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Northeastern faces BU for Beanpot bragging rights

The third-ranked Northeastern men’s hockey team will play for itsfifth Beanpot title and first since 1988 when it faces No.1 Boston University at the TD BankNorth Garden on Monday night in the 57th annual Beanpot Tournament Championship.

After a dominating first-round 6-1 victory over No. 12 Boston College, Northeastern coaches, fans and former players discussed the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming game.

“The Beanpot is not just an athletic must,” said associate dean and director of development in the College of Business Administration Jim Madigan, who won the Beanpot as a player for Northeastern in 1984 and 1985 and as an assistant coach in 1988. “It is a social must for all of the Boston community. It has a larger than life appeal.”

Northeastern hockey coach Greg Cronin acknowledged his players were nervous during the first few shifts against Boston College. He said the significance of the Beanpot weighs on their minds. “When you have that type of pressure and you’re on that type of stage, it becomes a mental battle before the game is even played,” said Cronin. “When you get on the ice at the start of the game, you want to feel confident in your ability to win.”

Boston University’s confidence is buoyed by 28 Beanpot titles. “They have an edge, whether we want to accept it or not,” said Cronin. “Their believability to win this tournament is in their genes.”

To counter Boston University’s experience, Northeastern will rely on its potent offense led by senior forward Ryan Ginand, the team’s active leader with seven points in five career Beanpot games, and hope for another outstanding performance from junior goalie Brad Thiessen, who saved 45 of 46 shots against Boston College.

“Brad is one of the best goalies in the country,” said Cronin. “There’s a lot of pressure on him, but that’s why he’s wearing the big goalie pads.”

Pharmacy major Timothy Fouche foresees a high-scoring, nerve-wracking match ending in a 5-4 Huskies win.

“I have a feeling this one’s going to be a back and forth shootout,” said Fouche, an avid follower of Northeastern hockey since he attended a raucous October 2005 game against Boston College at a sold-out Matthews Arena. “Both teams can put the puck in the net. Teams will trade goals, Northeastern will hold off rush after rush for the last six minutes of the game, giving me a heart attack in the process.”

Madigan, who noted that Northeastern’s work ethic, determination and strong goaltending resemble that of his 1982 squad who reached the Frozen Four, spoke of his multiple Beanpot victories.

“When you win, it’s hard to process it,” he said. “The rush of adrenaline that goes through you is incredible. The next day I was walking around campus five feet off the ground.”

Northeastern has a chance this season to win its first Hockey East title. The Huskiesbeat Merrimack 4-3 at Matthews Arena on Friday.

The Beanpot championship game can be seen on NESN at 8 PM tonight.

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