NCAA Frozen Four
Pepsi Center – Denver, Colo.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Notre Dame Press Conference
Head Coach Jeff Jackson:
Q: The players keep talking about your dedication to the team. How quick did you start evaluating Boston College?
A: After having a bite to eat the whole coaching staff was. I am fortunate to have a tremendous staff. I knew that when we brought in Paul Pooley, and keeping Andy Slaggert. It boils down to the coaching staff. Everyone on our staff is committed to helping these guys be successful, whether that is on the ice, in the classroom, whatever.
Q: How do you use your Frozen Four experiences to the kids?
A: I try to talk and guide them to being focused. There are so many distractions at an event like this and that continues today. Some of them are self-induced: family, friends, alumni; we appreciate them being here to support us, but it’s really not what it’s all about. It’s the time of year when everyone jumps on the bandwagon and you want to make sure that the bandwagon doesn’t roll over you. A Tony Robbins thing: change their focus.
Q: Nate Gerbe is one of the most dangerous weapons in college hockey. What do you do to counteract that?
A: He’s a tremendous player. We saw him last year; I’ve follo0wd him over the years. He competes as hard as anybody. I look at it no different that Kennedy a few weeks back, top players at UNH a few weeks back, or Kolarik and Porter from last night. It’s not a matter of shutting down one player, it’s about playing as a team against the other team’s top players. We don’t shadow people; we don’t do anything different than on a nightly basis.
Q: Your team has a defensive reputation, but the skill level of your forwards is quite high. Can you talk about that group?
A: We’re trying to emulate teams like Boston College and Michigan. We want to play an up-tempo style. We’re a good defensive team and we will be a good defensive team as long as I’m coaching. I always believe that offensive comes from defense. We’re also about puck possession. To possess the puck is the best defense of all. If you can cycle the puck and control the puck through the neutral zone, the terminology now is puck management. You try to combine that with having a good defensive game so you can establish your offense from your transitional game.
Q: You’ve talked a lot of about hockey tradition at Notre Dame. Do you think this will drum up more interest from the casual Notre Dame fan playing Michigan and Boston College?
A: I’ve always thought that Notre Dame could be a great hockey program. College hockey is a sport where Notre Dame can have great success in for a number of reasons. First it is the rivalries that you’re talking about, Notre Dame has strong rivalries. Second and I don’t know if it’s a good thing, but in recruiting today, most kids playing hockey come from strong financial backgrounds. Those kids are going to good schools good schools translate into good grades, so we can get them into school.
NOTRE DAME PLAYER QUOTES
Q: Can you talk about what happened to your knee and how it feels this morning?
A: Christian Hanson, Jr., Forward – I just tweaked it a little bit in the first period and then it felt pretty good, and then tweaked it again in the overtime. It’s a little sore today, but I feel ready to go tomorrow.
Q: Was it difficult getting to sleep last night after being wound up after all the excitement? What time did you all fall asleep?
A: Kyle Lawson, So., Defenseman – It was actually pretty tough, we were pretty excited. It was a pretty big win for us. We’ve been through a lot the second half of this season and it was good to get some redemption. Yesterday was yesterday, and we’ve got a lot of work to do because Boston College is a great team. I think I finally fell asleep about 2:00.
A: Hanson – It was definitely an exciting game. Michigan has been our rival since the beginning of the season, and they played us well all three games. It was a lot of fun to win, but Boston College is another good team. And I’ve got Lawson as a roommate, and he snores, so I probably didn’t get to sleep until about 2:30.
A: Kevin Deeth, So., Forward – I haven’t slept well for the past two weeks since Colorado Springs just thinking about this a lot. It’s always hard to get to sleep after a big win, you’ve got the butterflies and the emotions still with you, but now our main focus is Boston College. We have to put the win behind us, because we’ve still got one more step to go.
Q: How much was playing a CCHA rival a factor in yesterdays game?
A: Lawson – I think it was a huge part of the game. We’d played them two games before. We had a tough loss at Yost and went back the night after and never really regrouped. Then they beat us pretty good at the Palace. So we knew the tendencies, what they like to do, it almost gives you a sense of confidence. But it’s also twofold; because you know how talented they are. It helped both ways, but any team you face at this point is going to be a tough challenge.
A: Deeth – I think it was a little bit of the unfinished business factor. Anytime you lose once or twice to a team, you’re urging to get back and play them again. So we had that in the back of our minds. It was the same thing with Michigan State in Colorado Springs.
Q: Last night everyone was giving credit to the fourth line for being clutch and coming through, but coach has shuffled the lines so much this year- I think Christian, you’ve skated with everyone but their cousin this year- how much does that help the chemistry of the team to be able to skate with anyone?
A: Deeth – I think it really does help our team. We had a tough loss when Erik Condra went down in the Ferris State series, so for our team to be able to have players who can play with anyone at anytime is just huge. We don’t have to worry about having four set lines. We have the ability where if someone goes down or isn’t playing well, other guys are able to step up and perform.
Q: Kyle, did you watch the BC-North Dakota game and what do you think about the prospect of facing Nathan Gerbe and his burst of speed?
A: Lawson – We did get a chance to watch a little bit of the beginning while we were getting ready. We actually left the hotel and it was 0-0 and when we got to the rink it was 4-0. So we didn’t get to see many of the goals, but I grew up with Nate, and he’s a great kid and he’s got the biggest heart of anyone I’ve played with. He’s very talented and very determined. The biggest thing is to limit his open time and space, that’s the best way to neutralize his speed.
Q: You guys are on the hockey map now officially. Can you talk about the pride of playing on a team that has accomplished that?
A: Hanson – When Coach Jackson came in he really stressed building a culture. He said it’s not going to happen overnight, we have to build a foundation and go from there. We’ve taken some great strides in the last three years since coach got here. We struggled our first year, and then last year we did what we did last year. We had such a strong first half this year and we struggled in the second half, and I think that really helped us to overcome what we had to face in the CCHA and NCAA tournaments.
A: Lawson – I think a big thing to take note is that we’re reaping the benefits of players who played before us. There’s a lot of guys who came before us who put in the hard work to help us get to where we are now. That’s not to take anything away from the players we have now, because they’ve put in a lot of work too, but I think a lot of the credit goes to the guys who came before us.
Q: You guys mentioned the familiarity with Michigan and Michigan State, what’s the biggest challenge of having to get ready for a team you don’t know too well?
A: Deeth – I think the biggest thing is that we have to stay physically rested, but mentally we have to watch film on these guys and know their matchups and tendencies, but the coaches do a great job of getting us prepared whether we know the team well or not.
A: Lawson – Everyone knows that Boston College has been here the last three years, we’re kind of the new kids on the block. As long as we stay focused and do what we do, we’ll be fine.
Q: Your coach’s penalty killing scheme is pretty innovative, could you talk about that and some of the other little things that are innovative that help you?
A: Lawson – We could be here all afternoon talking about the things that coach does differently. He’s a great coach, but the greatest thing is attention to the small details. I think if you ask him, he’d give all the credit to Coach Pooley, he’s in charge of our penalty kill.
A: Hanson – I’ve never played for a coach who is more dedicated to the game of hockey. We’ll play a weekend series and after the Saturday game, he’ll already be preparing for the next series.
Q: Tyler, you mentioned growing up with Nathan Gerbe. Could you elaborate on that, what was your relationship with him prior to college hockey?
A: Lawson – Nate grew up in Oxford and I grew up in New Hudson, but we played together on Detroit Honeybaked growing up. I’ve got some stories about Nate. I was a big boy when I was younger, I actually weighed more in eighth grade than I do now, but I went over to his house one time, and his dad woke us at 8:00 AM and we went to the track and made us run a mile- Nate was on his fourth lap and I was still on my first. He gets his dedication from his brothers and his dad, who’s a construction worker. Like I said, the kid’s got a heart of gold and he may be 5’5″, but he plays bigger than that. There’s a lot of good stories. One night, Nate happened not to score a goal that night, and we pull onto a dirt road about two miles away from his house and all of a sudden Nate jumps out of the car and starts pushing the car home, the whole while Nate’s dad and I are sitting in the car listening to the Red Wings game. He had a tough childhood, but it’s helped him get to where he is today.
Q: Last season you guys did give Boston College a beating up in Chestnut Hill, is there anything that you guys remember from that game that you can take into tomorrow’s game with you?
A: Deeth – I think it’s a completely different team from last year. They play an up-tempo, fast team, skilled- just like Michigan. The way their system compliments our system, I think it’s going to be a good game. We play more of a defensive style, but at the same time our scoring is starting to come around. I think we just have to make sure we shut down their big guns, limit their time and space and we’ll be fine.
Boston College Press Conference
Head Coach Jerry York:
Q: The hills and valleys you’ve had throughout the season, how much have you had to lean on your captains?
A: We’ve had a great history of captains that have stayed in touch with the program. They’ve learned from Ryan Shannon, Ben Eaves, players of that caliber, they all stay in touch with us. As they’ve gone through their four years here, they’ve developed their leadership skills. Our trio of guys is just like the guys we’ve had in the past. We’ve had outstanding leadership this year; it’s been a credit to our program that we have leaders like this.
Q: Ben Smith came in as a freshman last year as a center, this year he a little bit of a different role. Can you talk about his contributions?
A: Benny came in as a solid checking line type player for us. Through practice and just hard work, he’s developed his skill level going off shots as far as scoring goals and making plays. He’s showing us as much improvement as anyone on our team going form a hard-nose checking type player to now scoring 23-24 goals.
Q: Comment on the major difference to past teams?
A: Goaltending may be a little different because we have a freshman goaltender, but I see a lot of similarities. It’s still a unique feel to each team; it’s different like I said last night.
Q: You’ve mentioned this team is longer on chemistry and shorter on raw talent. Did you see it as a championship contender or do you see it as a surprise playing for the title?
A: We had a veteran goaltender coming back, an outstanding All-American type forward in Brock Bradford, a returning defenseman in Brett Motherwell; we thought for sure this would be a team that could challenge once again. The surprise I had was losing all three of those players, watching our team develop in skill level, team level improvement. As the season progressed I could see a little more that we could do it this year, once we got through the immaturity. As the season was getting deep in February, March I though we had a chance.
BOSTON COLLEGE PLAYER QUOTES
Mike Brennan, Sr., Defense:
Q: Were you impressed by Notre Dame’s play yesterday?
A: I think their team is well coached. A year ago we played them and it was a 7-1 hockey game, so we know they work extremely hard.
Q: How has it been as captains leading the teams through the peaks and valley’s this season?
A: Our goal is to win hockey games and win championships. Of course it would be great to go through a season without ups and downs, but that’s not realistic. You have to deal with them as they come. The biggest thing we want to do is not fold over.
Matt Greene, Sr., Forward
Q: Was there any kind of adjustment when you moved lines?
A: I think when you play with two highly skilled guys like that you don’t really have to make any adjustments at all. I stick with the defensive side of things and get the puck to Whitney and Ferriero, and they’re going to make good plays.
Q: Comment on the difference between this year’s team and the teams from the last few years.
A: Like coach said, I think there are a lot of similarities. It’s not a coincidence.
Nathan Gerbe, Jr., Forward
Q: Is Hobey Baker on your mind at all?
A: The team has done a great job of not mentioning it. The team goal is to win a national championship and that’s the one thing we’re focused on. If the Hobey Baker does come, that would be great. Our one goal in mind is to win everything, and that’s been our goal from day one.
Q: Nathan can you talk about when you had to push the car?
A: The one thing my dad always told me was that if I’m going to spend the time and the money to take you to hockey, then you better put in 110 percent effort into it.