With the University of Maine on the power play at the end of the second period Saturday night, Black Bear forward Kyle Beattie managed to get a last-second shot on net from just outside the crease.
Boston University freshman goaltender Sean Maguire closed his pads as the buzzer went off, and turned his head to look in the goal. No puck.
Then he opened his pads. Puck.
It was Maguire’s 21st save on a night he recorded a perfect 28 en route to No. 7 BU’s 1–0 win over visiting Maine, his second straight shut out. The first came in the only other home game of his young college career, a 4–0 victory over St. Lawrence University on Nov. 24.
“I was really happy for Sean Maguire,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “Back-to-back shutouts in front of the home crowd and he was really poised in net.”
The consecutive whitewashes are part of a longer stretch in which Maguire has not allowed a goal in more than 130 minutes, dating back to the third period against the University of Vermont on Nov. 16.
In his last four games Maguire has put up a .956 save percentage and a 1.26 goals-against average.
In other words, one outlier — an embarrassing Oct. 20 loss to the University of New Hampshire in which he allowed four goals in half the game — is the only thing from preventing Maguire (.930 save percentage, 2.00 goals-against average in five games) from having a very impressive first semester.
Parker, who attributed the UNH blowout somewhat to the goalie’s nerves while making his collegiate debut, said Maguire has come a long way since then.
“He’s fallen into who he is now,” Parker said. “The UNH game to kick off the season for him really put him back on his heels a little bit to start with.
“But now he’s recovered from that pretty nicely and when he went out and played as well as he did against North Dakota even though he lost that game, he played very, very well and came up with some big saves,” Parker added. “I think that was enough to get him settled down.”
Saturday’s win over Maine (2–11–2, 1–7–2 Hockey East) may have been Maguire’s most impressive performance yet. He gave up a few big rebounds in the slot, but it never came back to bite him, and he kept Maine silent while BU (10–5, 8–4 Hockey East) had trouble controlling the pace of the game for the final 50 minutes.
Parker is a believer that strong goaltending is a key to a successful penalty kill, and at the end of the third period Maguire gave the Terriers just that.
Senior forward Ben Rosen got a five-minute major penalty for boarding with 5:32 left to play, and BU successfully killed it thanks in part to Maguire, who stopped all three shots he faced.
“[Maine] frustrated us a lot tonight and I think Sean Maguire came up huge,” said junior defenseman Garrett Noonan, who scored the only goal of the game 7:13 into the first period.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead, who has run the Black Bears since the 2001–02 season and has seen the likes of Sean Fields, John Curry and Kieran Millan in BU’s net, was also impressed with Maguire.
“He was great,” Whitehead said. “Certainly any time a freshman can come in and pitch a shutout and face some of the quality shots he did [it’s good]. I thought he played really well. I was very impressed.”
Maguire is going to have to wait at least three more weeks before he plays again, as will the rest of the Terriers. But when BU returns to action on Dec. 29 — the beginning of a 12-day span in which it will play Denver, RIT and Harvard — Maguire and fellow freshman Matt O’Connor may be splitting time in net.
It would be a return to the plan Parker had before the season started, a plan to have the goalies platoon. O’Connor (.931 save percentage, 2.22 goals-against average) got off to a hot start, so that did not actually happen. O’Connor started 10 of BU’s 15 contests, and the longest stretch during which the netminders went every other game was four.
Headed into the second half, Parker may have exactly what he hoped for at the beginning of October: a tight fight to be the number one goalie.
“It’s nice to have two really good-looking goalies out there,” Parker said. “They’re both very confident, they’re both pushing each other and they’re both rooting for each other.
“I’m sure they’re both feeling pretty good about their first half,” Parker added.