Millan Lifts BU to HEA Title
by Jake Seiner/CHN Reporter
by Jake Seiner/CHN Reporter
BOSTON Just a week ago, in game two of a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series with Maine, Boston University freshman goaltender Kieran Millan, for the first time all season, looked “human,” by coach Jack Parker’s account.
Millan, who entered Saturday’s Hockey East final matchup with UMass-Lowell fifth in the country with a 1.84 goals against average, allowed six goals on 26 shots last week in a 6-2 Black Bear victory.
A week later, the freshman from Edmonton, Alta., stood center ice at TD Banknorth Garden, a Hockey East Championship trophy to one side, and a tournament MVP trophy grasped in his hands.
Millan was the keystone that held the Terriers together in championship game 1-0 victory Saturday, turning away 32 Lowell shots. The freshman made several spectacular saves, including a number of sliding butterfly saves on the posts and a handful of dramatic stops as Lowell players shoveled away at loose pucks in the crease.
As cool and collected as he had been all season in net, Millan all but iced the game for BU with a sliding body save on a doorstep shot from Scott Campbell — the River Hawks leading scorer – with 1.5 left in the third period.
“I was getting a little nervous,” Millan said about preserving the shutout in the game’s waning moments. “At the same time, you just have to go out there and focus. . .I just tried to stay calm. Things got a little crazy during this game, but at the same time, I thought we kept our cool.”
“Saturday [against Maine] was a very bad game. It was a wake-up call and I refocused, and during playoffs, you can’t really dwell on things that happened in the past. You just have to take it one game at a time.”
The performance epitomized the composure Millan has brought to the Terriers all season long. On several occasions, Lowell managed to work the puck into the crease, creating scrums and wreaking the kind of havoc that leaves many goaltenders helpless and exposed.
“He’s absolutely fabulous with traffic in front of the net,” Parker said. “When there’s people all around him, as there was tonight, he somehow is strong enough to deal from his derriere.”
“[Millan] looks like Cool-Hand Luke in there,” Lowell coach Blaise McDonald said. “Nothing seems to phase him or rattle him.”
“He’s a freshman but we’ve stopped thinking of him as a freshman,” BU senior captian John McCarthy said. “He’s been in a lot of high pressure games and situations and he just plays it cool all the time.”
Millan’s collegiate hockey journey began with a fair amount of uncertainty. Millan joined the team in August alongside fellow freshman goaltender Grant Rollheiser, and for the first month and a half of the season, the pair platooned between the pipes. By early December, when BU played cross-town rival Boston College in a home-and-home series, the starting job had become Millan’s until further notice. After holding the Eagle’s explosive offense to just two goals over two games, Millan took over full-time as BU’s starting netminder, and has gone 19-1-3 since Dec. 5.
“I came into a situation where I wasn’t sure exactly how much I’d be playing,” Millan said. “I just battled hard in practice and tried as hard as a could in games.”
Parker said he was extremely pleased by his freshman goalie’s advanced maturity. After a disappointing 4-2 loss to Providence on Jan. 13, Parker, who’s Back Bay home is near a dorm many of the freshman hockey players reside in, gave Millan and a couple other players a ride home. Rollheiser had started in net that night while Millan took a much-deserved rest, and Parker told Millan that his freshman counterpart looked jumpy in goal.
“Yeah, [Rollheiser] told me he was a little jumpy early in the game,” Millan told his coach. “You know, I don’t understand that. You’re just going in goal. You’re supposed to be having fun. I don’t understand it.”
BU, which is heading into the NCAA Tournament as the nation’s No. 1 team just one year removed from missing the tournament completely, hopes there’s plenty more fun to be had in Millan’s near future.
“We had a good solid team last year but we didn’t have solid goaltending,” Parker said. “We thought we’d be good this year but we needed to have calmness in the net. [We needed] good goaltending, but certainly not a great goaltending. We had a great goaltending year out of Kieran Millan this year, so far. He absolutely has been great.”
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