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March 29, 2009 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

D.C.-Bound, Boston University Gets There With Grit

by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer

(photos: Josh Gibney)

(photos: Josh Gibney)

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BU D Matt Gilroy after win over UNHBU D Matt Gilroy after win over UNH
BU D Matt Gilroy talks about the win over UNH, finally getting to the Frozen Four and what it will take to beat Vermont.

BU coach Jack Parker on win over UNHBU coach Jack Parker on win over UNH
BU coach Jack Parker talks about the 2-1 win over UNH and returning to the Frozen Four for the first time in 12 years.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Boston University, the top-seeded team in the NCAA tournament, used its superior talent to pound opponents into submission on a nightly basis throughout its Hockey East schedule.

Sunday night, it wasn’t the Terriers’ super-talented squad that would send them to Washington D.C., it was a hard-earned bounce off a UNH penalty killer that has the Terriers in their first Frozen four since 1997.

With just 46 seconds left in the game, UNH’s James van Riemsdyk was called for a hooking penalty that gave BU a power play. With 13.4 ticks left on the clock, Jason Lawrence tried to slide a pass to teammate Colin Wilson who was waiting for the backdoor one-timer, but instead the puck deflected off a diving Jerry Pollastrone, who was attempting to block the pass, and leapt into the net.

“We were on the power play and I kind of hesitated on the pass because the defenseman went down,” said Lawrence. “So because he went down, I tried to go around him. At first I didn’t know what happened, and then I turned and saw it in the back of the net.”

It was a different type of win for the Terriers. The Terriers got the job done with old-fashioned grit. It wasn’t something they had to do a lot of this season.

“To win games at this time of year, that’s what you have to do,” said defenseman Matt Gilroy, BU’s captain. “It did feel like a different type of win for us. But it’s March, almost April, and there aren’t a lot of teams left playing. So to continue, the coaches told us all along, you have to really grit it out and grind. It is a grind this time of year.”

The grind-it-out mentality starts in the crease with goaltender Kieran Millan, who is now 27-2-3 on the year. And, he’s only a freshman.

“He has been unbelievable,” Gilroy said of his rookie netminder. “He’s just so calm. There are so many times that there is a flurry in front or some play gets out of control and I expect him to be a little frazzled and he just sits back and is so calm; it’s almost scary sometimes. I’ve never played with a goalie as calm as he is. That calmness really spreads throughout the boys, too. If we’re scrambling in front but look at our goalie, who hasn’t played a full season of college hockey yet, and it doesn’t seem to bother him, then it can’t bother us.”

Up front, there is no better attack in the nation.

The Terriers boast four 40-point scorers and 12 NHL draft picks on their roster, which is nearly unheard of. BU’s 168 goals in 43 games hardly compare to anyone else in the country.

On the power play is where BU’s talent shined brightest. With the likes of Colin Wilson – the first 50 point scorer at the school since Chris Drury – leading the charge, the BU power play has been deadly.

But UNH has squashed BU all night with the man advantage. The Terriers’ game-winner was just the second shot it had on the power play, and even that was supposed to be a pass to Wilson.

The game-winning tally surely wasn’t what the Terriers had drawn up, but they’ll take it.

“We’re allowed to be creative out there on the power play,” Gilroy said. “We want to move the puck and create chances and that’s how Jason’s goal came about. We were moving the puck and I think their killers may have been scrambling a bit and Jay hesitated for a split second before he tried to hit Colin (Wilson) with a pass on the back door. That hesitation is probably the reason the puck went in. But that goal came about because we were allowed to be creative on the power play from our coaches and we moved the puck. It’s also that grind because UNH was doing a real good job clearing pucks on our power play so we weren’t getting much going until then.”

The goal sends Gilroy, who walked-on as a freshman forward and proceeded to become an All-American defenseman, to at least one more collegiate game as many NHL teams await.

Gilroy passed on a number of NHL offers last season to return to BU.

“I’ve been waiting for this since I was a freshman,” he said with a grin. “There is still plenty of hockey left. We know we have a job to do.”

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