College Hockey: Boston College players eye return home

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Parker Milner knows a thing or two about winning a national title in college hockey.

So does Patrick Wey.

They also know quite a bit about one another.

The two are seniors on the defending national champion Boston College hockey team, ranked in the top five for most of this season.

They also are both from Mt. Lebanon, where a love of the Penguins and cold mornings at the rink first put them on the same team at age 7.

Milner, a goalie, and Wey, a defenseman, are trying their hardest to put aside dreams of returning to April's Frozen Four, which will be staged at Consol Energy Center.

It would just be too perfect.

"It's definitely in the back of our head, Patrick and I, the Pittsburgh guys," said Milner, whose NCAA tournament .982 save percentage a year ago broke a 40-year-old record. "It would be the perfect story for us to finish our senior year and go to the Frozen Four in our hometown.

"We're trying to separate ourselves. It's tough to get there."

Wey can barely let himself think of the possibility, and only reflects when nudged on the subject.

"If I let myself think about it, yeah, it'd be amazing to play in another Frozen Four and have it be back in Pittsburgh," Wey said. "But we've got a lot to worry about right now with the way we've been playing lately."

The team surged to the Frozen Four a year ago in part thanks to Milner taking over the starting job and winning the final 19 games of the season. The Eagles beat Ferris State, 4-1, for the title.

To return to the tournament, Boston College has a few hurdles to overcome.

Milner is 15-6-2 this season with a 2.54 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. Undrafted, he is considered among the top talents in college hockey.

The Eagles ranked No. 4 in the latest USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll with a 15-7-2 record, and No. 5 in the USCHO.com poll. The team has won three national championships in the past five years, but has never won back-to-back titles.

Wey said he has never seen focus such as Milner's.

"What shows up on the weekends is how hard he works during the week," Wey said. "He moves really well and is able to cover a lot of net. He plays the puck well. I could talk all day about [his strengths]."

He has been turned away more than once in practice when he dares to try to beat his old friend.

"He pretty much knows all my moves -- which is two," said Wey, suppressing a laugh. "It's so demoralizing. He's just waiting for me when I'm finished with my move and catches the puck nonchalantly. I'm not exactly an offensive juggernaut."

But their communication on the ice is layered with the silent understanding of the other's tendencies that comes from the time they've spent playing together.

Sometimes, when an opponent dumps the puck into the Eagles zone, Wey will turn in stride and know exactly where to go.

"I sort of know what he's going to do with it because we've played together for so long," Wey said. "He's pretty much in the zone when he's playing. I just try to stay out of his way and not say anything that's going to mess with his focus."

Said Milner: "It's one of those things that when he's out there I'm really comfortable, and I hope he feels the same."

Both players were on the same youth teams together, then played two years for Mt. Lebanon before Wey left to join a junior hockey team in Waterloo, Iowa. A year later Milner headed to Waterloo after playing a season at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut.

Both then committed to Boston College where they've won two national titles, and maybe have a shot at a third.

National polls

There was little movement in the national polls again this week with Minnesota (18-4-4) retaining the No. 1 position in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and USCHO.com poll for a sixth consecutive week.

The Golden Gophers were followed by Quinnipiac (19-3-4), Miami University of Ohio (17-6-5), Boston College and New Hampshire (16-7-2) in the USA Today poll.

The USCHO.com poll has the same top three but has New Hampshire ranked No. 4, followed by Boston College at No. 5.

Quinnipiac currently is the hottest team in the NCAA, boasting a 19-game unbeaten streak, its latest a 6-2 win against Yale.

Anniversary team

Robert Morris hockey fans can vote for the league's 10th Anniversary Team by voting on the website, www.AtlanticHockeyonline.com.

Former Robert Morris players Nathan Longpre and Denny Urban are on the ballot.

Robert Morris schedule

Robert Morris, which is coming off of a two-game sweep of last place Sacred Heart, will be tested with a game tonight against Mercyhurst at home. Mercyhurst is 11-6-1 in Atlantic Hockey Association play and second in the league standings while Robert Morris is 9-8-1 and tied for sixth place. Start time is 7:05 p.m. The Colonials then play host to ninth-place RIT at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Hockey Weekend in America

Nine different college hockey games will be telecast Feb. 15-17 as part of USA Hockey's Hockey Weekend in America. Featured are Michigan State, Bowling Green, Maine, Boston University, Ferris State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Notre Dame and Northern Michigan. Visit www.hockeyweekendacrossamerica.com for a complete schedule.

Beanpot

Kevin Roy scored three goals as Northeastern opened the 61st Annual Beanpot tournament with a 3-2 victory against Boston U. Monday night at TD Garden in Boston. Milner stopped 19 shots as three-time defending champion Boston College defeated Harvard, 4-1, in the second game. The consolation and final are Monday.

mobilehome - sportscollegedistrict

Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter: @JennMenendez.


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