Take a look at the roster of players from Boston College’s 2012 Frozen Four championship team. You’ll see a lineup of skaters from predictable hockey hotbeds like Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Colorado and—Mt. Lebanon? Yes, goalie Parker Milner and defenseman Pat Wey played key roles in the Eagles’ championship, and both of them got their start right here.
Milner, of Vernon Drive, credits his love of hockey to his parents: “They took me to the Stanley Cup Finals when I was 18 months old, so I’ve been a die-hard Penguins fan since then. I started skating when I was about 3, and once it was time for me to lace up the skates, that was the only sport I wanted to play.”
The 22-year-old said he received most of his early hockey experience at Mt. Lebanon. “I took skating lessons there, and the first real goalie camp I attended was held at the Rec Center. That’s where I learned the fundamentals, and that’s the beginning of everyone’s career. I played in a rec league from about age 5 to 7, and then from there I went to the Mt. Lebanon Hornets for about three years.”
Wey, 21, also learned the basics in Mt. Lebanon. “I was 4 or 5 years old and I got into hockey because my brother played; he was older than me and I would go to his games. He played for the Mt. Lebanon Hornets when he was younger, and the Pittsburgh Hornets, and he played for Mt. Lebanon High School, too, and I was always at the Rec Center watching his games. When I was little I wanted to do everything he was doing so that kind of got me into it.”
Wey’s family now lives in New Jersey, having moved from Hoodridge Drive in Mt. Lebanon when his father changed jobs a few years ago. “I loved Mt. Lebanon, I was definitely fortunate to grow up there, and the rink being so close was definitely helpful,” he said. His parents are able to go to more of their son’s games because of living in New Jersey, but Wey said, “I still find time every summer to come back (to Mt. Lebanon) because all of my friends are there.”
Interestingly, both players took similar paths to Boston College. For his junior year of high school, Milner went to Avon Old Farms in Connecticut, then played on the Waterloo Black Hawks Junior A team in the United States Hockey League as a senior. Wey had already gone to Waterloo starting his junior year, and both players were then accepted at Boston College.
For Wey, it was the answer to a childhood dream. “Ever since I was younger I wanted to go to Boston College. My mom has something from third grade class that I wrote, that when I grow up I wanted to play for the Boston College Eagles then go on and play for some NHL team. When they offered me a scholarship I was so excited.”
And getting to play with his hometown friend made the experience even better. “That was one of the coolest parts about Waterloo and Boston College, I went to Waterloo and then (the next year) Parker came out, and we got to play together, and we both committed to go to BC. It was awesome.”
Boston College won the national championship in their freshman year, but neither played a significant role, so 2012 was much more satisfying. Milner was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, going 4-0 with a .50 goals-against-average, and defeating Ferris State 4-1 in the final game. “Even months later, it’s hard for me to allow it to sink in. It was so fun to be a part of (as a freshman), but the experience I had winning it the second time, getting more playing time, was just so much different. And to do it with one of my best friends, Patrick, is something I’ll never forget.”
Wey also turned in a good performance on defense, after recovering from an injury earlier in the season that caused him to miss 12 games. “It goes without saying how special it was. It was even better because the first year we won it I was out with an illness, so I had to watch them from the stands. (This time) it didn’t even hit me on the ice while we were jumping over the boards and all theses streamers were coming down. It was just so much fun and I’ll never forget it.”
Wey is happy to be playing at BC, but the second part of his childhood dream also came true when he was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 4th round in the 2009 entry draft. He has attended four of the Caps’ development camps and was offered a contract but opted to stay in college for now. “I knew it wasn’t my time, I wasn’t ready yet to make the jump to the pros. I figured being at BC for another year to work on some of my weaknesses, and finishing my schooling, wouldn’t hurt. But at the end of this year I’ll be ready and willing to make the next step.”
While Milner has not been drafted, he attended the Boston Bruins development camp this past summer. But for both young men, their thoughts are on their senior year at Boston College. The Eagles were the pre-season favorites to win Hockey East, and if they make it to the Frozen Four finals again, the championship games will be held at the CONSOL Center in Pittsburgh April 11-13.
“That would be awesome,” Wey said. “Having it be in Pittsburgh is the added incentive to try to reach it. That would be such a great feeling.” Milner added, “Yeah, that would be quite an end to my time at BC, so hopefully we can get there.”