Three years ago this month, on Feb. 1, 2010, a highly-touted freshman and sophomore went head-to-head for the first time at TD Banknorth Garden.
The rookie, Boston College’s Chris Kreider, scored a goal to help lead his Eagles to a dominating 6-0 Beanpot semifinal win over Harvard, whose own talented forward, Alex Killorn ’12, registered three shots on net in the loss.
The pair would not meet again until Sunday night, when they faced off once more in an NHL Arena.
But this time, at Madison Square Garden, the intracity rivals were no longer collegiate stars. Instead, they were representing their professional teams—Kreider is on the New York Rangers, and Killorn, making his NHL debut, was playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The right wing was called up by the Lightning on Sunday, marking a rapid ascension to hockey’s highest stage for the former Crimson standout who graduated just nine months ago.
“We’re happy for him,” Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “He's a great kid, was a great player for us, a great person and he's worked really hard. We’re very happy to see his dream coming true, having a chance to play in the National Hockey League. And what a great venue, Madison Square Garden. So we'll be pulling hard for him and we're very proud of how far he's come.”
Under the lights at the world’s most famous arena, wearing No. 17, and playing on the road team’s third line, Killorn made an immediate impact, registering an assist and two shots on goal in a 5-1 Rangers win. He also accumulated two minutes in the penalty box for high-sticking Kreider, who left Boston College during his junior year to join the Rangers late last season.
“I think I got the jitters out of the way in the first period,” Killorn said. “I felt a lot better in the 2nd.”
His parents—who postponed a vacation to Puerto Rico—as well as other family members and friends were in attendance to see the game. Killorn told The Syracuse Post-Standard that his mother cried when he told her the news of his call-up.
“It's a really good feeling,” Killorn said. “You don't know when it's going to come.”
The feeling finally came on Saturday, when Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman—a former hockey star in his own right—made the decision to waive wing Dana Tyrell and promote Killorn, a third round pick by the team in 2007.
"He's a big body that protects the puck extremely well," Lightning coach Guy Boucher told The Tampa Bay Times. "He's got a great shot and is extremely smart."
The Harvard grad said he received the news from Syracuse GM Julien BriseBois, who woke him from a pregame nap.
"He asked me if I was ready to come help Tampa beat the Rangers," Killorn told The Tampa Bay Times.
Though he was unable to do that, the wing’s promotion nonetheless represented a rapid rise to the NHL for the former All-American, who ranked in the top five in the country in goals and points per game as a Crimson senior.