Milner Wins In His First Start
From the minute freshman goaltender Parker Milner found out he'd be starting until the minute the puck dropped, "the smile never left my face," Milner said.
"I knew I'd get my chance to play this year, but to get to start the home opener was pretty big," he continued.
But the smile went away quickly in the first period as a resilient Merrimack team battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the first period.
After a late first period goal tied the game, Milner had a chance to settle down in the locker room.
"I just told myself, this is what you've worked your whole life for – don't let one bad period get you down," Milner said. "[John Muse] was really helpful too. He's a guy who's won a national championship – so when he talks you definitely want to listen to what he says."
Milner shut out Merrimack for the remaining two periods as BC went on to win 4-3.
"I thought Parker played really well. We're fortunate enough to have some good depth at the goaltender position," said coach Jerry York. "[Chris] Venti has had some good practices as well."
"We have a definite #1 goalie in John Muse, but we've also got two very capable guys who will play this season," York continued.
After two years of playing in every single game, John Muse sat out on Friday night as he continues his recovery from offseason hip surgery. York has continued to insist that while Muse is certainly the team's starting goalie, they want to go easy on him as he gets back to 100%.
"He's getting there. We still haven't seen him play back-to-back games, to see how he feels after that," York said. He reported that Muse felt fine after Sunday's game, a 5-3 loss at Merrimack as the Warriors split the home-and-home series.
As of now, it is a day-to-day decision on who will be between the pipes for this weekend's games on Friday night at New Hampshire and on Saturday night at home against Northeastern. But based on York's comments about back-to-back games, it's a safe bet that Milner or Venti will get a chance in one of the games.
Milner, who was Patrick Wey's teammate last season on the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL, first got in contact with York and Boston College in March of this year.
"At the time, I thought I was being recruited to come in 2010," he said.
But the situation in goal changed dramatically when it was announced that Muse would be undergoing off-season hip surgery.
"At that point, Coach York called me and we talked about moving up and coming in this season," he said. "I came for a visit and fell in love with the place – everything about it, the school, the guys on the team. It was a great fit for me and I committed to come this fall."
"It's been everything I've imagined so far. It's always been a dream to play hockey here," said Milner, who backstopped Avon Old Farms to a New England Prep School championship in 2008.
When asked for early impressions about playing in Hockey East, Milner said he was struck by the league's competitive depth.
"It's really hard to win in this league every single time out," he said. "Especially on the road – there are some real tough places to play. You have to be on your game every night."
Playing It Safe
Chris Kreider, BC's sensational freshman forward, has been sidelined this week with concussion symptoms after taking a big hit on Sunday at Merrimack. Kreider was laid out late in the first period and did not return. Since then, he has been held out of practice and will not play on Friday night at UNH.
"Whenever you've got an issue with concussion symptoms, we always like to err on the conservative side," York said.
Kreider has not been ruled out of Saturday night's game against Northeastern, but York seems to be leaning toward more rest for the winger.
"He has a series of tests he has to pass before he can be cleared, and he's not there yet," York said.
Kreider has two assists and eight shots on goal so far this season, skating on a line with Brian Gibbons and Ben Smith, who have been BC's two most productive players this year.
The Week Ahead
The last time BC traveled to Durham, N.H. was in March when the Eagles dismantled the Wildcats in a two game sweep in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. It marked a change in fortune for BC at the Whittemore Center, where they have often struggled in recent years, including three consecutive regular season losses from 2007-2009.
UNH comes into the weekend at 2-4-1 after a horrendous weekend trip to Wisconsin. The Badgers swept the two game series against UNH by a combined score of 10-2.
The bright spot for UNH this season has been sophomore defenseman Blake Kessel, who has three goals and seven assists already on the year, leading the team with 10 points.
Northeastern will travel to Conte on Saturday after what's sure to be a hotly contested home game on Friday night against BU.
The Huskies are currently riding a two game losing streak after dropping their first two conference games two weekends ago, 4-2 at UNH and 3-1 at UMass-Lowell. They had last weekend off.
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