For the Denver Cutthroats, life on the road took on a whole new meaning as Denver’s newest club just finished a month-long road trip filled with wins, losses, and a whole lot of traveling.

Kieran Millan

Courtesy of Chip Crail | Prohockeynews.com

Long road excursions are never easy, especially when you lose one of your two starting goaltenders. Luckily for Denver, the loss wasn’t due to injury. Instead, Colorado Avalanche prospect Kieran Millan got the call up to head to the Lake Erie Monsters in the AHL.

Filling in for a few days due to an illness that held fellow Avs prospect Sami Aittokallio out of the lineup, Millan was rewarded for his reassignment with his first ever American Hockey League start.

“I don’t believe in bringing guys all the way up from the farm team and not playing them,” Monsters coach Dean Chynoweth told Dennis Manoloff of The Plain Dealer. “I thought Kieran was good. He had some key saves early in the game. I liked what I saw.”

Suffering a 4-0 loss to the Charlotte Checkers – not the way a first-timer wants to make his debut – Millan made 22 saves overall, keeping his club in the game until a team-wide meltdown took the game beyond reach.

“We got into some penalty trouble late in the third period and they ended up getting three goals in the last ten minutes. It kind of muddied what I considered a pretty good game up until then,” said Millan. “Unfortunately we played the first place team at the time, who has four or five guys from that team in the NHL right now. So it was a tough start.”

Still, the 23-year-old graduate from Boston University gained some valuable insight into the next step in his professional hockey career.

“It was really nice to get the opportunity. Obviously we lost four nothing. It wasn’t the greatest first start ever but I thought I played fine and held my own,” said Millan. “It was nice getting the call up. Kent [Patterson]‘s up there right now. Hopefully he can play well and stick up there for a while and give us all an opportunity to move up.”

For any player in the system of an NHL club, playing in ‘The Show’ is the apparent endgame. How one gets there is really the challenge. For Millan, the additional effort required to make it back to Cleveland, Ohio is something he is well aware of.

“Obviously working hard in practice, working hard in games, playing as well as I can, and continuing to try and improve,” said Millan. “It’s all I can do and the rest is up to them. I just can do everything in my part to make myself better and hopefully they notice.”

In the midst of his first year pro following four successful seasons in Boston, Millan initially commented on the pace of the game in the CHL and how it required some adjustment. Since his start in Denver, Millan has gone 11-12-0-2 with a nice 2.66 goals against average and a .923 save percentage through 27 contests.

For him, transitioning to the pace of the AHL didn’t take as much work.

“It wasn’t too much faster,” said Millan. “I thought I made the transition pretty well though. Obviously it’s a little bit faster, the players are a little bit better.”

After being rewarded with a start, Millan was returned to the Cutthroats to finish out the January roadie. Returning home, he managed to snatch up a win for the Fish in front of a friendly crowd for the first time since December 29th.

Having had a taste of the light at the end of the tunnel though, Millan can only hope to get back with the Monsters sooner than later.

“It was a good experience though and it’s something I can learn from. Hopefully next time I get a crack, I get a win.”

Millan is currently shouldering the load of the Cutthroats while his goaltending partner, Kent Patterson, sees his turn in Cleveland with the club.

The Cutthroats take on the Fort Worth Brahmas Friday night at the Denver Coliseum.

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