John Muse has had a reputation as a big-game goaltender ever since posting a 1.67 goals-against average and .942 save percentage in four NCAA games as a freshman two years ago to help Boston College win the national championship.
After the junior allowed six goals on 32 shots in last Saturday's Hockey East title game, that reputation was in question. But in BC's 3-1 win over Alaska-Fairbanks on Saturday, Muse put an end to that questioning.
The East Falmouth, Mass., native stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced, including a handful in the final seven minutes to preserve a one-goal lead.
"Certainly one of the reason we're advancing is the play of John Muse," said BC coach Jerry York. "He made some incredible saves."
One person who didn't have any questions about how Muse would respond after last Saturday was Muse himself.
"My confidence didn't waver at all," he said. "I know I can play pretty well."
He played particularly well late in the game, when the Nanooks came at him with everything they had in an effort to tie the game. Senior Dion Knelsen had two great chances on one shift with less than six minutes to go, but Muse robbed him both times, first with his left shoulder and then with his blocker.
In the second period, he made three saves in the span of about 30 seconds during a penalty kill, including one on Andy Taranto while the freshman was alone at the top of the crease.
"He played fantastic tonight," Taranto said. "He had a great save on a second chance on the power play there. You can tell he's had a lot of experience in net."
Time and again, a big save by Muse temporarily deflated the Nanooks while giving the Eagles a quick burst of energy. That was the exact formula that led to BC's go-ahead goal early in the third.
Muse made a pad save on a 3-on-2 and the Eagles came right back the other way on a rush that ended with Pat Mullane tipping home a pass from Patch Alber.
"You need that sometimes," said BC senior captain Matt Price. "You need your goalie to backstop you, and he's made some unbelievable saves. You can sense that on the bench. A huge save will pick up your bench real quick and turn the momentum the other way. He's been doing that a lot as of late, and tonight was no different."
As for that reputation as a big-game goalie, Muse is quick to deflect credit away from himself.
"It's not only me," Muse said. "I have to give a lot of credit to the defensemen and forwards as well. We played great team defense tonight."