The Teacher and the Student
BU Assistant Coach Mike Geragosian Has Another Winner in Kieran Millan
by Mike Machnik/CHN Senior Editor
BU asst coach Mike Geragosian on G Kieran Millan
Legendary BU goaltending coach Mike Geragosian talks with Mike Machnik about rookie netminder Kieran Millan on the eve of the Frozen Four.
BU G Kieran Millan on Mike Geragosian
BU freshman goaltender Kieran Millan talks about working with goalie coach Mike Geragosian.
WASHINGTON, D.C. Kieran Millan has backstopped Boston University to the top of the national rankings and a berth in the NCAA semifinals Thursday against Vermont.
But behind the rookie netminder has been one of the top goaltending coaches in all of college hockey, BU assistant Mike Geragosian.
"Gera", as he's called, had a lot to do with Millan leaving his home in Edmonton last fall to come all the way to Boston to play goal for the Terriers.
"I had an opportunity to meet him during my official visit," said Millan, who enters the semifinals with a record of 27-2-3, a 1.85 GAA and .923 save percentage. "He seemed like a good guy, he knew what he was talking about, and all the goaltenders who had been playing there at that time gave him praises and said he was really helpful. It was actually a big part in making my decision to come play [at BU].
"On my junior team [Spruce Grove, AJHL] we had a goalie coach, and that was a main reason I chose to play for that junior team as well. Gera's got good credentials and everyone says he's been really good. Getting to meet him and understand his philosophy on goaltending helped me make the decision on what school I wanted to go to."
Geragosian says he had only seen the undrafted Millan play on video, but he knew he had something special in the 19-year-old.
"Certainly I looked at his quickness — you've got to be quick to be a goaltender," Geragosian said. "And I looked at his basic demeanor and ability to skate. That's important. If you can't skate and have good leg pushes at this game, if you can't get there no matter what I show you, it might take a long time to be able to do lateral pushes and rotations and some of the things we work with goaltenders.
"It would be very difficult if you don't have leg strength. Kieran came in with good leg strength and good balance, and certainly we've worked on the rebound control and a few other areas and he's developed into an elite goaltender right now."
BU is Geragosian's fourth stop in his college coaching career (Lowell, Princeton, Merrimack), and ten of his years have been spent at BU. His track record, while well-known in college circles, might not be clear to the casual fan.
But every place he has been, he has coached good goaltenders into great ones. Mark Richards and Dwayne Roloson at Lowell. Martin Legault at Merrimack. Jim Konte and Erasmo Saltarelli at Princeton. Rick DiPietro, Sean Fields and John Curry at BU.
And now Millan is another in the long line of fervent Geragosian disciples.
"Every once in a while he helps us relate to certain things by bringing up a past goaltender," said Millan. "Being a Roloson fan — I'm from Edmonton, so he's with the Oilers and I like him — he says things about him that helps me stay focused and lets me understand the reasoning behind each of his techniques."
Geragosian says Millan compares quite favorably with other players he's coached. And maybe a lesson for aspiring players out there — it may have more to do with Millan's approach and attitude than anything else.
"Freshman year, position-wise, we knew Ricky DiPietro had all sorts of athletic ability," Geragosian said. "We saw him grow up in our backyard and he was fabulous. And I knew that Roloson, who had all sorts of potential as an athlete and competitiveness that was just second to none, was going to be a great goalie.
"As far as freshman year and consistency and positioning, the tactical part of the game, the technical part of the game, [Millan]'s been way above a lot of the goalies I've worked with, who might have come in with a lot more physical ability."
"He certainly has a lot more rebound control, and his learning curve is absolutely fabulous," said Geragosian. "He picks up things. I don't have to do as much repetitive coaching, which is kind of 'muscle memory' — repetitive coaching — when you're a goalie coach.
"He's very quick to respond and very appreciative. He certainly has a great demeanor about his attitude towards the game. We also work on the difference between nonchalant and attacking spots, getting to the places where he was supposed to be."
"He really works on the rotations," said Millan. "Mental toughness, working through tough plays and stuff like that, he really helps keep me calm and helps me get out there and play my best."
Millan's mental toughness is a factor that Terrier coach Jack Parker has repeatedly pointed to during this run. BU has lost only one of its last 23 (19-1-3) and two of its last 32, going 26-2-4 since a 7-4 start that included a pair of home losses to Vermont. The Terriers have only given up more than three goals twice during that stretch — both losses, 4-2 to Providence and 6-3 to Maine.
Geragosian says it's been all about getting into a groove and staying there.
"There's an old saying, 'If it ain't broken, don't try to fix it,'" Geragosian said. "We talk about staying with what we do. Staying on top. Getting to the top is hard work; staying at that top level of goaltending is even harder.
"So we're just trying to keep the same flow, not overcoach, not go, 'OK, A to B to C to D to E to F to G.' Attack your spots, do things right and stay with what works."
Millan concurs, repeating the words of his teacher.
"'Just stay calm. Play it as you would any other game. It's hockey. It's the same thing as always.
"'Go out there and do everything you can to keep the puck out of the net and the team will do fine.'"