The surge of humanity coming toward Dylan McIlrath and his three friends as they walked on the Harvard Bridge over the Charles River from Cambridge, Mass., into Boston on Monday afternoon was confusing to the Rangers’ top defenseman prospect.

He and his friends had heard something a little louder than fireworks as they leisurely headed toward the Boston Marathon finish line, still about 10 minutes away on foot.

They had no idea two bombs had just detonated.

But they did realize they were the only ones walking that direction. Everybody else on the bridge, including some who were crying, was quickly moving the other way.

"Cops were racing down the street," said McIlrath, 20, by telephone two hours after two explosions went off near the finish line. "The crowd let us know we shouldn’t go that way."

In retrospect, McIlrath and his friends had just had the most fortuitous long lunch of their lives.

"I’m just in Boston with some friends, it’s our day off today and we wanted to do a tour of the city," said McIlrath, who plays for the Rangers’ top minor-league affiliate, the Connecticut Whale (AHL). "We heard some loud noises and we’re walking over the bridge and there’s a sea of people walking the other way, headed out of there as quickly as they could."

Authorities confirmed at least three people died and more than 140 were injured — 15 critically — when the twin bombs went off within 100 yards of each other near the finish line around 2:50 p.m.