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Huskies set for Beanpot showdown

Photo by Jim Pierce.

This season, the Northeastern University men’s hockey team has secured impressive road victories over nationally ranked Michigan, Minnesota and Notre Dame. But the team has struggled against Hockey East opponents, compiling only seven wins in 20 games.

Tonight, Northeastern will have a chance to avenge three one-goal losses to No. 5 Boston College when the Hockey East rivals face off in the semifinal round of the 60th annual Men’s Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden at 8 p.m. The winner of the game, which will be televised on NESN, will play for the Beanpot Tournament Championship on Feb. 13.

Prior to the matchup, head coach Jim Madigan preached the importance of playing hard-nosed hockey until the final horn. Taking bad penalties or turning over the puck in the defensive zone against a national championship-caliber team like Boston College, he said, would almost certainly hamper the Huskies’ chances of claiming their fifth Beanpot title and first since 1988.

“We have to play a full 60 minutes against good teams,” said Madigan, a Northeastern alumnus and three-time Beanpot champ who knows a thing or two about winning. “We can’t afford to have any letdowns.”

Captain Mike McLaughlin, a 5-foot-9-inch forward who has four goals and eight assists in 20 games, agreed with his coach. As he put it, “They have a very potent offense and take advantage of mistakes, so we have to limit their opportunities.”

Madigan said a Beanpot championship, which is almost as much about bragging rights as it is about positioning in Hockey East, could jumpstart a deep run through the conference playoffs, which begin in early March.

“It would be a huge momentum boost for the rest of the season,” he noted.

McLaughlin, the only senior on the team, has but one more shot to hoist the Beanpot trophy. “You dream about winning it,” he said.

After the Beanpot Tournament, the Huskies will play the final seven games of the regular season against Hockey East opponents, six of which include back-to-back contests with Maine, Providence and Boston University.

Madigan expects his tough-luck squad, which has lost six one-goal games this season, to be focused and prepared to win the most meaningful games of the year. “When the puck drops, the team will be relaxed and play with confidence,” he promised.