Tom Caron has spent 25 years with the New England Sports Network, primarily working on-set as a pregame and postgame host during Boston Red Sox games.
When the Northeast freezes over, though, Caron trades Fenway Park for the collegiate rinks around the area, serving as NESN’s first-choice broadcaster for college hockey play-by-play.
To Caron, while baseball may be where he developed his reputation around New England, hockey has grown into a love that extends from his job to his family.
“My kids both played youth hockey and hockey in high school,” said the Maine native. “I love the energy, I love the passion.”
“I love the pro game – they’re the greatest players on the planet – but on any Friday or Saturday night, you know, give me an arena with 6,000, 7,000 people and the bands playing … I just love the energy.”
Having traveled around the region all winter at the mercy of the NESN broadcast schedule, Caron is gearing up for the only constant of his hockey season. For two weeks in February, he knows the teams, the venue, and the history better than anyone.
The 68th Beanpot is about to begin, and Tom Caron can’t wait.
“So much changes in Boston … and yet this thing endures,’ he said of the storied tournament. “[TD Garden planner] Steve Nazro … once said that the beauty of the Beanpot is you can look 20 years down the road and know who’s playing who.”
“I just love the tradition, I love what it means to the four schools, and I love the excitement of the games,” he continued. “This is [the players’] chance to shine in an NHL arena where they hope to play someday and I just really think that’s what makes the Beanpot special.”
As he eagerly anticipates the tournament’s opening puck drop at the TD Garden, Caron believes that the 68th Beanpot has the makings for another unforgettable February.
“We always say how open it is, and you don’t have to go far to look,” he said. “For the first time ever, Northeastern and Harvard have won the last three Beanpots. That’s never happened, that BU and BC went three years without winning one.”
The Eagles and Terriers will square off in the prime-time slot of the first round this year, and Caron feels that the 281st meeting between the historic rivals could be a classic.
“I think BU – such a young team with 11 freshmen – they’re the kind of team you worry about at the end of the year,” Caron said. “BC’s one of the best teams in the nation, [though], so they’ll have their hands full.”
When the championship game’s final buzzer sounds on February 10, Caron will proclaim the winner of the coveted trophy to viewers across New England and the country. In his eyes, though, this title means more than just bragging rights around the city.
Caron is confident that whoever hoists the Beanpot this year will get a major boost as they launch into the final sprint of the regular season.
“It really is the beginning of the stretch run for these teams for their conference and NCAA aspirations,” he said.
The 68th Beanpot tournament – and Caron’s 16th – begins on Monday, February 3 with Harvard vs. Northeastern at 5 p.m. and Boston University vs. Boston College at 8 p.m.