Former North­eastern goal­tender Brad Thiessen just signed a two-​​year con­tract with the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins this April, but he’s already expe­ri­enced pro hockey’s most exhil­a­rating moment.

Thiessen, the 2009 Hockey East Player of the Year, raced onto the ice for the cel­e­bra­tion after the Pen­guins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last Friday.

The standout col­lege net­minder, who was a playoff call-​​up for the Pen­guins, had the oppor­tu­nity to hoist the Stanley Cup trophy in front of more than 20,000 people at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. Pen­guins star Sidney Crosby, widely regarded as the most tal­ented offen­sive player in the National Hockey League, per­son­ally passed the Cup to Thiessen.

It was a sur­real expe­ri­ence,” Thiessen says. “Sid asked if I’d had the Cup yet, then he said, ‘Here, take it.’”

Thiessen was called up from the Wilkes-​​Barre/​Scranton Pen­guins of the Amer­ican Hockey League at the begin­ning of Pittsburgh’s second-​​round playoff series against the Wash­ington Cap­i­tals. He prac­ticed with the club, playing goal against the likes of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who tal­lied 36 points in 24 playoff games, earning the post­season MVP award.

It was a little bit of an eye-​​opening expe­ri­ence playing against two of the best players in the world,” Thiessen says. “They know exactly where to go. They have that instinct, that shooter’s touch.”

He received goal­tending advice from Marc-​​Andre Fleury, the Pen­guins’ tal­ented young starter, whom Thiessen calls one of the “nicest guys” he’s met. “Fleury told me to be calm,” he explains. “At the NHL level, it’s more about being in posi­tion. If you’re caught out of posi­tion, guys will pick you apart. It’s hard some­times when you have 18,000 fans yelling, but you can’t worry about that.”

This past col­le­giate season, Thiessen enjoyed one of the most suc­cessful cam­paigns of any goal­tender in North­eastern his­tory. The junior set school records in every major cat­e­gory, including wins (25), goals against average (2.12), save per­centage (.931), saves (1,195), games (41) and min­utes (2,495:44). He is Northeastern’s career leader in goals against average (2.40), save per­centage (.922) and shutouts (nine).

He’s excited for training camp to start next fall, even if he’s not sure how his rookie season will shake out. “I’ll go to camp and see what hap­pens,” he says. “I’ll most likely be in the AHL next year, get­ting expe­ri­ence and playing games. I’ll go from there.”