Milner shows mastery in net
His 41-save effort keeps Bears at bay
Boston College goaltender Parker Milner had a career-high 41 saves Saturday night against Maine in the Hockey East championship at TD Garden.
Milner blocked some tough early chances by the Black Bears and aside from a Brian Flynn goal in the second period at 7:37, he was unbeatable.
“Winning the Beanpot is cool,’’ said Milner, who improved to 25-5-0 and was named the all-tournament netminder. “But [winning the Hockey East regular-season title and championship] is the mark of the best team in the league for six or seven months. In many ways, those are more telltale accomplishments. They speak to how hard we’ve worked as a team and the leadership we’ve gotten throughout the year.’’
Milner said losing back-to-back games to Maine on Jan. 20-21 was a jolt that the Eagles needed because they haven’t lost since, winning 15 straight.
“Just getting swept by a team is a huge wake-up call for us,’’ said Milner. “Between the captains and the coaches, we made up our minds that we were going to change things from there. Just sitting at dinner watching BU and Maine play [Friday night], we love playing BU because we don’t like them. Maine, we wanted a second chance at them because that was the lowest point of our season and we wanted a second crack. We’re really happy with the effort that we gave tonight.’’
Despite being on the wrong side of the score, Flynn had a terrific outing, tying tournament most valuable player Johnny Gaudreau with a game-high seven shots that included his 18th goal of the year. Flynn had a couple of opportunities at the start of the opening period but Milner came up big. “It’s a big game and we came right out of the gate in the first couple of shifts and we were rarin’ to go,’’ said Flynn. “We came out hard and got some pucks in on the forecheck and I think after we all got our first shift in, then we kind of sat back a little bit and [BC] made some nice plays.’’ Flynn said the fact that the Black Bears are still alive makes all the difference in the world and they will try to learn from the loss. “Going into next weekend, playing in the [NCAA] regional for the first time since I’ve been here, there are going to be some of the same pressures,’’ said Flynn. “We were a little too tentative in the first period so, hopefully, we can learn from that and have a better start to the game [next weekend].’’ . . . In addition to Gaudreau and Milner, the rest of the All-Tournament team was Maine defenseman Will O’Neill, BC defenseman Brian Dumoulin, BU forward Alex Chiasson, and Maine forward Joey Diamond . . . The 85 shots on goal set a record for most in regulation of a Hockey East final, besting the mark of 83 by BC and BU in 1986.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.