Hockey East Semifinal Notebook
CHN Staff Report
BOSTON There's no question who Boston College's No. 1 goaltender is after John Muse's 30-save shutout of Vermont in the first of two Hockey Easy Semfinal games Friday night at the TD Garden. The win clinched BC a spot in the Hockey East Championship game Saturday night against Maine.
In the first game of BC's quarterfinal series against Massachusetts, freshman Parker Millner made the start, and allowed five goals in a 6-5 BC win. Muse started the following the night, and BC skated to a 5-2 win over the Minutemen. Millner's struggles against UMass were not indicative of his play this season - he's 10-2-1 with a 2.32 goals against average - but his role is defined more by the way Muse feels than they way he players.
After last season, Muse underwent hip surgery, and BC coach Jerry York decided he needed another goaltender to spell Muse every now and then. Muse was at his best against Vermont Friday night. To rehab from major hip surgery and immediately begin a college hockey season isn't an easy thing to do. Relying on that player and only that player to backstop your team to championships is a mistake a coach with York's experience doesn't make.
Not only does York believe Millner's presence has made his team better, but it's made each goaltender more reliable.
"Parker's play has pushed John to the point where he's a better player because Parker is here," York said.
"We were all unsure about John. That was major surgery that he had. We were actively recruiting a goaltender in early April when we found out about John's surgery. The ability for John to sit back and watch some games helped his process to get back to where he is now. Also, the competitive nature of it helped him. I think his work ethic is better this year, so there's a lot of plusses that Parker has brought to our program."
7 seconds too little
It looked like Vermont would escape the second period against BC trailing 1-0. UVM coach Kevin Sneddon praised the Catamounts for sticking to their systems and sustaining pressure on Muse. The Catamounts created chances and nearly tied the game at several points throughout the period.
Late in the period, BC defenseman Philip Sammuelsson picked up a puck at his own blue line and patiently walked it into the Vermont zone. With 7 seconds remaining in the period, Samuelsson, now at the half-wall, slid the puck through the low slot to Ben Smith who tipped it past UVM goaltender Rob Madore. Sneddon didn't mind beginning the third period down a goal. Two goals, though, is quite the deficit for his team - predicated heavily on a patient and deliberate style.
The Eagles added another at 3 minutes, 6 seconds of the third period when Jimmy Hayes slammed a rebound past Madore. From there, the Eagles coasted to the win.
Sneddon was pleased with his team's effort, but the Catamounts lack of a major offensive threat made it difficult to find their way back in the game.
"The real turning point was obviously the goal with 7 seconds left [in the second period]," Sneddon said. "We were 7 seconds away from entering the third period down 1-0, instead we're down 2-0. That was a tough turning point, but I give our guys credit; they played well in the third to try to mount a comeback. We just fell short."
Just before the Eagles scored, UVM senior Colin Vock picked up a loose puck at his own blue line and walk in alone on Muse. The BC defenseman managed to disrupt the shot with a stick check just as Vock shifted the puck to his backhand. Rather than heading toward the crossbar, the puck settled in Muse's midsection. Smith's goal came shortly after.
"They did a little bit better of a job at capitalizing on their chances. I had a breakaway and didn't score. That would've changed the game around a little bit, it would've been 1-1. We need to bear down a little, play a little bit better defensively in the first period."
Kreider's not a freshman anymore
After scoring four goals through BC's first 19 games of the season, BC freshman Chris Kreider scored his 10th in his last 14 in the first period against UVM on Friday. Kreider entered the BC program a few months after the New York Rangers selected him in the first round of the National Hockey League draft.
Despite the expectations, the 18-year-old winger with what many coaches in Hockey East have called the best speed they've ever seen struggled to establish himself in the college game.
York credits Kreider's emergence with his trip to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for the World Junior Championships. The confidence Kreider gained during the two-week stretch with the U.S. Junior National Team.
"I think he had a tough adjustment coming from Andover Academy to Hockey East in the first semester. He really was just kind of hanging in there. He's 18 years old playing against a lot older players. I think the World Junior experience put him back in his old age bracket.
"I think he was more comfortable at that level, and came back more confident. He's just grown by leaps and bounds. He's just a really good player - strong, hard-nosed and he can score goals."
The development of BC's gifted winger has the rest of the leagues coaches terrified about his potential, and the damage he may do in future games.
"He's a great player. Every time I've watched film of Boston College, I just marvel at his speed," Sneddon said of Kreider. "But I think the thing that Chris is starting to do now, and you're seeing this from most of their freshman especially on the blue line, is they're able to make plays at top speed. There are a lot of guys that fly out there, but don't have the hands that can go with the speed. He's a special player. He's going to be a great college player at BC, and, obviously, we're going to be watching him in the NHL someday."
Hockey East All-Decade Team
During the game between BC and UVM, Hockey East announced its All-Decade team.
Boston College led the way with seven players selected including five forwards. Eight of the 10 teams in the conference had a player on the team; only Merrimack and Providence did not get a player on the 21-man roster.
Hobey Baker winners Matt Gilroy from Boston University and Mike Mottau from Boston College highlighted the defensive group, while Jimmy Howard of Maine, Brad Thiessen of Northeastern and BU's John Curry made up the goaltending honorees.
The story of team and rightfully so given BC's dominance over the league in the first 10 years of the 21st century; the Eagles also won two national championships and played four of the 10 title games.
John Curry - Boston University - 2003-07
Jimmy Howard - Maine - 2002-05
Brad Thiessen - Northeastern - 2006-09
Andrew Alberts - Boston College - 2001-05
Jim Fahey - Northeastern - 1998-02
Matt Gilroy - Boston University - 2005-09
Ron Hainsey - UMass-Lowell - 1999-01
Mike Mottau - Boston College - 1997-00
Thomas Pöck - Massachusetts - 2000-04
Brian Boyle - Boston College - 2003-07
Niko Dimitrakos - Maine - 1998-02
Ben Eaves - Boston College - 2000-04
Patrick Eaves - Boston College - 2002-05
Nathan Gerbe - Boston College - 2005-08
Brian Gionta - Boston College - 1997-01
Darren Hayder - New Hampshire - 1998-02
Michel Léveillé - Maine - 2003-07
Greg Moore - Maine - 2003-06
Steve Saviano - New Hampshire - 2000-04
Viktor Stalberg - Vermont - 2006-09