After exhibition sleepwalk, Millan back in form for Boston University

BOSTON — Boston University fans know that they can count on senior goaltender Kieran Millan.

Except, perhaps, in games that don’t count.

In last week’s exhibition game, Millan sleepwalked through two periods, giving up five goals on just 17 shots against St. Francis Xavier. But what a difference a week, and a game that counts in the Hockey East standings, can make. Millan made 35 saves against No. 12 New Hampshire, including four or five real gems, to earn his sixth career shutout while tying Sean Fields for the all-time Terriers record for wins with 62.

It was enough to make Jack Parker wonder just who was that masked man last Saturday night.

“I went in the dressing room and asked, ‘Kieran, who was that guy wearing your uniform last week?'” Parker said. “I’ve never seen him look like that, ever. I’ve seen him look like tonight a lot of times. Glad to have him back.”

Millan wasn’t fazed by his performance last week, knowing that this was the first one that really mattered.

“It’s an important game, where last game we’re just trying to get our feet wet,” Millan said. “Obviously, it didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, but it didn’t mean anything, so it was really easy to refocus and get ready for this week.”

If you glanced at the box score, 5-0 makes it look like a BU blowout, but it could just have easily been a 4-4 game. The BU skaters played at a high energy level and looked like world-beaters at times with slick passing in the offensive end, but they also had their fair share of brain cramps that led to all too many odd-man rushes and a pair of short-handed breakaways.

“Right off the bat, we gave them two-on-ones, three-on-twos,” Parker said. “We’ve got to be more thorough in our own end.”

Despite the chances, it was literally all for naught for the Wildcats. The first great save came halfway through the first period, when a BU defenseman unwisely pinched to set up a UNH two-on-one. Nick Sorkin made a fantastic pass through the defender, but Millan stoned Austin Block on the doorstep.

Parker was surprised to learn that it was a record-tying performance.

“He tied it for wins tonight? I didn’t know that. He’s going to go well beyond that, I hope. He’s been a terrific goaltender, and he’s had a chance to play from the get-go as a freshman; obviously had a great year as a freshman to get us to the national championship. He’s been one of the best goalies to play here in a long line of really good goalies.”

While breaking the record might seem to have been a lock, that wasn’t the case last spring. A pro contract was a definite possibility.

“Obviously, we’re tickled that he came back,” Parker said. “There was talk that he might sign with Colorado. I think he’s really happy to be back and looking forward to a great senior year with us.”