By Joe Connor
When Sahir Gill played youth hockey at Terrace Arena, he dreamed of suiting up in National Hockey League arenas and before big crowds.
It’s now a reality for the Terrace native – the arenas that is, not the NHL (at least not yet).
The junior forward at U.S. college hockey powerhouse, Boston University (BU), will participate in his third “Beanpot” tournament in early February.
The event is played before sold-out crowds of more than 17,000 at TD Garden in Boston, home to the NHL Bruins, and features the City of Boston’s four college hockey schools – BU, Boston College (BC), Northeastern and Harvard.
The “Beanpot” name comes from the city’s nickname, “Beantown,” which originated in Colonial days where baked beans became popular.
“You just get so excited to play that,” said Gill, a 5-foot-10, 178-pounder that shoots left, of the tournament. “If you lose the first game, you don’t really give yourself a shot to win it.”
Last year, the Terriers lost to their top Hockey East conference competitor and arch-rival, Boston College, in the Beanpot final, 3-2 in overtime.
The year before, BC dropped BU in overtime in the first round by the same score.
This season, the defending national champions have already won two of three games from BU.
“It’s a great, storied rivalry,” Gill explained. “You’ve got two schools located on the same street in Boston. That would be who we would want to see in the (Beanpot) final. We’re looking for revenge.”
As for Gill, he’s also looking for a better second half to the season for the No. 7 ranked Terriers, which have won as many national titles (five) as BC.
Through 15 games, Gill has posted just two goals and four assists, a far cry from his freshman and sophomore campaigns in which he was among the team’s top scorers.
But Gill remains confident, noting his strong second half a year ago, including earning Hockey East “Top Performer” honors five different times from January to March.
“It was a frustrating first half this year,” he said. “I want to put up some points. It’s been a slow start. I want to be among the elite group of players in (Hockey East).”
Trailing BC by two games in the Hockey East standings, and with the Beanpot looming in the new year, Gill certainly doesn’t need any motivation.
Joe Connor is a freelance sports writer who travels extensively to arenas all over the world. You can visit him online at www.mrsportstravel.com.