Milner Solidifies Spot In The Frozen Four
Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
WORCESTER — Two nights, two shutouts.
One of the biggest stories of this season’s Boston College men’s hockey team has been goaltender Parker Milner. After starting the season hot, the junior struggled midseason, lost the job, worked his way back into the starting role, and has since gone on a 17-game win streak. In this past weekend’s NCAA Regional Tournament, Milner headlined a defense that had two consecutive shutouts and led BC to the Frozen Four.
“Parker’s a competitor,” said team captain Tommy Cross. “He’s a hard worker. He’s earned his minutes. Just the confidence that has developed over the year—the confidence in himself has just helped his game, and he’s gotten better since day one. He started the season hot, and now he’s having a hot finish. I just think [that’s] the way he plays, and the way he’s come to practice every day even when things weren’t going well.”
Head coach Jerry York credits Milner’s play as the catalyst behind his team’s strong finish to the season, and believes that his confidence has trickled down to the rest of the team.
“There’s an old axiom, ‘If you’re going to have a good club, and you’re going to be a successful coach, you have a ‘G.A.G.G’ rule,’” he said. “‘Get a good goaltender.’ That ability to save pucks helps the confidence of all of our players. We’ve just become a better defensive team.”
After defeating Air Force 2-0 in their first contest of the weekend, the Eagles were matched against the top scoring team in the country, Minnesota-Duluth. Milner, who recorded 20 saves against Air Force, followed with another perfect night against UMD. He finished the night with 33 saves, including 18 in the third period.
While the defensive effort had a huge impact on the two consecutive shutout performances, Milner was able to make some spectacular plays between the pipes. In the first period, the junior was peppered with shots, including a difficult body save on a breakaway with 13:40 left in the period. Milner’s ability to position himself for the save and nullify second opportunities kept his team ahead.
The first and second periods saw Milner make 15 combined saves. The third period was a different challenge, as UMD went into desperation mode and began to attack the BC defense furiously.
Forward J.T. Brown broke toward the net all by himself on what looked like a sure UMD score, but Milner read the move, slid to his left, and blocked the shot at the last second.
“I actually played with J.T. in juniors,” Milner joked. “I’d like to say I remember his moves, but I don’t. He made a shot fake coming down, and pulled it to his backhand, and I was lucky to get a blocker on it.”
Later in the frame, a penalty to defenseman Patrick Wey left BC down a man. UMD utilized this power-play opportunity to attack the Eagles’ defensive zone. On one shot in a particular barrage of firings, Mike Seidel made a great move in front of the net, spinning his body away from the defender. Although he got off the shot, Milner made a diving stop to knock the puck away.
In an effort to secure the shutout, Milner finished his perfect night after a turnover in front of the net nearly proved costly. The turnover was just between the circles, giving Milner little time to react to the sudden one-man rush. Even so, Milner seemed unfazed by the attack, blocking the puck with his body and finalizing the shutout victory for his team.
While many have remarked at the change in Milner’s game throughout the season, he is quick to praise his teammates and coaches for keeping their faith in him and helping him stay on track.
“I think a lot’s different,” he said when asked about his play’s transformation. “I think our team is a lot different. Everyone’s playing really well defensively, and that defense leads to a strong offense. A lot of our success is due to a full team effort.
“I have to thank Coach York for throwing me back in there, my goalie Coach [Logan], Coach [Cavanaugh], and Coach [Brown] for being down there in the morning, working on things with me. I don’t think I would’ve been able to give the effort that I am without those guys.”