USA Hockey Magazine

March 2017

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S PRACTICE WAS WINDING DOWN on a Thursday afternoon i n e a r l y Fe b r u a r y, a g r o u p o f Babson College hockey players— like most college students, for that matter—demonstrate a youthful exuberance that often occurs when the weekend is in sight. But this isn't just any weekend. On Friday night, Babson is hosting the No. 1 ranked Norwich University. The Cadets are not just a big rival, but also the annual measuring stick in the New England Hockey Conference. On Sunday, the New England Patriots would play in Super Bowl LI, a polarizing event in the locker room, which is divided almost evenly between players who grew up in this region praying at the altar of Tom Brady and those who didn't. "I've learned to love them," admits junior forward Charlie Ackerman, who moved from Florida to nearby Needham, Mass., when he was 16. "It was tough being a Buccaneers fan in Florida, where the games were blacked out because they wouldn't get enough fans." T h e d a y a f t e r t h e S u p e r B ow l , h a l f a n hour up the Mass. Pike at TD Garden, the a n n u a l B e a n p ot To u r n a m e n t o p e n e d , a midseason event featuring Boston's four D i v. I p o w e r h o u s e p r o g r a m s — B o s t o n University, Boston College, Harvard and N o r t h e a s t e r n — p l a y i n g t w o r o u n d s o f knockout on consecutive Mondays. Among the Babson players, those Mondays are a little bittersweet. Many grew up pic- turing themselves one day playing in the Beanpot. But they won't ignore it, either. "You'd be naive not to," says Babson coach Jamie Rice, who grew up in Newton and starred at Babson in the late 1980s. "I was a part of it [coaching at] Northeastern. I grew up rooting for BU. The first 17 years of my life, I dreamed of playing in the Beanpot." It may not be the upper echelon of the college game, but few Div. III teams have achieved as much in recent years as Babson, whose players aren't on athletic scholarships and whose rink on game nights is populated with hundreds of fans, not thousands. Since 2012-13, the Beavers own a record of 91-31-16. They've won two conference titles, reached three conference championship games and played in two NCAA tournaments, both times coming up one win short of the Frozen Four. MARCH 2017 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 19 All In By MIKE ZHE A Players Competing At The Div. III Level Demonstrate The Same Dedication And Commitment As Their Div. I Counterparts PHOTOS BY Ryan Feeney

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