By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff
For all but the luckiest hockey teams, goaltending is often a question. The Boston University men’s team found an unconventional answer this year, using freshmen Sean Maguire and Matt O’Connor as complementary pieces in net for most of the season.
While resolution in the form of a clear No. 1 goalie never came, both were good enough that rotating them was logical. BU goaltending coach Mike Geragosian said he thinks the competition was also the best way for both to develop, each pushing the other to stay sharp.
“I don’t think it’s a [Kieran] Millan-[Grant] Rollheiser roommate situation,” Geragosian said. “I think there’s mutual respect for each other, but there’s also mutual compete, that, ‘Hey, if you don’t play well, I’m going to play well.’
“And that’s what’s great about these two. They’re only going to get better because of that drive, versus, ‘Oh, I’m happy not playing.’”
Maguire eventually started 21 games to O’Connor’s 18 because O’Connor was out for the season after being hospitalized in early March with a collapsed lung. O’Connor made 10 of BU’s first 15 starts as Maguire worked out some early kinks, but they split time from January through the end of February.
By the numbers, each played better when starting every game, or at least the majority of the games. Between Oct. 26 and Dec. 6, when O’Connor started all but three of BU’s 12 games, he had a .924 save percentage, compared to .910 on the year.
The change was even more extreme in Maguire’s case. When O’Connor was scratched from his scheduled start on March 2, Maguire started consecutive games for only the second time all year. He then started the next six, putting up a .957 save percentage in those eight games, including four in the postseason, to bring his overall save percentage up to .926 on the year.
Those numbers are not everything — Maguire’s late run was the product of improvements he made all year, and it would have been tough to maintain the success O’Connor had early over an entire year, regardless of how often he played. But they do illustrate the balancing act involved in developing two successful goalies.
For more, including a look at what Maguire and O’Connor said about sharing the job and what might be in store next year, go to dailyfreepress.com.