Auditions for the role of starting goaltender came to an end last Thursday, when Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker officially tabbed freshman Kieran Millan as his No. 1 netminder over classmate Grant Rollheiser. If this weekend was any indication, don’t expect any regrets about that decision anytime soon.
The rookie from Edmonton, Alberta, who bolstered his Hockey East Rookie of the Year candidacy in the No. 2 Terriers’ convincing victories against Merrimack College and No. 14 Boston College on Friday and Saturday, respectively, continues to be a source of stability for a BU team that is 12-1-1 when Millan mans the net.
‘He’s cool, calm and collected,’ Parker said of Hockey East’s Goaltender of the Month for December after Saturday’s 5-2 win over BC at Agganis Arena. ‘I’ve come to expect that from him. It’s almost like he’s John Curry for me now. If somebody scores a goal on him I’m surprised, like ‘How did that happen?”
Sparkling statistics such as a 1.64 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and nation-best .893 winning percentage only scratch the surface of Millan’s importance to the Terriers. His most impressive attribute? Poise beyond his years that allows teammates to take more risks on the ice, knowing their 19-year-old backstop with the lightning-quick glove is more than capable of bailing them out with a jaw-dropping save.
‘Kieran makes it seem calm,’ senior co-captain Matt Gilroy said. ‘Just the way he his, his personality and his quiet confidence between the pipes just calms the team down. It’s a nice feeling. We went down 1-0 [Saturday], but we knew Kieran was gonna be there for us the whole game. It lifts the whole bench up and he carries our team. He’s only a freshman, but it’s amazing how calm he is back there.’
‘From day one, Kieran Millan’s looked like he’s playing a pickup game in the pond,’ Parker said. ‘Nothing rattles him, like ‘We’re supposed to be having fun here. I’m playing goal and it’s a nice crowd against our archrival. We’ll have fun with this.’ He’s been like that from day one, and he keeps everybody else on an even keel.’
Friday’s 4-1 victory at Lawler Arena was marred by 97 penalty minutes, 50 of which came in the third period with the outcome of the game all but decided.
Two-minute boarding penalties assessed to Merrimack sophomore defenseman Fraser Allan and freshman forward Ryan Flanigan for hits on BU senior forward Chris Higgins and Gilroy, respectively, drew the ire of Parker, who took the officiating of the Hockey East Association to task in his postgame press conference.
‘I think the players should be protected and I haven’t seen it done all year,’ Parker said. ‘The last five games we’ve had major penalties with guys hitting guys right between the numbers. There doesn’t seem to be any consequence for people who do that. Our two guys got cold-cocked on vicious run-ins by the opposition. No [expletive] need for it whatsoever, and yet they got two-minute minors.’
Higgins, who sustained a concussion and received six stitches in his head, did not play Saturday and will undergo tests this week to determine his availability for BU’s home-and-home series against the No. 11/12 University of New Hampshire this coming weekend. Gilroy, whom Parker ruled out for the BC tilt Friday night before the defenseman was cleared to play Saturday afternoon by trainer Larry Venis, suffered a dislocated right shoulder and chest bruises.
National Hockey League Hall of Famer and Boston Bruins legend Ray Bourque attended Friday’s game at Lawler Arena. ‘hellip; The America East Conference champion men’s and women’s soccer teams were honored during the second intermission of Saturday’s game. ‘hellip; Gilroy, sophomore forward Colin Wilson and senior forward Brandon Yip were nominated for the 2009 Hobey Baker Award last week. The Terrier trio will appear on the preliminary fan ballot, which can be accessed at hobeybaker.com, through March 8. ‘hellip; BU’s last Hobey Baker winner, 1998 recipient Chris Drury, was chosen as Hockey East’s Best Defensive Forward last Thursday in a vote conducted by fans and members of the league’s 25th Anniversary Committee.