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Beanpot Notebook

Milner’s been an emblematic Eagle

His new confidence in line with team’s

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / February 13, 2012
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Over the last four games, Boston College coach Jerry York has seen a change in junior goaltender Parker Milner.

Milner has shown a renewed confidence and that has translated into four consecutive victories for him and the Eagles, during which BC (18-10-1) has outscored opponents, 20-7.

York has used three goaltenders this year - Milner, senior Chris Venti, and freshman Brian Billett - and expressed a desire for at least one of them to seize the No. 1 job and make it his own.

Milner had done it at the beginning of the year and appears to be making a case for himself again. The team hopes he can keep it going tonight when BC faces Boston University (17-9-1) in the 60th Beanpot Tournament championship at TD Garden.

“Right now we’re at an all-time confidence level from the coaching staff, from the team, and from Parker,’’ said York. “I think he’s playing, positional wise, confidence wise, poise . . . at the very top of his game right now. These four games have been a terrific boost to all of us. Goaltending is like quarterbacking or a starting pitcher in baseball. You just need them to be real good factors in the game.’’

Milner struggled in mid-November, which caused York to go to Billett and then Venti. The coach said it was a difficult time for Milner.

“I think he was concerned with how his play was and probably his position on our club,’’ said York. “I think those were all factors. We try to give every kid an honest chance, whether it’s in practice or a game situation. We knew that challenge with Johnny Muse gone was who the goaltender was going to be. We were waiting for one of those goaltenders to step up and [show], ‘My play warrants more play.’ I think recently that Parker has given us that.’’

Milner goes into tonight with a .909 save percentage and 2.25 goals-against average overall and is at .904 and 2.37 in Hockey East games.

Lessons learned

The Eagles are gunning for their third straight Beanpot title and one of the players who has been highly productive of late is junior right wing Chris Kreider.

Kreider, who always has turned it on in the second half, has 8 points - four goals - during BC’s four-game winning streak.

“He’s been a superior athlete,’’ said York. “But now all the nuances of being a hockey player are being absorbed by him and he’s learning what makes a hockey player as opposed to just a great athlete playing hockey.

“He’s shown improvement in all facets. It’s great to watch. When he’s at the top of his game like he is now, he is certainly a major force on the ice. He just seems to get better as the year goes on. I kind of like it.’’

Back on beam

Freshman BC left wing Johnny Gaudreau started the season on a tear, with 10 points in his first nine games. But then, like many rookies, he hit a bit of a rough patch offensively with just 5 points in his next 14 games.

Recently though, he has caught fire again. In his last six contests, he has 9 points - six goals.

“He started very well and then he hit the wall, which a lot of freshmen do,’’ said York. “He just struggled, but his work habits and his daily practice sessions never tailed off at all. Even though his game production tailed and his impact on the game tailed, he stayed level-headed as far as work habits. Now, he’s gone through that brick wall and we’re seeing a lot of what we saw from Johnny during October and November.’’

Seeking consolation

Harvard (7-7-10) and Northeastern (11-13-3) will meet in this afternoon’s consolation game. The Crimson are coming off a tie with Rensselaer on Friday, their 10th of the season, which ties the college hockey record. The Huskies are coming off a 3-2 setback at New Hampshire.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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