Terriers force Game Three with 4-2 win over UNH

By: Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

In a win-or-go-home Game Two of the Hockey East quarterfinals, the Boston University men’s hockey team bounced back from its series-opening overtime loss with a 4-2 victory over the University of New Hampshire on Saturday at Agganis Arena.

After struggling to keep up with the speed and effort of New Hampshire (15-18-3) in Friday night’s affair, BU (22-13-1) found its legs Saturday night. BU coach Jack Parker mixed up the lines a bit, and the team seemed to respond well.

“[Saturday’s win] was a college hockey game. [Friday’s loss] was a massacre,” Parker said. “Even though it seemed like it wasn’t because of the overtime, but it was a different game. Tonight was a real good college hockey game.”

It was the extra effort that helped BU score its first goal of the game on the power play. After a low shot from freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera, junior forward Alex Chiasson shoved a rebound through UNH goaltender Casey DeSmith’s pads, where senior captain Chris Connolly poked the puck into the empty net to give BU a 1-0 lead.

The goal came almost 12 minutes into the first period, and the Terriers held the lead until UNH forward Stevie Moses tied the game in the second period. Moses carried a feed from linemate Kevin Goumas to BU senior goaltender Kieran Millan’s right, where he rifled a wrist shot into the top right corner. The goal was Moses’s 22nd of the season.

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Millan shines against UNH again despite loss

By: Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Senior goaltender Kieran Millan had not had a problem handling the University of New Hampshire throughout his career before Friday night’s Hockey East quarterfinal matchup at Agganis Arena. In his four years with the Boston University men’s hockey team, Millan has had a 7-2 record with a .952 save percentage and a 1.56 goals against average when facing the Wildcats.

Despite BU’s 3-2 double-overtime loss in Friday night’s game, Millan continued to shine against UNH, as he stopped a career-high 47 shots, including 18 in the third period. While UNH controlled the pace of the game and peppered the BU goal with shots, Millan held strong and gave BU a chance to win.

“He was unbelievable. I mean obviously he almost stole the game again,” said UNH coach Dick Umile, who saw Millan steal a NCAA Regional Final game from his squad back in 2009 to keep the Wildcats out of the Frozen Four. “He’s won an awful lot of hockey games because he is a great goaltender.”

While he had a great showing in the game, the night didn’t start that well for Millan, who allowed two goals in the first period. The second goal came from a long, soft shot from UNH forward Kevin Goumas that slipped past him to give the Wildcats the lead.

However, Millan bounced back from the shaky play, as he made 37 saves over the following three periods to keep BU’s stagnant offense alive in the playoff game.

Senior captain Chris Connolly noted that with the offense struggling get chances at against opposing goaltender Casey DeSmith, Millan was the reason BU had a shot at winning the game.

“We feel bad for him,” Connolly said. “He did everything to give us a chance to win there and all we needed to do was try to pop one in and they shot 50 shots.”

Not only did the offense struggle scoring to keep the puck in UNH’s zone during the game, but BU’s defense struggled to clear the puck throughout the entire game. On the Wildcat’s overtime goal, UNH freshman Grayson Downing simply stole the puck from a BU defenseman directly in front of the net and whipped it on goal from point-blank range. Millan got a piece of the puck, but was unable to make the game-saving stop.

“We had many, many opportunities to make the right pass and we turned it over,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “We looked like we were back on our heels an awful lot and very tentative and they took it in.”

This performance was his best of what has been an impressive senior campaign for Millan, in which he has started all but four games. Before Friday night’s effort, his highest save total on the season was also in an overtime loss: BU’s 3-2 loss to Boston College in the Beanpot Championship game.

Those two games proved something that was already apparent since his freshman year at BU – that Millan is a big-game goaltender. As a freshman in 2009, Millan had a 2.44 goals against average during the Terriers’ nine-game national championship run. That was also the year he was named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Rookie of the Year for his standout play.

“He has been the backbone of our team for the last four years ever since I have been here. He is a big reason we were able to win a championship in 2009 and he was part of the reason that the previous two seasons weren’t as bad as they could have been,” Connolly said. “He is a world-class goalie as far as college is concerned and I think he is one of the best in the country.”

Winning the national championship is not the only mark Millan has left on BU hockey throughout his career. Earlier this season, Millan set the record for career wins (79) and saves (3,544), while he set the record for saves in a season (1,085) his junior year.

“He’s got almost every record we have here as a goaltender. He’s having a terrific senior season. He’s had a terrific career,” Parker said. “He deserved a much better fate tonight, that’s for sure.”

Flat Terriers fall to Wildcats in first game of Hockey East quarterfinals

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

With less than five minutes remaining in the first overtime of the No. 6 Boston University’s 3-2 double-overtime loss to the University of New Hampshire, Wildcat goaltender Casey DeSmith kicked a rebound out to his left, just a few feet in front of where junior forward Ross Gaudet was waiting. There was nothing between Gaudet, the puck, and a virtually empty net, but Gaudet could not reach the rebound fast enough to play the hero for BU.

Instead, UNH freshman Grayson Downing took the spotlight, as he potted the game-winner two minutes into the second overtime to lift the Wildcats to the 3-2 game 1 victory.

Gaudet’s missed opportunity was one of many for the Terriers (21-13-1), who were outplayed, out-shot and out-skated all night long by the Wildcats (15-17-3). The only bright spot for the Terriers was the play of senior goaltender Kieran Millan, who set a new career record for saves in a game with 47 saves on Friday night.

By virtue of the loss, BU will need to win the final two games of the best-of-three series in order to advance to the Hockey East semifinals. Following Friday night’s game, BU coach Jack Parker singled out the team’s skating as one of the key reasons for BU’s underwhelming play.

“I thought my team looked absolutely legless tonight, from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” Parker said. “I thought the lack of speed on our part and the great speed on UNH’s part, and I don’t mean just up and down the ice, but beating us to pucks … we didn’t deserve the win, but UNH certainly did deserve the win.

“It wasn’t for lack of effort. We looked like we were skating in sand and they looked like they were skating on new ice every shift.”

Despite the team’s fatigued display Friday night, the Terriers took the first lead of the game almost 15 minutes into the first period. The goal came in transition, as sophomore forward Matt Nieto carried the puck deep into the offense zone, then fed a pass to a surging Alex Chiasson. The junior assistant captain undressed both the defender and DeSmith with a deke and a faked shot before slipping the puck in for the score.

But BU’s lead did not stand for long, as UNH tied the game then took the lead less than two minutes later when it scored two goals in 46 seconds. The first tally came when the BU defense failed to control several rebounds low in its own zone. Wildcat sophomore Nick Sorkin capitalized when he picked up a rebound down low and roofed it over senior goaltender Kieran Millan.

UNH took the lead shortly after when UNH sophomore Kevin Goumas sent a light wrister past Millan from the top of the slot to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead with just 1:54 remaining in the frame.

The Terriers did not look much better in the second period. They lost most of the puck battles and could not maintain possession in their offensive zone.

Things seemed to take a turn for the worse for BU when freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera turned the puck over at the top of his own zone, creating a 2-on-1 for UNH. Millan, however, made the save, and Privitera redeemed himself immediately after with a long pass to senior forward Kevin Gilroy, who was waiting at the opposite blue line. Gilroy raced in on a breakaway and beat DeSmith with a forehand-to-backhand move to tie the game at 2-2 with 3:10 left in the period.

But BU’s play deteriorated in the third period. The Terriers were out-shot 18-10 in the frame and seemed especially tired after UNH power play eight minutes in during which the Wildcats pinned BU in its own zone without a line change for 1:41. Then, just four minutes after killing off the penalty, the Terriers played two minutes of open-ice 4-on-4 play due to matching roughing minors assessed to Chiasson and Goumas.

“[We] got exhausted killing the penalty and then it was 4-on-4,” Parker said. “From then on, it was like the ice was tilted I thought. I thought UNH played extremely well the entire game. We struggled to control it in our end and we struggled to control it in their end.”

Parker said the only factor he could think of for the team’s legless play was a flu bug that has been traveling through the team ever since senior goaltender Grant Rollheiser fell ill during the bus ride back from the University of Vermont two weeks ago. Following Friday’s game, Parker mentioned that multiple players did not practice as much as usual this week because of the illness. Still, Parker said he did expect to see or recognize the poorly skating team wearing BU sweaters Friday night.

“It was like I was watching a team that I didn’t recognize tonight, not effort-wise, our skating ability-wise,” Parker said. “We’ll have to see what we can come back with tomorrow.”

Tomorrow will come quickly for both teams. Game 2 of the series is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, just 18 hours after the end of the first game. The 82-minute Game 1, the longest game in the history of Agganis Arena, was the third overtime affair in the last five games for the Terriers and the second in the last six games for the Wildcats.

“I’m sure both teams will be a little tired with the quick turnaround there,” said senior captain Chris Connolly. “It comes down to being mentally prepared and ready to play a full 60 minutes and cutting down on some of the errors and some of the turnovers. We just have to remind the guys [UNH is] feeling the exact same way we are.”

From the Freep: Terriers host Hockey East Quarterfinals against New Hampshire

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Last March, the Boston University men’s hockey team missed out on a trip to the TD Garden for the first time in nine seasons when it dropped its quarterfinal matchup with Northeastern University in three games. That result is something No. 6 BU will look to avoid this season as it confronts the University of New Hampshire on home ice over the weekend.

BU (21-12-1, 17-9-1 Hockey East) enters the matchup with UNH (14-17-3, 11-14-2 Hockey East) after losing its last game of the season to Northeastern, the same team that ended the Terriers’ season last year. The loss came after winning their previous three games, but BU coach Jack parker said it still hurts the Terriers’ momentum entering the weekend.

“I think we would have liked to have gone into the playoffs winning the last two games instead of splitting,” Parker said. “Hopefully they realize that is that, and now we are playing UNH and we’ll see what happens.”

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Video: BU women’s hockey captures Hockey East crown

On Sunday afternoon, the Boston University women’s hockey team won the Women’s Hockey East Championship with a 2-1 double overtime win over Providence College. Daily Free Press staffer Meredith Perri was able to record some of the postgame awards ceremony as well as reaction from men’s hockey coach Jack Parker in the immediate aftermath of the win. A full recap of the game with reaction from women’s coach Brian Durocher will be posted on the blog later tonight.