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Strong finish, promising future for Huskies

For Northeastern men’s hockey coach Jim Madigan, DMSB’86, success of this past season provides reason to look ahead.

During a turbulent stretch in which the Northeastern men’s hockey team won just once in its first 14 games to start the 2015-16 season, head coach Jim Madigan acknowledged his players confidence may have been shaken.

“It’s hard to buy in when you get off to a start like that,” said Madigan, DMSB’86, who in March completed his fifth season as Huskies coach. “I just told the players, ‘Don’t worry about the record, just take it one game at a time and trust the process.’

“Things started to come together and you could see their confidence building. In the second to last week of the [regular] season we got a game over .500, but our approach never changed. They were a great group of guys.”

And a season that started horrifically had a rather magical – and historic – conclusion. The Huskies may have lost to eventual national champion North Dakota in the opening round of the NCAA Midwest Regional, but they captured their first Hockey East Championship since 1988 and won 13 of their final 14 games.

“I’m really thrilled for them,” said Madigan, who will throw the ceremonial first pitch before the July 26 Red Sox-Detroit Tigers game at Fenway Park. “We won three games in the first four months of the season and then won eight straight weekend series, beat [Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals], and then Lowell, which had won the title two of the last three years.

“They took me and the [assistant] coaches for quite a ride.”

But seeing his team turn its season around is only one factor in why Madigan, a three-time Beanpot champion, loves his job.

“It really goes beyond hockey,” said Madigan, who won Beanpot titles with Northeastern both as a player (1984 and ’85) and an assistant coach (1988). “As a coaching staff, we do all we can to put them in a position to succeed, not only on the ice but in the classroom and in the community.”

“We have to earn the players’ trust and that takes time. They know what’s expected of them and that they will be held accountable. But the bond you build with the players and the bonds they build with each other are special.”

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published July 2016