Ice Hockey, Sports

New Kids on the Block

In the disappointment that was last season, the Terriers were plagued by shoddy goaltending, a key factor in the team’s perpetual state of unrest. Sophomore Brett Bennett, playing in the shadow of departed All-American John Curry, was unable to deliver consistency in net and finished with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage, the worst mark in Hockey East. A year removed from the issues of the 2007-08 campaign – especially a lack of trust in the last line of defense – BU turns to a pair of freshmen netminders to provide stability between the pipes.
After a year of soft goals and frustrating inconsistency, the Terriers don’t expect first-year goalies Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser to stop every shot. But the youngsters will be counted on to keep BU within striking distance from start to finish and allow a talented group of forwards to do damage up front.
‘We’re expecting good goaltending,’ BU coach Jack Parker said. ‘We don’t have to have spectacular goaltending, but we need solid goaltending. And somebody will be able to give us that from this crew, maybe more than one guy.’
Millan and Rollheiser will be joined on the roster by sophomore Adam Kraus, who started two games for the Terriers last season, posting a 1-1-0 record and a 4.04 goals-against average and a save percentage of .857. Kraus will likely serve as a mentor for the two young Terriers, as well as a challenge to them for playing time. Judging by the first weekend of the season, in which Millan started Friday’s game and Rollheiser got the nod Saturday, the job is up for grabs between the two rookies.
Parker said he is prepared to give the situation time to settle itself before committing to a plan of attack.
‘Who will wind up the number one guy? I don’t know. Will there be a number one guy or two guys or one and one-A? I have no idea,’ Parker said. ‘It won’t be a three-man rotation. I know that.’
Though Millan and Rollheiser need to learn the nuances of the college game as they compete for the potential starting role for a Top-10 team, both enter the program as seasoned performers who should adjust well to the collegiate level.
Millan spent two seasons protecting the net for the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he was a 2007 All-Star and was named to the All-Rookie Team in 2006-07. Rollheiser played between the pipes for the Trail Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Hockey League before coming to BU. After posting a GAA of 3.19, he was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year before being the first collegiate goaltender selected in the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
Goaltending styles are often quite similar, with most goalies opting for the butterfly approach to keep pucks in front of them. But Millan’s game is more focused on positioning, cutting off angles and forcing opponents into bad shots.
‘[Millan] is a stand-up, hit-me type of goalie,’ Parker said. ‘He’s real good at being out and making sure that he’s got his angles. And he’s a pretty good pillow, too. It hits him and it doesn’t bounce everywhere, it falls at his feet.’
In his first game between the pipes for the Terriers – last Friday against the University of North Dakota – the team got its first look at Millan’s approach in net. Fighting Sioux forwards were turned away 22 times in BU’s 5-1 victory, as Millan used strong positioning to keep them from finding daylight. Millan said he is just fine with splitting time to start the season.
In fact, he invites the competition.
‘It’s a lot better for the team knowing that each of us are going to perform at the best to get our ice time. It’s a good situation for all of us,’ Millan said.
Rollheiser – a classic butterfly-style goalie who is comfortable playing deep in the net, taking away openings on the ice and relying on glove work – will give BU’s coaches a very different option to look at. His 6-foot-4 frame gives him a big body to work with in the crease. He said he compares with another tall goalie, 21-year-old Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
‘I’ve got size, so I can use that to my advantage to get in front of the puck when I’m out there,’ Rollheiser said. ‘My style is just to try to get in front of the puck and take it off the floor and control rebounds.’
Rollheiser picked up his first collegiate win against Michigan State University last Saturday, giving up just one goal while making 12 saves in a 2-1 victory.
It may take a little while for the situation to shake out if both goalies continue to perform, but ultimately they both agree the competition will force them to learn and improve. And though a lack of experience may take time to overcome, Parker said there is one big difference from last season that gives the Terriers reason to be optimistic.
‘We have more talent this year.’

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