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Even more unlikely than the Terriers' last-minute title comeback was the rise of a walk-on to the nation's top player

AMID THE freneticfinal moments of the third period of the Frozen Four title game in Washington,D.C., last Saturday night, Boston University senior defenseman Matt Gilroy wasan oasis of calm. With his heavily favored team trailing by a goal, theTerriers captain faked a point-blank shot in the slot, causing Miami (Ohio)forward Justin Mercier to slide past him. Then Gilroy threaded a backhand passto center Nick Bonino, who beat Redhawks goalie Cody Reichard from the rightcircle, tying the score at 3--3 with 17 seconds left.

The play,symbolic of the patient determination that has defined Gilroy's career,highlighted one of the most stirring finishes in college hockey history. TheTerriers, down 3--1, had pulled goalie Kieran Millan with 3:31 to play beforeZach Cohen's backhander closed the gap to 3--2 with 59 seconds left. BU wouldwin 11:47 into overtime on a goal by defenseman Colby Cohen.

"Gilroy'splay saved the day," says BU coach Jack Parker. "In the heat of anymoment, I don't know if I can name a better one." Parker has seen a few.His 30th tournament victory—he's been coaching BU since 1973—is the most inNCAA history, one more than BC's Jerry York.

Parker, though,didn't have such kind words for Gilroy in 2005. Two years removed from his daysas a 5'7", 140-pound forward at St. Mary's High in Manhasset, N.Y., andplaying in the Eastern Junior league, Gilroy asked to join BU as a walk-onforward. "We told him not to come," Parker says. "We had right-shotforwards with better size and skill. We had no place for him." Gilroy,though, agreed to join as a practice player—and switch to defense. With hisrelentless work habits Gilroy, now 6'2" and 190 pounds, cracked the lineupby the season's fourth game.

The rookie alsochallenged the odds by asking for jersey number 97 from Parker, atraditionalist who doesn't care for showy high numbers. "What?" saidParker when Gilroy's request was first relayed to him by an assistant."This kid's just lucky we're giving him a shot." But Matt wanted 97 tohonor his brother Timmy, who wore those digits on his youth team in 1993, theyear he died in a bike accident. Matt, then nine and a year older than Timmy,swore he would wear 97 as far as his career took him, and when Parkerunderstood the circumstances, he relented.

As a sophomore,Gilroy built a reputation as a steady decision maker who saw the ice especiallywell, and he earned a scholarship for his junior year. After that season (hewas named first-team All-America) BU took away the scholarship, assuming he'dgo pro. Instead, Gilroy came back (sans scholarship), and on Friday, after aseason in which he led Hockey East defensemen with 28 points, he got the HobeyBaker Award as the nation's top player. "I stayed because I had unfinishedbusiness," says Gilroy. "I guess the best things take time."

NHL playoff brackets and Stanley Cup analysis.

NHL Futures

A look at the top prospect from each team in theFrozen Four.

The Avalanche draftee (sixth round, 2005) looks like a future top six forward:He's strong on his skates, and he produces points in traffic by winning battlesfor loose pucks.

The son of ex--NHL center Carey Wilson was taken at No. 7 by Nashville in '08.At 6'2", 215 pounds, he's very dangerous driving to the net afterface-offs.

The 6'3" 210-pounder has range as a sniper and is one of the swiftestskaters in college. If he can improve his backchecking, the Toronto draft pick(sixth round, '06) could be a fine NHL penalty killer.

State Speedy and just 5'8", 164 pounds, he has drawn comparisons to theLightning's diminutive Martin St. Louis. But the undrafted Scofield needs toadd some more moxie to his game.



NICE WAVES Gilroy's sweeping defense helped clinch a happy ending (inset).



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