When it comes to tips, Boston University really paid Monday night.
In the nightcap of the Beanpot semifinals, Boston College scored all three goals off a Boston University defender. Pucks tipped off Terriers every way imaginable, leaving Kieran Millan the unlucky loser in net despite a heroic effort with many game-saving stops.
Jimmy Hayes had a breakaway halfway through the second period. Millan made the pad save.
The Eagles swarmed the net later in the period, and Millan finally swept the puck out of the crease like a baseball player taking a one-handed swing.
At the end of the period, it took a video review to prove that Millan denied Hayes again, apparently with an inch or two to spare on the goal line.
Most dramatically of all, he made the save of the night with 52 seconds left in regulation. Just after BC killed off two Terriers penalties, Brian Dumoulin went in all alone with the game on his stick. Millan stopped him, too. He made 37 saves altogether.
The only ones he couldn’t keep out were the result of friendly fire. “It’s frustrating,” Millan said. “Tonight, I thought we played a good game for a full 60 minutes, and I thought we did a good job in overtime, too. We did a good job of limiting their scoring opportunities, but that being said they managed to get three goals. Three is enough to win a game usually, so we lost.”
Those three goals left Terriers coach Jack Parker scratching his head. “They got three goals: One of them popped off of my defenseman’s shoulder and went into the net. One went off my defenseman’s stick and into the net, and one went off of my defenseman’s left leg and went in the net.”
“You try and stay in position,” Millan said when asked about dealing with quirky tips and bounces. “If it happens, those are the easy ones to forget because you really can’t do anything about it. You’re not blaming yourself afterward. As a goalie, it’s disappointing — having three in a game doesn’t help out. I’m pretty sure BC scored a couple against us that way last time in the Beanpot. I don’t why that is.”
BC indeed scored at least one goal off a BU defenseman in the 2010 Beanpot championship, and that was a one-goal game. The Terriers have picked some bad timing to have bad luck.
That last goal Monday was especially painful for the BU faithful. After an epic battle between the archrivals, it was settled on a seemingly innocuous floater that found its way through three or four players before hitting Terriers defenseman Adam Clendening and going in.
“I caught it late because there was a bit of a screen, but it ended up going off one of our players’ stick anyways,” Millan said. “Tough pill to swallow, but there’s still a lot ahead of us this season. We’ll take this in stride and hopefully beat them in the Hockey East playoffs.”
After getting beaten decisively by BC in the first two games, BU came closer than ever tonight. Millan is a big reason why. Last Friday night against Massachusetts-Lowell, he made several astonishing third-period saves.
The Alberta native had a storybook freshman season, winning the 2009 national championship. The Terriers wouldn’t have even made the Frozen Four that year if not for Millan’s amazing effort against New Hampshire in the Northeast Regional final.
Like most of the Terriers, he wasn’t at his best during the first half of last season. Lately, though, he’s looked as good as he ever has in a BU uniform.
“He’s done it all year long for us, and we’ve been breaking down sometimes in front of him,” Parker said. “He’s played much better than his goals-against average and save percentage indicate. He hasn’t had a shutout this year, and we’ve let him down that way. I think he’s played his best hockey he’s ever played in this stretch. I think we’re getting better now, and we’re catching up to him now.”
Maybe the Terriers owe Millan a dinner for what he has done for the team this season. In the future, though, they should reserve any tips around their goalie for the wait staff.