Ice Hockey, Sports

Millan’s strong play goes unrewarded in 3-2 loss

The No. 15 Boston University men’s hockey team scored two goals early in the third to give themselves a chance to tie things up against No. 13 Merrimack College on Tuesday night, and the biggest reason the Terriers had that chance was the play of junior goalie Kieran Millan.

“I thought Kieran Millan played great,” said BU coach Jack Parker.

The Edmonton, Alberta native made one spectacular save after another to keep his team in the game. With Merrimack already leading 1-0 midway through the first, Millan robbed freshman forward Mike Collins with a big glove save on a 2-on-1.

In the second, Millan flashed even more leather – first on a slapper from the right wing by sophomore forward Stephane Da Costa, then on a one-timer by junior defenseman Karl Stollery on the power play.

But it was in the third that Millan shone the brightest. Just in the first two minutes, he made two more huge glove saves on freshman defenseman Jordan Heywood and senior defenseman Fraser Allan to keep the score 3-0.

A couple minutes after BU pulled within one, Millan stoned sophomore forward Brandon Brodhag with a stick save on a breakaway. Then, with the Warriors on a late power play, he just got his blocker on a point-blank chance off the stick of junior forward Jesse Todd.

Millan has now turned in four strong performances in a row after giving up six goals in a loss to Brown University on New Year’s Day. Parker had enough confidence in his goalie to throw him right back out there the next night against No. 8 University of Notre Dame, and that move has certainly paid off.

“I think he was embarrassed by what happened to him against Brown and wanted to play better,” Parker said. “He came right back and played really well against Notre Dame. He’s a good goalie and he knows … those things happen. In general, he’s a very good goaltender, and he’s played really well this stretch.”

But Millan could only do so much Tuesday night, as the defense in front of him failed to keep the Warriors out of the grade-A area. Merrimack outworked BU down low pretty much all game, and it paid off in the form of two tip-in goals that Millan could do nothing about.

On the Warriors’ first goal, which came off a faceoff, the Terriers barely even put up a fight. No one picked up junior forward Ryan Flanigan as he swooped into the faceoff circle to grab a loose puck, no one got out to the point to challenge Stollery on the shot and no one got a body on junior forward Jeff Velleca as he deflected the puck past Millan from atop the crease.

On Merrimack’s third strike, the Terriers  had bodies on the Warriors, but they didn’t do enough to clear them away, allowing Todd to redirect another shot past Millan from in front.

Merrimack got plenty of other grade-A chances as well, and probably would have put the game away early if not for Millan. On top of the flashy glove saves and the breakaway theft, Millan also held his ground on the jam chances and rebound bids from a foot or two away.

“Their best chances were battles out front that Kieran made great saves on,” Parker said. “Overall, we got out-battled for pucks too many times.”

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