First-​​year head coach Jim Madigan wants the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity men’s hockey team to take a page out of the play­book of the Stanley Cup Cham­pion Boston Bruins.

The North­eastern alumnus and three-​​time Beanpot champ knows a thing or two about win­ning. “We want to put pres­sure on the puck and be aggres­sive and hard to play against,” he says.

Cap­tain Mike McLaughlin, a 5-​​foot-​​9-​​inch senior for­ward who scored 11 goals and chipped in four assists last season, agrees with his new coach. “Our team’s greatest strength is our work ethic,” he explains. “We’re a hard-​​nosed team that pur­sues pucks and doesn’t try to com­pli­cate things.”


The team opens the reg­ular season on Friday night, when it faces off against the Uni­ver­sity of Mass­a­chu­setts at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena.

The Huskies, who fin­ished in sixth place in Hockey East last season, hope to improve on their middle-​​of-​​the-​​pack per­for­mance without their top four scorers from the 2010–2011 cam­paign. The quadru­plet accounted for 57 of the team’s 108 goals.

Madigan says junior for­wards Steve Quailer, Justin Daniels and Vinny Saponari — a transfer from Boston Uni­ver­sity — have the offen­sive pluck to pick up the goal-​​scoring slack. 

As he puts it, “We have tal­ented players on the roster who have demon­strated the ability to pro­duce offense, but they just haven’t done it at the same time.”

Two of the six incoming freshmen — 6-​​foot-​​2-​​inch, 193 pound for­ward Ludwig Karlsson and 6-​​foot-​​3-​​inch, 205 pound defenseman Josh Manson — figure to make an imme­diate impact from the blue line and in front of the net.

“Those two guys will con­tribute right away,” Madigan says, “but all six players had a solid pre­season.”

Junior goalie Chris Rawl­ings, who had a 2.68 goals-​​against average, a .920 save per­centage and five shutouts in 35 games last season, may have to carry the club on his 6-​​foot-​​5-​​inch frame.

“Rawl­ings has shown his ability to win big games at the end of the season like he did last year,” Madigan says.

“Having a good goalie is vital to any team, whether they can score or not,” McLaughlin adds. “You can always lose an 8–6 game.”

The red and black are sched­uled to play 18 games against teams cur­rently posi­tioned in the top 20, including the No. 1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. But the dif­fi­cult schedule doesn’t faze the club’s coaches or players.

“The fact that top teams in the country want to play North­eastern is a reflec­tion of where our pro­gram is,” Madigan says. “Our goal is to get better and better each week.”

McLaughlin just wants the puck to drop on the reg­ular season. “I’m excited to see what the guys can do,” he says.