Ice Hockey, Sports

The Opening Act

Two games into the season, it appears the Boston University men’s hockey team might again have another goalie problem. But unlike last year, when the Terriers were plagued by inconsistent play between the pipes, the problem might be deciding which freshman goaltender to start.
Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser each performed admirably in net over the weekend, allowing one goal apiece as BU beat the No. 5 University of North Dakota and No. 11 Michigan State University to win the Ice Breaker Invitational at Agganis Arena.
Entering the opening weekend of the regular season, Millan and Rollheiser had limited opportunities to get accustomed to the collegiate level. A few weeks of practice and an exhibition game against the University of New Brunswick ‘-‘- in which they split time in net ‘-‘- served as their introduction to BU hockey.
Though they were thrown into the fire quickly against two nationally ranked teams, both goalies held their own and demonstrated they are ready to compete for the starting gig.
‘They both showed they can play goalie and that helps us out a lot on defense,’ senior co-captain Matt Gilroy said. ‘Those two freshmen goalies came to play, and thank God they came to play.’
Millan was the first of the pair to get his shot on the ice, starting against North Dakota in Friday’s 5-1 drubbing. He looked sure of himself in net, making 22 saves – no small feat for a first-timer. The Fighting Sioux did not have many quality chances to score, but that was largely due to Millan coming out of the net to cut off angles and force his opponents to take bad shots.
While Millan’s positioning and a consistent defensive effort to keep the puck out of the zone meant that many of his 22 saves were garden variety, one save in the third period will surely be on his highlight reel.
Halfway through the final frame, with the Terriers up 4-1, the Fighting Sioux broke into the zone with a 2-on-1 opportunity. Freshman Ben Blood skated up the left-side boards and sent a pass into the slot to senior Matt Watkins, who settled the puck and sent a hard wrist shot toward the right post. Millan moved quickly to his left and snagged the shot with his glove, inspiring the crowd to chant, ‘That was awesome.’
‘It gives you a lot of confidence knowing that you have someone back there who can make a big save like he did in the third period,’ sophomore defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. ‘Maybe that puck goes in, maybe they get a little momentum. He stops them right there and kind of turns the game around for us.’
BU coach Jack Parker wasn’t ready to anoint Millan the next John Curry, but he was satisfied with his performance.
‘One snowflake doesn’t make a blizzard, but I thought he looked like a goalie,’ Parker said. ‘He just stands there and you hit him. He’s never really flopping all over the place.’
Millan’s lone weakness Friday was failing to corral shots and prevent rebounds. North Dakota’s goal came off a wide rebound that left Millan out of position, and the Sioux watched three other rebounds get swept away by BU defensemen to prevent second-chance opportunities.
Saturday was Rollheiser’s turn to show what he could do, and he helped the Terriers back up Friday’s success with a 2-1 win over Michigan State. Another tight defensive effort limited the Spartans to 13 shots on goal, although they had five power-play opportunities.
The lone Spartan goal came on a power-play shot from the point by sophomore Jeff Petry. While Rollheiser finished without any spectacular saves, he stopped the shots he needed to for the Terriers to hold onto their lead.
BU opened the weekend hoping stiff competition would result in at least one goalie stepping up and announcing himself as the starter. But with each freshman taking one victorious turn in net, it’s going to take some time before a decision is made.
‘We think we have two good ones. We thought we had two good ones before this weekend, and we don’t feel any differently now,’ Parker said.

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