By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — As the third period of Saturday night’s 1-0 win over Providence College wore on, Boston University was obviously playing to maintain its lead and hold on for the win. But the Terriers were also playing for something else — Kieran Millan’s first shutout of the season.
“Definitely,” senior co-captain Joe Pereira said when asked if the shutout bid added any extra motivation. “The way he’s playing, he needs to be rewarded. Giving up one goal against UMass-Lowell [two weeks ago] and then Providence last night, that’s not his fault. That’s our fault for taking stupid penalties and letting him down. It’s something we needed to do to help him out.”
Millan has played great for the vast majority of this season, especially in the second half, but he had yet to register a shutout before Saturday’s 32-save effort. In those two games Pereira mentioned — vs. UMass-Lowell on Feb. 4 and vs. Providence on Friday — Millan lost both shutout bids on power-play goals with less than two minutes to go. Back on Oct. 23, he lost another shutout bid to the Friars on an extra-attacker goal with just eight seconds remaining.
BU coach Jack Parker blamed Friday night’s blown opportunity on guys not making smart decisions when it came to moving the puck and staying disciplined. He expressed frustration both with guys being too concerned about getting a goal for themselves and with guys getting involved in extracurricular activities that there was no need for.
The message clearly sunk in, as the Terriers repeatedly swarmed the puck in the defensive zone and made the right play rather than the pretty one down the stretch Saturday night.
“It’s been disappointing,” Parker said. “A few times, we had it for [Millan] and then we give it up with penalties like we did the other night. I got on them pretty good after last night’s game because of that and they responded the right way. I liked the fact that they really dug down deep and tried to make sure they got it for him.”
Millan said it felt good to finally get that elusive shutout, his first since a 3-0 blanking of Merrimack College in Game 2 of the Hockey East quarterfinals last year. He said the fact that it was a one-goal game and not a two- or three-goal lead like his previous bids this year might’ve helped Saturday night.
“It’s actually almost easier when the game’s close like that because the team has no leeway to really mess around,” Millan said. “I thought they fought hard right to the end, and it makes my job a lot easier.”
In addition to avoiding the penalty box, Millan said another key Saturday night was that he was able to see most of the Friars’ shots. The Terriers had been doing a good job of getting out of shooting lanes if they couldn’t make a clean block for most of this semester, but they got away from that in the Beanpot.
Millan said that’s something everyone made sure they got back to doing this week in practice. He said there was no hesitation on his part to remind guys to stay out of his way.
“It’s not that hard at all,” Millan said when asked if it was difficult to get that message out. “I just tell him right to his face. It’s part of the game. It’s easier for me and it makes them look better if we’re not getting scored on. It’s something our team addressed this week in practice and it worked out well.”
Millan said he has to a be a little more vocal because of how young BU’s defense is (junior David Warsofsky is the only upperclassman), but he said that’s starting to become a non-issue.
“I just try and guide them because they’re young and a little inexperienced,” Millan said. “But it’s getting late in the year and they’ve matured quite a bit. So hopefully we can have a good run.”