On Saturday night at 7:00 the Michigan Wolverines take aim at a record 10th NCAA Ice Hockey Championship. Coach Red Berenson and a handful of Wolverines met with the media Friday to talk about Saturday's showdown.
Head Coach Red Berenson
On Scooter playing different roles:
"I think the leadership of our team is not just the talk, it walking the talk and how you play. Scooter has done it all year. He accepted a role on our fourth line at the start of the year; he scored goals for them, and led that line. Whatever line he has played on has played well. This has been a great year for Scooter, and he has set a great example for our other players."
On Hunwick's personality:
"He has a nice balance between cockiness, confidence, and humility. He is likeable with his teammates. For example he works our hockey camps in the summer, and so he has got to know my grandson Blake pretty well, because Blake comes to our hockey camp. Last night Blake walked in our team meal after the game when all the smoke settled, and Blake came in to see me. When Hanwick saw him he jumped up to go see him, because that's the type of kid he is. He's not just full of himself, he spreads himself out and reaches out to other people, and I think that's why the team has really rallied around him."
On team defense:
"A lot of these guys never blocked a shot before they got to Michigan. Every team that has got this far is blocking shots. You know Duluth is blocking shots as well as anyone. Our team has bought into playing better team defense. We realized halfway through the season we weren't going to win on offense; we had to play better without the puck, and give our goalies a chance. I don't think it has hurt our offense, but everyone has bought in and I think it has made our team better."
On Chad Langlais:
"He is a smaller defenseman, and is really smart with the puck, and really smart without the puck. He has been an absolute warrior for us, I don't know if he is 170 lbs. but he is an absolute warrior. He played 28 minutes for us last night, and continues to be one of our leaders on defense. He is our only senior on defense on defense now."
On coaching at this point in his career:
"I can't say it is nothing new, but it's inspiring for me to see our team put out. I still feel like I am in sync with the players and college hockey. I am a big hockey fan, and an NHL fan. But I am not surprise that we are here, I have seen it go all ways. If you go back 25 years I would say that Michigan was the number one seed going into the tournament or certainly the regional probably in half of those and never got past the first game. So I have lived with disappointments, and then we have also had a few lucky wins, like we did last night, so I have seen it all. So what's it like, it's great, there is hope for senior citizens."
On players being team oriented:
"I think that is the biggest challenge for any coach now days. It seems like a lot of the younger generation, they feel entitled, and not as willing to work. But I tell you what the kids sitting at the end of the table here, Luke Glendening, he came to Michigan like Shawn Hunwick with no expectations. I didn't know if he would ever play a game, and when I saw him on the ice, I realized that this kid has something special. He does everything right, he does the right things, he goes through the wall. Off the ice he is like a machine, and he is just a great kid. Those are the kind of kids that set an example for those entitled kids. So have a pretty good mix now. I think these kids are bringing the most out of each other, and that's why they are still playing at this point in the year. It is because of the team, not because of the fire power."
Luke Glendening (Jr., F)
On the example set by Scooter Vaughan:
"Scooter has taken on every role he has been given and he's ran with it. He was a great defenseman and this year he has excelled at the forward position. It's guys like him that really carry this team and that is huge for this team, all the guys look up to him and he is a great role model."
On the fun, relaxing nature of the Michigan locker room and how it has led them to success:
"I mean, we have a lot of jokes on the team, we definitely like to have a lot of fun, but there's also business time and I think that's what happens before games. A lot of what you don't see before games I when we're getting serious. I mean, a lot of the time we are messing around and a lot of the time we are laughing, but obviously the game's most important."
Scooter Vaughan (Sr., F)
On importance of getting production out of this year's senior class:
"That's good when you get production out of all members of your team…we know that all those guys are goal scorers and they can put the puck in the net. When Ben and I get an opportunity to put the puck in the net it's going to be a tremendous help to our team."
On keeping the younger players on the team focused after a big win like last night:
"Tomorrow night we have the biggest game of all of our lives, so we have to keep our focus. We all have our roles, we all know what we need to do – blocking shots, beating our guys back to the front of the net, so as long as we do that and stick to the game plan, we'll be okay.
On how the leadership helped Michigan win last night:
"It helped a lot. We have a lot of older guys - I think eight seniors and then upperclassmen total, it's definitely over 10 - It's great that we have older guys who have been there before that are seniors and can help the younger guys, and the know what to do at this point, they're not freshmen anymore so just telling them to stick to the game plan and do your roles and we'll be okay."
On how important it was for Michigan to get production from himself and Ben Winnett last night and not just seniors like Carl Hagelin, Louie Caporusso, Matt Rust:
"I mean that's good. We can production from all the guys on the team. We know those guys are goal scorers and they can put the puck in when they can, but guys like me and Ben, when we get our opportunities, we're going to put the puck in the net and it's really going to be a tremendous help to our team."
Greg Pateryn (Jr., D)
On Shawn Hunwick's performance last night:
"He really played unbelievable, There were a couple of saves there that I for sure thought the puck was going in the net but he miraculously came out of nowhere, got something on it and kept it out. So I think he's really carried our team and if we're helping him and he's helping us, we'll definitely pull a win.
On what happened during the second half of Michigan's season that led them to here:
"I think it was the little things, just winning puck battles and getting ahead of teams early, not letting them get down on us and even if they did score the first goal, we knew we could come back and beat a team if we were down 1-0, 2-0 in the first period. That was a big thing for our team and I think it's really showed these last couple of weeks in the playoffs here.
Jon Merrill (Fr., D)
On his emotions:
"I think last night it was something special. We were pretty excited, but right now we are even keel and looking forward to playing tomorrow and looking forward to getting to know our opponent a little bit better."
On what he's looking forward to most tomorrow:
"I think just getting out there and having the opportunity to play for a National Championship. It's something you get one crack at so it's something special."
On using his experiences with playing for US Junior Teams:
"I think it just helps playing on the big stage and in big games, hostile environments. [It] just kind of prepares you so you're not shell-shocked when you see the fans and the crazy atmosphere."
Kevin Lynch (So., F)
On being at the Frozen Four:
"Kind of lost some sleep over it last night. We are really excited for this especially because we thought we played a solid game last night and [Shawn Hunwick] was pretty strong in net. It's pretty crazy to think you're playing for a National Championship in 24 hours or so and we are just trying to keep our emotions pretty low and just focus on one of our goals and that's to take home a National Championship."
On the most exciting part about being in the National Championship:
"Obviously to soak in the moment. You don't play for National Championships too much in your career so we're going to try and take advantage of it and hope we come out with a victory."
On his international experiences helping this weekend:
"My U 17 year we played for the gold medal in Canada and came up short and I took that into my U 18 year and we won a gold medal. It's just experience that helps you through those moments and I think that can help our team and being veterans out there kind of knowing that this is one shot and if you don't take advantage of it, it can slip away."
Chris Brown (So., F)
On his thoughts going into the national championship game:
"We're excited to play. We know that Minnesota Duluth is a really good team, but we're ready for the challenge, and again, we're going to embrace the underdog role."
On moving forward from the exciting win over North Dakota:
"Coach is preaching that we just refocus and make sure that we come back ready to play the same way we played last night. It's exciting, and we know that we have confidence going into the championship game. We're going to rely on Shawn [Hunwick] to make some great saves again and our defense to play well."
Louie Caporusso (Sr., F)
On playing against a fourth consecutive WCHA team:
"I think that's a little bit of luck. It's just the way the chips have fallen. We have a pretty good record against WCHA teams and we like playing them. I didn't care who won last night. We didn't really pay attention to that game. Whoever we were going to play, we were going to play and we were going to be ready for whoever we were going to play."
On what he expects the atmosphere to be like in the championship game...
"If it's anything like last night, it's going to be crazy. Last night was wild. We expected it to be half [North Dakota fans] and half [Michigan fans], but it was definitely a Sioux atmosphere. I felt like it was their home rink and I thought we did a really good job battling it out."
On what the team is doing today...
"We're having an optional skate and getting some food in us. We'll rest up a bit and maybe watch a team movie or something like that."
National Championship: U-M Pre-Game Quotes
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