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Frozen Four notebook

Muse knew ex-backup could be backbone

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / April 5, 2012
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TAMPA - One person who isn’t remotely surprised at the success Boston College goaltender Parker Milner is enjoying is Milner’s predecessor, John Muse.

Muse, currently playing for the Florida Everblades in the ECHL quarterfinals against Greenville, said the signs were there early.

“He’s always been a great goalie,’’ said Muse, reached by telephone in Estero. “I think everybody is seeing that now this year, especially in the last 20 or so games. He’s always worked real hard and he’s always positive and I think that’s brought him a long way.’’

Milner, who will face Minnesota in the Frozen Four Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, has a record of 27-5-0 with a 1.70 goals-against average and .935 save percentage this season.

“He has worked a lot on his mental game just as much as his physical game,’’ Muse said of Milner. “I think that has brought him a long way since freshman year. The last 20 or so games, he’s been the backbone of the team.’’

Given everything BC lost after last season - Muse and several high-scoring forwards - it would have been easy to have middling expectations for the Eagles, but Muse said he doesn’t think anyone in the program truly thought it would be a down year.

“The coaching staff does a great job of recruiting guys who can play in any role they’re needed,’’ he said. “A prime example of that is Barry Almeida. He went from a third- and fourth-line guy to scoring 22 goals this year. When you look at the lineup, you have guys who can play any type of role.’’

Opening dance

Thursday’s first national semifinal features teams that have never been there before - Ferris State and Union. Union is the first ECAC representative in the Frozen Four since Cornell in 2003. In Ferris State’s favor, however, is the Bulldogs’ record against the ECAC this season (7-0). But they have never beaten Union (0-4).

First-year coach Rick Bennett, a Springfield, Mass., native, has picked up right where former coach Nate Leaman (now with Providence College) left off. Bennett, who was a longtime associate coach at the school prior to the promotion, has made a seamless transition.

“We obviously are all familiar with Coach Bennett,’’ said sophomore goaltender Troy Grosenick. “He recruited us here. The best thing that Coach Bennett did is he kept the things that Coach Leaman had put in place that had started to grow the program. And then he built on that and he brought a little bit of his own flavor in. And it’s been real successful and real enjoyable for all of us.’’

Junior forward Jeremy Welsh said much is the same except maybe the personalities of the two bench bosses.

“Similar culture, obviously different personalities and different approaches to the game a little bit,’’ said Welsh. “I think we’re a little bit more loose out there, practices are a little more lighthearted.’’

Degree of respect

Minnesota coach Don Lucia said he wouldn’t describe the matchup against BC as a rivalry so much as it’s a mutual-admiration society.

“I don’t know if there’s so much rivalry as respect,’’ said Lucia, whose last meeting against BC was March 29, 2008, when the Eagles beat the Gophers, 5-2, in the Northeast Regional on their way to the NCAA title. “You certainly look at what they’ve done in their history, it’s very similar to Minnesota. Jerry [York] got there and they’ve just been on a phenomenal run. They play a style where they want to recruit talented players and let them get up and down the rink and let them play. I think we try to do the same thing. That’s why [Thursday night] should be highly entertaining.’’

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

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