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Ted Donato has coaches Harvard for 18 seasons.


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. The Beanpot run would proceed unabated until 2021, when the tournament was cancelled because of the global pandemic. The Beanpot transitioned from the old Garden to the new Garden when the current venue went online on Sept. 30, 1995.

No Beanpot player of any generation had a bigger footprint in both the old and new Gardens than Donato, who would compete in both venues for Catholic Memorial High School, Harvard and the Boston Bruins.

Donato took his place on the pantheon of elite Mass. high school hockey players while winning state titles at CM under Hall of Fame coach William “Wild Bill” Hanson, a bombastic son of South Boston who played scholastically at Boston Technical.

After finishing up at Harvard and representing the United States in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, Donato began his 13-year pro career with the Bruins. Donato, a Boston kid from Hyde Park, was taken by the Bruins with the 87th overall pick in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Donato would play eight seasons with the Bruins and he wore the Spoked B in both Gardens.

“I played in the last game at the old Garden and the first game in the new Garden,” said Donato. “Being a Boston kid, whether it was high school or college it was all about getting to the Garden.

“Getting to the Garden was the term you heard and we still use it with our team now. The goal is to get to the Garden and play for a Beanpot championship. With the Beanpot it is a little different because you are playing in the Garden every year and it never gets old.

“Even the seniors, when they step out onto the Garden ice on Monday, they will look like little kids when they take it all in. Then you’ll see the freshman and for them it’s ‘wow’ this is what it is really like.”

Keefe played at the old Garden for Matignon High School and in the new Garden in the Hockey East tournament semifinals with Providence College. Keefe was at Madigan’s side at the Beanpot from 2011 to 2021.

Pandolfo participated in the Garden crossover in the mid 90s. He played his first three seasons in the old house and participated in the first Beanpot at the new house. The Garden was known as the Fleet Center when it first opened. Pandolfo’s consecutive victories, one in the old and one in the new, were the beginning of BU’s historic run of six straight.

“It was fun playing in both,” said Pandolfo. “But the atmosphere in the old Garden was incredible and it would be tough to replicate the way that place was set up.

“The fans were right on top of you with the balcony being over the ice. But to be able to open a new building with the Beanpot was pretty exciting for us.

“The first time playing the Beanpot at the new Garden was a lot of fun and I have good memories. It was pretty cool to be part of the last one at the old Garden and the first one at the new Garden. “


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