Froz-4 Wednesday Press Conferences

Michigan, North Dakota, Boston College and Notre Dame all took time out of their Frozen Four prep time to sit down with the media the day before the opening round of the 2008 Frozen Four Tournament. What did Michigan, and reps from each of the other teams, have to say on the upcoming games? Catch all the Frozen Four coverage sponsored by IMCO Carbide Tool.

Frozen Four 2008 coverage is sponsored by IMCO Carbide Tool

All four teams were at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., for a light morning skate before meeting with the media just a little over 24 hours from the start of the 2008 Frozen Four. What was said by Red Berenson and his Wolverines, along with the other remaining teams at the 2008 Frozen Four?

Michigan Head Coach Red Berenson
Q: Opening comments...
A: I think that we've had teams that were expected to be back that never made it. This team has surprised all of us right from day one. The bottom line was our goals for never changed much, but our goals against changed by at least a goal a game. That starts in goal and goes right through the team. With such a young team, it's quite an accomplishment to be here.

Q: Going into Albany regional, you said the team had a mediocre practice. How were the practices this week?
A: We haven't really had a week. We came out here on Tuesday night. We feel like we practiced last week at home, so it's been kind of broken. Our team is anxious to play. When you don't play for the better part of two weeks, you can't wait to play. It's a bit of altitude adjustment, but we came out a day early so hopefully that will help us.

Q: Is there a defining moment for your team this year?
A: The first game was against Boston College in Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center, to win that game in overtime. When I stood back and watched my team play against Boston College and Minnesota, two premier teams. With 12 freshmen at the time, it was pretty impressive that we could more than hold our own. The amazing thing with this team isn't one moment; it's been the consistency night after night.

Q: Talk about your first NCAA final that you were at and how it differs from now...
A: The Final four, as it used to be called, was in Utica my senior year. It was the difference between one of the lowest of professional leagues and the NHL. There wasn't a lot of fanfare, pretty much a non-event. There was no TV coverage, no video, no internet and so when you look at the information, the exposure and the facilities, the Frozen four is a major event now, at least it is for us. It's night and day compared to what it was then.

Q: Talk a little bit about the keys to Billy [Sauer's] improved play this year...
A: Honestly I have not talked to Billy about why he's had such a good year, but I have my thoughts. I think the main thing is the fact that he's matured into an older goalie now that he's 20. He's played three years of college hockey. He was 17 when he came in, probably too young to be a starting goalie on our team. Number two was the fact that he has something to prove over last year. We knew we had a good team, we just didn't get there. Instead of giving up, he came back on a mission. Number three: he's had three goalie coaches in three years at Michigan. This is the first year that he's had a coach that was a goalie in Michigan (Josh Blackburn), a four-year starter that I think can relate to Billy really well.

Michigan Senior Chad Kolarik -- Forward
Q: Opening Statement...
A: Season went well we started off strong against Boston College with that overtime win. It was a good start and we continued rolling with that GLI (Great Lakes Invitational) victory. It's been three years since we've won in the playoffs so that was good too. Being in the Frozen Four for the first time is exciting as a senior, with an opportunity to go out on top.

Q: Has it sunk in yet that you are in the Frozen Four?
A: I think it's sunk in, we're in Denver. It's a little deja' vu over again with last year, but it's a different feeling. There's a little more press and a little more nerves, but we came out a day early to get those nerves out and I think we got them out the past few days and we can't wait for the puck to drop.

Q: Chad, when you prepare for this game is it more comfortable for you to play a team your familiar with?
A: I don't think it matters today with all the technology you're watching every game and scouting tape, so you know what Notre Dame is going to bring, what North Dakota is going to bring or what Boston College is going to bring. It doesn't really matter who we play because they're all great teams and they're all playing really well. We're in the Frozen Four for a reason.

Michigan Senior Kevin Porter -- Forward
Q: Opening Statement...
A: As Chad said we accomplished a lot of our goals this season. So far it's been a successful season and we have one main goal left.

Q: What are some of the things with Notre Dame you have to be worried about?
A: They're a strong defensive team and they're always going to have three or four guys back. We have to get pucks deep and get them to the net. Their goalie has been playing really well for the last few weekends. The more shots we get the better and we have to eliminate our turnovers.

Q: Has it sunk in yet that you are in the Frozen Four?
A: I think the first couple days we were a little bit nervous in practice and the puck was bouncing around a little bit, but I think we settled down today and we'll be ready to go tomorrow.

Michigan Junior Billy Sauer -- Goaltender
Q: Opening Statement...
A: They pretty much hit everything, but it's been a lot of fun this year. The team has been great and I wouldn't ask for any other group of guys in front of me.

Q: Billy, when you heard coach talk about why you're better this year, are any of those things that stick out to you? Do you agree?
A: I would have to say all three of those things are right along the right lines. I've matured, I've got a lot of experience under my belt, my confidence is way up and Blackie (Former Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn) has been helping me out a lot this year and it's been a good year.

Notre Dame Head Coach Jeff Jackson
Opening Statement...
A: It's an honor to get to this point in your season– if you're playing in April, you've had a good season. People might talk about our second half and our first half, but what really matters is what have you done lately. The fact that we're here – it's important to emphasize that this is the first time in Notre Dame history that the team's in the Frozen Four, and you don't do that by accident. We played well at the right time, and it's a great opportunity for us against a great opponent tomorrow night.

Q: How much has the Frozen Four changed since you last brought a team here?
A: It's a little early for me to say that. Even though I was away from college hockey for a number of years, but I had followed it pretty closely and went to a of them in the meantime. I think it's the pinnacle of our game – back when we were in St. Paul or Milwaukee, it was always full houses- the environment is spectacular for college athletics, and its no different than the Final Four in basketball – it's a big celebration. A lot of people come from across the country to follow hockey, not just the fans of the four teams. I remember a few years ago in Milwaukee seeing jerseys from every school around the country. A lot of the same people come to this who were coming back when I was at Lake Superior. You don't get here all the time, so you have to enjoy it and take advantage of it when you do.

Q: What was your perspective on the last Notre Dame-Michigan meeting back in January?
A: I thought it was a great hockey game – obviously I wasn't happy with the last minute of play. We took a 2-0 lead, and they pecked away at it going into the third period. It was a tie hockey game, and they scored a nice goal in the last minute of play. That epitomizes our second half- we had a similar game a week earlier at Michigan State, we had a game like that with Miami at Joe Louis Arena. The positive is that it started dwindling away – instead of minutes, it went to seconds. By the time we got to Colorado Springs [for the regional], we eliminated the late-game losses.

Q: Can you talk about the play of goaltender Jordan Pearce?
A: I think he's played well for a majority of the season. It started against Wisconsin – we didn't play particularly well as a team on the opening night of the season, and he was the difference in that game. It hasn't been a surprise how he's played. He's shown signs of brilliance throughout the season. I think that how he approached his role the last two years playing behind David Brown allowed him to be able to come in and flourish. He could have complained or quit or done a lot of things – but he stuck by what he was here for and that's why I felt I had to give him the first opportunity to be the No. 1 guy, because he had handled it in that way.

Notre Dame Junior Jordan Pearce -- Goaltender
Q: Opening comments...
A: It's been a tough season for us, especially this second half. We've battled through adversity. We're starting to get our things together and we had a good weekend two weekends ago. We're just excited to be here and we're excited for this weekend.

Q: When you reflect on that series with Michigan earlier this season, what do you take from that? Is there a sense of unfinished business coming away with two losses?
A: Pearce – Just to second what Brock said, we know we have to play the best of our games, collectively, if we want to beat Michigan.

Q: How do you stop Kevin Porter?
A: Pearce – I just have to worry about the puck. You just have to be aware when he and his linemates are on the ice. All four lines for Michigan are very talented. But they just make plays when there aren't plays being made, so you just have to be aware of where they are, and where other guys are without the puck.

Q: Was there a point this season when you really got your confidence going and you felt like you really stepped into the role.
A: Pearce - All summer and preseason, (Brad) Phillips and (Tom) O'Brien our third string goalie, pushed me really hard and as we were going into the season, I thought it could've been any one of us to step up. Just as the season went on, I won't say it was one weekend, but just as the games and minutes piled up, I just felt more and more confident, and started worrying more about the game than my own performance, so it was more of a cumulative process, not necessarily one big game thing.

Q: What was it like going back to campus after you had won the regional?
A: Pearce – We had a sour year for our football team, so I think everyone is looking for a team to get behind and cheer on.

Notre Dame Senior Brock Sheahan -- Defense
Q: Opening comment...
A: We had a really good start to the first part of the season, which was a little unexpected, a lot of people thought we were going to slip from last year. We slipped a little bit down the stretch, but kind of got it together now and we're playing some of our best hockey right now.

Q: When you reflect on that series with Michigan earlier this season, what do you take from that? Is there a sense of unfinished business coming away with two losses?
A: Sheahan – It was a really good start to that series, we both played well. It was just us breaking down, and them capitalizing and that's what they do, so we have to make sure we minimize our mistakes because they're talented and they've got guys who can put it in the back of the net.

Q: How do you stop Kevin Porter?
A: Sheahan – Just making sure you're on him all the time. I've played against him a lot the last three years, so if you give him any space, he'll take advantage of it, both him and (Chad) Kolarik. Just paying attention to them when they're on the ice because they both do a good job of getting lost where you can't see them.

Q: What was it like going back to campus after you had won the regional?
A: Sheahan – The thing I noticed the most was that all the other sports teams are pushing for us, getting involved, asking how we're doing, what time the game is, so that's been cool, getting all the support from all the other athletes on campus.

Notre Dame Senior Mark Van Guilder -- Forward
Q: Opening comment...
A: The past two weeks have been kind of antsy, and we're just excited to be out here. I guess the two weeks gave us a chance to come back down to earth and realize we've got some work to do. So, we're just excited to be here and get on the ice tomorrow.

Q: When you reflect on that series with Michigan earlier this season, what do you take from that? Is there a sense of unfinished business coming away with two losses?
A: Van Guilder – Absolutely there is, because I think we played such a good road game at Yost. We got up early, and we defended well, we did a lot of things well that we had planned on going into the game. So those losses hurt when you execute well, but a couple of mistakes cost you the game. So we can bring a lot of confidence from that series, we did a lot of things well, but we can also learn from the mistakes we made in the last minute, the PK, so we can carry some confidence with us from that series.

Q: How do you stop Kevin Porter?
A: Van Guilder – I think it basically takes all five guys. We're not gonna put one guy on him. I think it takes three forwards coming back hard back-checking, a whole group of five to stop that whole line. Just being aware in our defensive zone when they've got the puck, and being aware of where he is when he's doesn't have the puck.

Q: What was it like going back to campus after you had won the regional?
A: Van Guilder – It's nice. I haven't heard the "is hockey Division-I at Notre Dame?" I heard that a couple times my freshman year, but I think everyone's figured out that we're a Division-I program. It's fun with all the support from our classmates and professors. Instead of "did you guys play this weekend?" it's "it was a great game, we watched every second."

North Dakota Head Coach Dave Hakstol
Q: Opening Statement...
A: It's certainly not the things that myself or the other coaches do. It's what the players do. They play the game at this time of year, and this particular group of players has been very special right from day one. They're very business like, they're very understated, but their effort has been tremendous right from our opening team meeting and they've done a very good job of sticking together throughout the year and finding ways to win games at key times and now putting our team in a position to compete on Thursday and have a chance to play Boston College Thursday afternoon. We're very excited to be here in Denver. It's been a great 24 hours here in town. Now we're looking forward to our first practice here and getting down to business tomorrow.

Q: When the four guys decided to come back what did it mean to the team on and off the ice?
A: It's about a team. Those four guys are pretty special individuals. I think each of the four had their own individual reasons to come back and certainly everyone has to make the right choice for themselves. Collectively there certainly was something to this group of guys coming back. I think it speaks to how close this group of 25 guys really are. The one thing away from the ice and away from the rink is that it spoke about how important the program really is to them. It's really gratifying to know that the program is important to the individual players. Sometimes in this day and age it seems that it's harder to come by, but that meant an awful lot.

Q: Dave, where would you rank having a hot goaltender on your wish-list going into the Frozen Four and secondly can you comment on J.P.'s play after last weekend...
A: You rank it awful high on the list and that's at any level. Hockey when you get to playoff time, I think the goaltending position can have the greatest impact of any sport. And Phil has been our rock back there all year. He's given us stability right from day one and he's had some night's where he's been spectacular but most importantly each and every night he's given us great stability. The guys gain confidence from that. This team works very hard defensively, I think in large part because they know they have a guy back there in the pipes that's going to battle each and every night and they're not going to let him down. And that's a big reason this team has bought into playing strong team defense.

North Dakota Junior T.J. Oshie -- Forward
Q: Opening comments...
A: We had a great season. Everyone that came back is close. The freshmen have been contributing, we've been having stellar goaltending, we've really come tog'ether here in the past couple of months.

Q: Down 2-0 in Wisconsin's Barn…did it just happen or did you have time to think about getting back into the game [to advance]?
A: Oshie – Going into the third period we just had to believe in each other. It all started with the first shift, on a power play, just had to have a good shift and shoot the puck. We weren't getting very many shots on net and you can't score goals without that, so we just kept plugging away and went from there.

Q: You had a good experience in this building last year [for Regionals], talk about whether that helps having knowledge with rink, boards, etc, help?
A: Oshie – I think it helps being comfortable in the city, we're in the same hotel so just knowing where to go get breakfast. We have a routine here that we already went through, so the level of comfort makes it a little easier not having to find somewhere to eat.

Q: Among the four guys, who was the one who stood up and said "let's make a pact and come back"?
A: Oshie - It was all our own interest and that we were all coming back made it that much more special. No one guy stood out, we just all came to an agreement and realized that's what we wanted to do.

North Dakota Senior Jean-Philippe Lamoureux -- Goaltender
Q: Opening comments...
A: Like every team you have your peaks and valleys. I think we've done our job this year in being pretty consistent with our effort. Coach Hakstol pointed out that we have had only two or three games where our effort isn't where it should be. We've been pretty happy thus far, and we're pretty happy to be here and to play Boston College.

Q: Can you remember your trip Boston and what happened in their building in October?
A: Lamoureux – The Boston College/North Dakota rivalry is great for college hockey. You have a team from the West and a team from the East and they always seem to be in the mix towards the end of the year. I think it's great for the game and exciting for the fans.

Q: You had a good experience in this building last year [for Regionals], talk about whether that helps having knowledge with rink, boards, etc, help?
Lamoureux - The familiarity is nice, but that ends when the puck drops. Once the two teams are playing, those advantages are over. It comes down to which team is ready to play and what team executes better.

North Dakota Junior Taylor Chorney -- Defense
Q: Opening comments...
A: I think college hockey season is making sure you're peaking at the right time. No matter what, you're going to have your ups and downs and we're no different. Over the past months we've been building and building, getter better every weekend. We're happy to be here, it's good to be back and we look forward to playing Thursday.

Q: Can you remember your trip Boston and what happened in their building in October?
A: Chorney – I think for both schools it was kind of disappointing. It was a heck of a game for the first two periods, but the difficulties with the ice and the arena and we had to shut ‘er down. It's good to get a chance to play a team from a different league. There's a little bit of a rivalry between Boston College and North Dakota. I know they've had a lot of good games in the Frozen Four over the past couple of years, even the early 2000's and 90's.

Q: Among the four guys, who was the one who stood up and said "let's make a pact and come back"?
A: Chorney – We were all watching the finals, Michigan State, and we all just kind of were feeling that we were unsatisfied with what we had done so far and we really wanted one more chance to come back to school and give the program something. It wasn't just one guy, more of a collective thing.

Boston College Head Coach Jerry York
Q: On handling the high emotion of returning to the Frozen Four...
A: It ramps up every year for me. I can tell you that I do seem to feel a little more excited this particular year. When you advance out of the regional with an overtime goal, and when you beat a quality team like Miami – you really get a great deal of satisfaction. Now, you anticipate North Dakota and the rest of the field – Notre Dame is back on the national scene which is good for college hockey, and Michigan is a perennial power who is back again. If this is not the pinnacle of college hockey this year, its close to as good as its been in three decades. It's become a terrific sport to watch, coach and observe.

Q: Can you talk about the developing national rivalry with North Dakota?
A: You have rivals in your league, and your league championships and post-season tournament, but when you have a rivalry that develops on such a big national stage; I've had 10 national championship appearances with BC, and North Dakota has been an opponent in seven of them – and two were in the national championship game. This rivalry is something – it's really special. We have a respect for their program. When we blow the whistle in October, our goal is to get to the national tournament at the end of the year and try to win a national title. We have the full understanding that somewhere along the line, if history repeats itself, we're going to play North Dakota.

Q: Can you address playing in Denver at altitude?
A: We did some research, talked to some people – the Patriots who play out here, some of our NHL players who play games out here. You really just can't be concerned with it. It's all four teams dealing with it – if we could come out and prepare for two weeks, it would be a different story. We haven't made a big deal out if it at all. We understand that it's a mile-high city. We've come out here and played Denver a couple different times the last five or six years, and never really stressed out on it. We probably hydrate a little more, but its something we can't control.

Q: How do you keep your players focused with a week off between the regionals and Frozen Four?
A: The championship keeps them focused. They are looking at the big prize, and not often can you sit back and say ‘I've accomplished something that puts me at the best in my field.' For us its hockey, and the goal is to be the very best you can be; to be the best team in the country, which is awful hard to do. That focus is inherent in all hockey players – they want to win the national title.

Q: Can you talk about senior Mike Brennan, who has appeared in every game in his four-year career?
A: Every year, we're scheduled to play 34 games. When you look at how many games he's played in, that's the most impressive thing. He's been on good teams, and been a good leader, so he's played in lot more than just that 34 times four.

Boston College Senior Mike Brennan -- Defense
Q: Opening Statement...
A: It's nice to be playing hockey this time of year when the weather is getting hotter and hotter. We're really happy to be here playing at the Pepsi Center. It's been a little bit of a roller-coaster year, especially at the beginning and the end of the year. We're excited to have this opportunity and like I said we're just really excited to be here. We know North Dakota has a great team and we have a little bit of a rivalry going. The last four years, especially last year and the last couple years in the tournament, so it's nothing new for our senior class.

Q: You mentioned a familiarity with North Dakota with how often you've played them in the last few years, have they become as big a rival to you guys as some of your rivals in Hockey East? Is North Dakota approaching the level of some of those rivalry's?
A: I think it's a different feeling, I mean playing against BU at home is a really good Boston rivalry and you always get fired up for those weekends, but it seems to me that we always play North Dakota on a bigger stage. The one time we played with BU at a regional and that was a huge game, but I think the higher the level of the tournament and the crowds get bigger and the lights get brighter. I think its an intense as rivalry as we have.

Q: If you can take us back to your thinking when you guys were in your two ruts, the one around the time of the Beanpot, and the one that ended on the last night of the regular season. Do you guys remember anything you were saying, or what you were preaching to the team as the captains?
A: It's never a great feeling to go through those ruts. It's inevitable during the season, to have a few ups and downs. I think the main thing for us was in the locker room with sticking together and never doubting ourselves.

Boston College Junior Nathan Gerbe -- Forward
Q: Opening Statement...
A: It's been a roller-coaster year, but we've had a lot of trust in our locker room. It's probably been the funnest team I've been apart of, from the coaching staff to the fourth line, to our backup goalies. We know North Dakota is going to be a tough task we've played them the last few years and I think all the guys are ready to go for it.

Q: You guys didn't handle Miami's physical play early on in that game, North Dakota is also a big strong team, talk about your preparation this week for them and what you might do differently.
A: I think our team sat back at the start of the first period and they took it to us. Coming into the locker room, coach let us know that we could really turn it around, by playing our best hockey. That's the same mentality we have to take (into the UND game), we can't hope not to lose, we have to go out and be aggressive.

Boston College Senior Matt Greene -- Forward
Q: Opening Statement...
A: I'd just like to echo what Nate said, we've got a great team, a very close team, a team growing in confidence. Everybody is a part of the bandwagon. It's a fun team to be with and we're ready to play. For the past four years for myself and the other seniors, it's never an easy game so we're looking forward to the challenge.

Q: You guys didn't handle Miami's physical play early on in that game, North Dakota is also a big strong team, talk about your preparation this week for them and what you might do differently.
A: I think on paper we're not the biggest team, but we're gritty, those numbers don't determine how much heart and consistency this team plays with. I think we have a team that's just as physical. We did sit back in that Miami game, waiting to lose that game and finally we just snapped out of it. There are going to be bigger teams, but that's in any game, and I don't think it determines how well you're going to play.

Q: If you can take us back to your thinking when you guys were in your two ruts, the one around the time of the Bean-pot, and the one that ended on the last night of the regular season. Do you guys remember anything you were saying, or what you were preaching to the team as the captains?
A: It's real easy to pack it in when things aren't going well. What our coaches did was make us believe we were still as talented a team as we've been the last four years. So, once we believed that we really started making headway.

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