BOSTON — The class next to John Muse's name in the program says he's a freshman, but the Boston College goaltender has played more minutes this season than some goaltenders play in their first two years combined.
Muse's freshman season has had its ups and downs. In a stretch of games right before the tournament, from Feb. 15 to March 7, Muse and the Eagles struggled, going just 1-5-1, and almost missed out on home ice in the opening round.
But, after stopping all 29 shots he faced in the Hockey East Championship at the TD Banknorth Garden, a 4-0 triumph for the Eagles, Muse cemented himself as, "the real deal."
If you include Friday night's triple-overtime win over New Hampshire, Muse ended the tournament with a shutout streak of 131:20 — roughly 61/2 periods.
Overall in the tournament, he went 4-0, with a 1.20 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage. He stopped 142 of 148 shots.
"Johnny came up huge for us, especially in the first period," said BC head coach Jerry York, whose Eagles have now won two-straight Hockey East titles. "He made some big saves early. I thought we could have easily been down 3-1 after the first, because they had so many good chances, but Johnny came up big."
Even more impressive is how he arrived at the title. Friday and Saturday night combined, he played a little over eight periods of hockey including the marathon semifinal game.
"I've never played a game as long as (Friday) night," said Muse. "But, the trainers did a real good job of helping get the legs back. Everyone was tired, but they got us in the cold pool and in the hot tub and it really kept the legs fresh."
In the second overtime on Friday, the East Falmouth native was run over by UNH's Mike Radja. He was face-down on the ice for a few minutes before completing the game.
"Yeah, I was a little sore this morning," he admitted. "But again, the trainers got me ready. I was in the room early and we made it work."
Muse has been making it work all season. It's not everyday that a freshman goaltender, on one of the premiere teams in college hockey, plays every second of the season.
"I expected to play a lot this season, but not every minute," he said. "It's been a surprise, but a pleasant surprise."
Even in the games down the stretch in which BC struggled, Muse still played relatively well. In four of those seven games, he allowed only two goals four times.
"It's tough to play every minute as a freshman," said BC junior Nathan Gerbe, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, college hockey's version of the Heisman Trophy. "You have to give the kid all the credit. He came in, replaced Cory Schneider, that's tough.
"There hasn't been a game that hasn't been a game that he lost. He kept us in every game, and for a young freshman, you have to give him all the credit for that," said Gerbe.
Muse and the rest of the Eagles already know that they'll be in the NCAA Tournament — the tournament championship brings an automatic berth. They'll find out where the committee places them at 11:30 this morning, when the pairings are announced.