Eagles expect extraordinary efforts
TAMPA - As much as Boston College’s offense appeared to be the star of the Eagles’ 6-1 victory over Minnesota in their Frozen Four semifinal Thursday night, the postgame talk was all about Parker Milner.
The Eagles’ junior netminder surrendered one goal, his first of the NCAA Tournament, at 1:26 of the third period with BC sporting a 4-0 lead.
“Parker has been great for us all year,’’ said junior right wing Steven Whitney, who scored BC’s first goal and assisted on the second. “He made the stops tonight that nobody expects him to make, they were extraordinary saves, and he made them and it gave us momentum for the game.
“They had a few great chances that he stopped that kept it at 0-0 and 1-0. He was a key factor for us tonight.’’
Junior defenseman Patrick Wey, who has played with Milner since they were kids growing up in Pittsburgh, said having him back there was a definite relief.
“He was really solid,’’ said Wey. “It’s funny, we’ve come to expect big saves like that from him, but that was incredible.’’
Wey said Minnesota really came out skating hard and threw everything at BC early.
“You have to give them credit,’’ said Wey. “They’re a really good team and they’re fast.’’
From a psychological standpoint, Wey said to come out of the first period with a 1-0 lead was pivotal.
“It was huge,’’ he said. “We knew we had to play better and it was nice knowing that we had a little bit of a cushion to get our game back on track after the first.’’
Wey admitted it took a little bit of time.
“[The Gophers] had a couple of shifts in the second when they were all over us and we were just trying to weather the storm defensively,’’ he said. “Part of our game plan was just to play solid defensively. We knew they liked to jump up in the offense and we wanted to play defense first from there on out.’’
BC delivered the knockout punch with a pair of goals under two minutes apart late in the second period. Chris Kreider’s came at 17:45 and Paul Carey’s first of two was at 19:43, which sent the Eagles into the second intermission with a 4-0 lead.
When the Golden Gophers got on the board in the third period, BC answered right back just 22 seconds later.
“When we scored right after they scored, that was another huge goal,’’ said Wey. “We just kept saying, ‘Let’s get the next goal, let’s get the next goal,’ and that’s been our mentality, to keep our foot on the gas pedal.’’
Special teams have been a strong part of BC’s game this season. On the man advantage, the Eagles came into the game ranked 11th in the nation with a success rate of 21.5 percent. However, during their 18-game winning streak, they have converted on 19 of 63 opportunities (30.2 percent) and have at least one power-play goal in 18 of their last 20 games. In the Frozen Four semifinal, BC was 2 for 4 on the power play and killed off all four Minnesota power plays. On the penalty kill, BC came in ranked third with an 88 percent kill rate. Of their 43 games this season, the Eagles didn’t allow a power-play goal in 26 of them, including 18 of the last 24 . . . Ferris State, which tallied twice in the third period to finish off Union, has outscored opponents, 53-31, in the third period.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.