A Night to Forget, A Career to Remember
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
ST. LOUIS Three years ago in the Mile High City of Denver, a freshman goalie named John Muse led Boston College to a national championship, in a year in which Muse played every single minute in net for the Eagles.
A season ago, Muse backstopped his team to an NCAA championship again, in front of the biggest Frozen Four crowd ever — extending his NCAA tournament record to a gaudy 8-0 with a 1.95 goals against average.
Certainly, it's a career that legends are made of — and for a program such as Boston College, that's saying something.
But on Friday night in the NCAA West Regional semifinal in St. Louis, Muse and the Eagles stumbled early, never finding their footing in an eventual 8-4 loss to Colorado College.
Muse allowed 7 goals on 29 shots and watched the third period from the bench, a place that during his four years at Chestnut Hill has been wholly unfamiliar to him.
"It's tough to go out on a game like that," said Muse, who, in tears, faced the media patiently and with class after the final game of his college career came to an end. "Obviously, things didn't go well for me tonight. I definitely wanted a couple back.
"I haven't really had that much time to think about it. I'm sure I will when I get back home — think about the whole four years. I'm very proud of what I did in my four years."
As he should be.
In addition to his well-known 8-0 — now 8-1 — record in the NCAA tournament, Muse entered Friday's game with a 20-1 record in postseason games overall. He helped lead the Eagles to three league tournament titles, two NCAA Frozen Four appearances and two national titles.
He and his fellow seniors saw the Eagles win 102 games (89 with Muse between the pipes) in four years, prompting legendary head coach Jerry York — who drops to 9-1 all-time in the NCAA tournament first round — to note after the game that his team's Class of 2012 will "go down in the history of BC as one of our finest groups of players."
In his senior season, Muse started 33 of 38 games prior to the NCAA tournament, earning All-Conference first-team honors after ranking eighth nationally in save percentage (.926) and 10th nationally in goals against average (2.13). He led the nation in winning percentage.
Clearly, all these numbers made Friday's result all the more stunning.
He had a chance to become the only goalie ever to win three national championships. That chance is now over.
"It's difficult," said Muse, who posted 12 shutouts during his career. "We've been up here a lot of times after big wins. It's something new. Colorado College played a great game, and things didn't go our way. It's a learning experience, and you've got to tip your cap to them."
Eight goals were the most allowed by Boston College this season — the most allowed since Muse allowed seven, actually, in last year's NCAA Regional Final. He was able to laugh that one off, since his team won, 9-7. Still, even with the game seemingly out of reach — at one point, a 7-2 lead in CC's favor — Muse held on to the belief that the Eagles would come back.
After all, they've done it time and time again, this season and in seasons past.
"I was really hoping that we'd come back there," said Muse. "There's no one in our room that gives up when the game's over, and it was never in my mind that my career was over until there was a zero on the clock.
"Like I said, we haven't had many losses in big games. It's a different experience. It's tough. It's tough walking away from the guys."
Nevertheless, at least at some point, there will be some consolation.
Because even though Friday night was one to forget for Muse on the ice, he's given Eagles fans — and himself — plenty to remember.