BOSTON — After missing the entire 2014-15 season due to a concussion, Boston University’s Sean Maguire is back in the crease and more focused than ever.
The senior goaltender made 24 saves, 10 in the last stanza alone, to help the No. 9 Terriers beat Northeastern 3-1 in the 64th Beanpot semifinal game Monday night at the TD Garden. With the victory, he improved to 8-4-1.
Semifinals: Feb. 1
• Third place: Northeastern 5, Harvard 1
• Championship: Boston College 1, Boston University 0 (OT)
“Our season started and both of our goalies — one of them, Sean, didn’t play a game last year, and the other, Connor LaCouvee, played about six, so we knew there was going to be a little bit of some growing pains when the season started,” said BU coach David Quinn.
“Sean struggled early, probably bottoming out up at Merrimack when we pulled him after giving up four goals on 14 shots, and since then, he hasn’t went back and he’s kept a great attitude. He’s played some great hockey in the past month and a half, and there really wasn’t much of a decision to play him tonight.”
Maguire has received each of the last eight starts for the Terriers, going 5-1-2 in those games. He posted a .965 save percentage in his last five games. And over the past 10 weeks, Maguire has posted a 1.92 GAA to go along with a .938 save percentage, which ranked sixth in the nation — and first in Hockey East — during that span.
“I think I just had to find out what kind of goalie I was again,” said Maguire. “It took a little while to get my feet wet, coming back from a year without playing and coming back into a competitive league like Hockey East — it’s not easy. I just needed to get a few wins under my belt, bottle up the performances and roll with it — keep going into each game like you ended the last one. Just flow.”
The turning point was against No. 1 Quinnipiac on Dec. 14, when Maguire made 36 saves in BU’s 4-1 win, a performance that earned him Hockey East defensive player of the week honors.
So why the sudden turnaround? Maguire assures it wasn’t nerves in the beginning of the season after coming off a year of no play. It was quite the opposite.
“I wasn’t nervous, I was actually really excited,” he said without hesitation. “And I was way more intense than I had to be going into games, and I needed to calm down. So that’s what I did.”
Injuries can be devastating, not only physically, but emotionally. However, it’s how people handle tough situations that truly shows their character. Instead of reflecting on his medically redshirted junior season as a setback, the British Columbia native saw it as an opportunity to become even stronger — both mentally and on the ice.
“There’s an opportunity to either decline or excel,” Maguire said. “But what I tried to do was get in the best physical shape I could and follow all the doctors’ orders. I used all of my positive assets to my advantage rather than focus on the negative things because positive thinking always works; negative thinking, it drags you down. All I could do was remain positive and just know that things were going to get better.”
After four months of rest after his March 2014 concussion, the Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick said he “had a lot of extra time” to “focus and hone in on the skills that needed to be developed,” one of those being his hands.
“Catching pucks, seeing pucks, keeping my hands up all the time in front of me — my hand placement and positioning was one thing I had to work on and that’s definitely improved a lot — that’s one of the strongest parts of my game right now,” Maguire said. “I am really happy to have had that time to work on it because when you are in the season you don’t have time.”
Maguire credits his best friends — his fellow senior teammates — as having stuck by his side, providing the support he needed to transition back into his place on the team.
“We have a really tight-knit group,” he said with a smile. “Throughout the process of my recovery, I found out I have a lot of friends who I am going to keep for the rest of my life here.”
Before next Monday’s championship game against Boston College, the Terriers travel to Amherst to face off against Massachusetts on Friday night. The 6-foot-2 netminder has learned to take one day and one save at a time.
“My mindset now whenever a guy is coming down the wing at me or has a puck in the slot is that this is the only thing I have to worry about — this one shot, so let’s make this one save,” Maguire said. “We haven’t won the Beanpot yet, so my next goal is stopping the next shot in practice — that’s all I am focused on, getting better this week. Then I’m focused on UMass. Then as soon as I step on the Garden ice again, we have to figure out how to beat BC.”