BU, Millan Gearing Up Just in Time
Terriers Capture Beanpot Semi, 2-1
by Joe Meloni/CHN Reporter
BOSTON There was a point earlier this season that made Kieran Millan’s first season with Boston University seem like a fluke.
The Terriers won the game, 6-5, in overtime, edging Harvard at Bright Arena in Cambridge. For years, games between these cross-town rivals regularly resulted in back-and-forth shootouts.
Those days were gone, though.
Boston University was coming off a national championship. And Harvard, well, Harvard had one win. Of course, it’s never easy to pin rivalry games – when teams play each other at least once every season, their games tend end a little differently than common sense would dictate.
Still, five goals?
On 26 shots?
It just didn’t look like the Millan who provided the Terriers with remarkable goaltending for a majority of their national championship season. At that point, it was impossible to find a quick fix.
Millan, the sophomore from Edmonton, just needed to get away. That time came, eventually. But not before the Terriers dug themselves into a big enough hole that seemed to make even qualifying for the Hockey East Tournament, never mind defending their title, a fading possibility.
BU played four more games in the first half of the season. They tied two of them – Millan didn’t in those ones – and they lost two of them – Millan did play in those two.
Following the loss to Rensselaer on Dec. 11, Millan finished his academic commitments for the first semester and went home.
He returned a few weeks later, and, well, there was something different. Not just for Millan, but for the Terriers in general.
“Having a few weeks away from hockey was good for everyone,” Millan said. “We needed to rethink what we were doing and change our attitudes. I think the entire team has worked a lot harder, and that’s contributed to our success on the ice. As a goalie, you’re only as good as your team.”
Not much went right for BU as a whole in the first half of the season. When the dreadful stretch of the season ended, BU’s record stood at 4-9-3.
“Last year was obviously a pretty good season,” Millan said. “There were a lot of expectations for us to carry. We didn’t have the same team this year that we did last year to start; there were a lot of young guys just starting to get into the lineup. Obviously, I wasn’t playing my best, but we weren’t playing our best as a team.”
Since returning to school, the Terriers are 6-2-0. The first five victories came against conference opponents. The 10 points BU picked up in January catapulted it into sixth place in Hockey East – four points behind fourth-place Maine.
Monday night, though, the Terriers played their first non-conference game of the second half of the season. At this point, BU finds itself so far down the PairWise Rankings that a typical non-conference game might not hold as much weight as a game that meant two points in the Hockey East standings.
This one was different, though.
It came on the first Monday of February, which means a lot around this city. Mondays in February in Boston mean Beanpot. And, for the Terriers, the Beanpot meant a chance to show all of college hockey that the defending national champions aren’t to be forgotten.
For Millan, it meant an opportunity to show Hockey East that any talk of two points against BU goes through him.
BU won the Beanpot last year. It was Millan who guided the Terriers through a tough first round matchup with Harvard before making 23 saves in a 5-2 win over Northeastern in the championship game.
BU drew Northeastern in their semifinal matchup Monday night. Once again, Millan stood in the net for the Terriers. And, once again, the sophomore found the form that made him a Beanpot champion as a freshman.
The Terriers and the Huskies stood deadlocked, 1-1, with fewer than 6 minutes remaining in regulation. Freshman Alex Chiasson scored at 14 minutes, 13 seconds of the third period to inch BU ahead. From that point, it was Millan’s game to win.
With 1:28 remaining in regulation, BU’s Ross Gaudet went off for hooking. With NU goaltender Chris Rawlings (33 saves) pulled, the Huskies took aim Millan and a place in the Beanpot Championship.
Place the same situation in November and the result may have been different. Millan and the Terriers may have relinquished the lead. Monday night, though, there was more than just a game to win. There was something to prove.
“We know we can win those close games,” Millan said following BU’s 2-1 victory over Northeastern. “At the start of the season, we weren’t winning those close games. We need to be able to pull through the way we did [Monday night]. Making it to the finals of our first tournament is a really big success. We want to win it, but, with the way things are going, we’ve shown that we can win it.”
Next Monday night, the Terriers skate onto the TD Garden Ice once again. And, once again, it’s that other team from Commonwealth Avenue standing between them and a 30th Beanpot Championship.
The Terriers are confident, though. They have Kieran Millan guarding their goal. And that’s beginning to mean something once again.