Frozen Four Extras: The Big Bad Terriers
While the Caps take the day to recharge their batteries, here's some more on the Frozen Four:
With all the attention that has been paid to the three teams people may not have picked in their Frozen Four bracket to reach Verizon Center, Boston University seems to have been made out to be the big bad wolf. To many, they seem to represent the favorite who exists purely to squash the hopes and dreams of other programs.
But when you think about it, the Terriers are playing for their first national title since 1994-95 when Chris Drury and Jay Pandolfo were still playing for Jack Parker. The scary thing about that team, was Drury was then a fourth-line center. "That's how good that team was," Parker said.
"Oh, we're hearing stuff like that a lot right now," said co-captain John McCarthy. "Those teams have gotten hot at the right time and they all beat some really good teams to get here. But we're not really worried about the pressure too much, we've just got to play our game....We've been working for this for a long time. Last year I thought we had a great team but we struggled, it had to be my most frustrating year at BU. We didn't even make NCAAs."
For teams like Miami, who the Terriers will face in the national championship tomorrow, playing for the school's first ever NCAA title in any sport is one kind of pressure. But at BU where there's a long line of history, players want to live up to that reputation.
"We walked down our hallways with pictures of national championship teams," Matt Gilroy said after the Terriers' 5-4 nail-biter of a win against Vermont. "We look at it every day and then you come out and you look at the banners and the traditions there. We'd love to add to it, that's been one of our goals this season and we're one win away."
The Young Goalie
The Terriers held a one-goal lead when there was an off-sides called with about a minute remaining in the semifinal against the Catamounts and Gilroy skated over to freshman goaltender Kieran Millan. The Hobey Baker finalist told his young teammate to just "have fun with it."
"For myself Vermont's been a tough team to play against," Millan said. "They shoot through traffic, make it hard to do my job. But I don't think I played as well as I could have. I left in a couple soft goals....but I was able to come back in the third period, make some stops when I needed to and the rest of the team did everything they could to help me out."
When Gilroy skated over to offer some encouragement, Millan smiled and told the co-captain to get back to the faceoff. That everything would be fine. Millan was originally platooned with fellow freshman Grant Rollheiser, but emerged as the starting goaltender after Rollheiser was sidelined with an injury.
"He's not a kid that gets rattled," Parker said. "I didn't think he looked nervous at all. He made a couple of fabulous saves. More than a couple, but I thought he could have had a couple that went in that usually don't go by him. So it was a little out of character....but I don't remember thinking to myself on the bench he looks jumpy."
If you didn't already, check out my story from today's paper on Hobey Baker finalist Matt Gilroy. But there were plenty of things I had to leave out of the story.
Like when Parker, who has seen decades worth of the best college hockey players, told me the thing that impressed him most about Gilroy was how he's handled his senior year. He also is happy to admit that he'd rather be lucky than right, and is glad that Gilroy didn't listen when he told him not to walk on to the team in 2005-06.
"I thought he was going to be a hard guy to coach," Parker said. "He was so good, if things went wrong, I wondered if he would think well I should have signed. But it was obvious he had dedicated himself to making the little things better. The other thing is what an incredible leader he is....He's really been the straw that stirs that drink that way too, it's like having another assistant coach in the dressing room."
The Gilroys didn't even know what hockey was before their sons wanted to take up the sport. Dad Frank played basketball and was drafted by the 76ers, but one day a young Matt came home and told his mom he was going to be a hockey player.
"She just said Matt what are you talking about. She took me to the rink and put me in figure skates to see if I would stick it out," Gilroy said. "About a month later I got hockey skates and I just never stopped."
Although his dad is 6 foot 6 and his older brother is 6 foot 5, Gilroy was an extremely late bloomer. For those who don't believe the now 6 foot 2, 202 pound defenseman, he shows them his first drivers license. He was 5 foot 7 and 110 pounds.
"I looked like a little alien in high school," Gilroy said. "I just didn't grow. My dad was like, 'Matt don't worry it's going to happen.' And I'd say 'Dad, it's never going to happen, I'm the short one.' Then it finally did when I was 18, 19, 20 I've only just gotten used to my body. I think it was best for me though, because I had to learn how to work hard, everything on the ice was an uphill battle because of my size. Now I'm pretty strong out there."
Gilroy has only missed one game since he cracked the lineup after that exhibition game his freshman year.
"I was a minus-4 one game my freshman year. It was either me or the All American defenseman, Danny Spang who was going to sit," Gilroy said with a laugh. "So I wasn't surprised. It was my fault. Coach has smacked me upside the head a few times, but that's the best thing about coach it doesn't matter who you are. You've got to come to play every night for Coach Parker."
Bog at the Frozen Four
* How Alex Ovechkin is represented.
* Jesus and Jews. (Yeah, we don't know either.)
* Also, the RedHawks and their playoff mustaches. Yes, I said mustaches. I'm working on a story on Miami for tomorrow's paper and will have some RedHawk extras as well so be sure to check back.
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