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Hockey Mania to kick off Terriers’ season with Miracle screening, giveaways

3,000 Maniacs?

Like the inaugural hockey game at Agganis Arena on January 3 (above), in which BU defeated Minnesota, 2-1, there are sure to be plenty of scarlet and white jerseys — and faces — in the crowd at Hockey Mania on Saturday, October 1. Photo by Vernon Doucette

“Go BU!”

There’s something invigorating about hearing more than 1,500 people chant that phrase at the start of the first practice of the men’s hockey season. Now imagine listening to twice as many voices shout it out.

It should happen on Saturday, October 1, when Hockey Mania hits Agganis Arena. Melissa Grace, the venue’s marketing and promotions coordinator, is hoping for a crowd of 3,000 students, faculty, and staff, but even more fans could show up because of the 6 p.m. starting time — a far more convenient hour than the Midnight Mania sessions of the past.

Midnight on October 1 is the first minute the NCAA officially allows a college hockey team to practice with its coach. Years ago, the rule prompted practices beginning at 12:01 a.m. that evolved into major fan events and included entertainment. But the tradition had its drawbacks, especially for those early risers who couldn’t attend, not to mention drowsy spectators — and athletes.

“The team used to get really tired,” says Grace. “The players weren’t going to bed until two in the morning.” The department of athletics and Coach Jack Parker agreed that a 6 p.m. first practice made more sense. With the planning involvement of Agganis Arena management, Boston University’s Friends of Hockey group and the Dean of Students Office, Hockey Mania was born.

Hockey Mania will feature all the promotions of the Midnight Manias of yore — including free T-shirts (for the first 2,000 fans), free food, a skills competition among players, and a scrimmage. But this year’s event features more activities. Students will be able to skate with the team at 7:30 p.m. Prizes include an Apple iPod and a $100 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble.

An added bonus will be the screening of the 2003 movie Miracle on the arena’s four giant full-color LED video screens on the center-hung scoreboard. The film chronicles the successful quest for gold of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, which included former Terriers Mike Eruzione (SED’77), Jim Craig (SED’79), Jack O’Callahan (CAS’79), and David Silk (CAS’80, GSM’93).

“We wanted to attract more people this year,” says Grace.

And if a bigger — and louder — crowd doesn’t result in a more fired-up hockey team, a saner practice time surely will.

For more information, visit www.bu.edu/phpbin/news-cms/news/?dept=38&id=36488.