and a coach.
Madigan won back-to-back titles as a forward in 1984 and 1985 and three straight behind the bench from 2018-2020. Madigan handed the job over to his capable chief assistant, Jerry Keefe, when he joined upper sports management team on Huntington Ave. after the 2020-2021 season.
Donato won the Beanpot as a player in 1989 and Harvard went on to win the national championship. He won his first Beanpot as a coach in 2017 with a 6-3 victory over BU.
Parker, York and Madigan were the three most successful player/coaches at their respective institutions. Donato had to prepare the Crimson to face all three from 2011 to 2013 and Madigan and York until last February.
“That was what was unique, you had great people that were players and coaches that felt a great connection to their university,” said Donato.
The New Guard
Keefe is the only one of the four coaches who did not compete in the Beanpot as a player. But Keefe was schooled in the ways and means of Hockey East as a four-year player at Providence College. Keefe is second in seniority even though he has been a head coach for just two Beanpot games.
BC and BU have first-year coaches who played for their respective schools. Greg Brown played four seasons at BC and was York’s assistant for 14 more after an NHL career. Jay Pandolfo won two Beanpots as a player (1995-1996) and was an assistant at BU for the Terriers win last season. After an extensive NHL career primarily with the New Jersey Devils, Pandolfo was a member of Bruce Cassidy’s staff with the Bruins from 2016 to 2021.
“I grew up going to the Beanpot but I never thought of myself standing behind the bench one day, let alone being a head coach,” said Keefe. “It is pretty neat that Brownie and Jay are in their first years and not like I’m a veteran, this is my second year.
“But it’s pretty neat and once in a while it’s good to put it into perspective just how fortunate you are to be a head coach at a Beanpot school.”
A Garden Party
The story of the Beanpot is broken down into two testaments, the Old Garden and the New Garden. Harvard beat BU 7-4 in the first Beanpot title game on Dec. 26, 1952, but that game was played at Boston Arena, which is currently Northeastern’s Matthews Arena.
BC beat Harvard 4-1 on Jan. 11, 1953, in the first title game at Boston Garden….
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