March 28, 2008
2008 NCAA MEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
NORTHEAST REGIONAL DCU CENTER WORCESTER, MASS.
AIR FORCE PRE-TOURNAMENT PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
MARCH 28, 2008
Head Coach Frank Serratore, Junior Defensemen Greg Flynn, Junior Forward Brent Olson
Serratore: We are thrilled to be here. We had the opportunity of playing last year and I think a lot of people have asked us if the experience we gained from last year is going to help us against Miami this year. I don't think it's going to help us in the game against Miami, because every game is different, every period is different, every year is different. But I really think the experience last year helped us get here. The majority of the players, the veteran players knowing what it's all about [how big of a deal it is, how much of a special opportunity it is to play in the NCAA tournament], the experience has really helped us.
Last year after playing Minnesota and giving them a lot more than they bargained for, I don't think we're going to see Miami looking past us. As far as our players, I think we're coming in with a lot more confidence about what we are and we're all about than last year.
Comparing last year to this year your team looks fairly loose from the pre-game practice. Would you say you feel more loose this year than you did last year coming into the National Tournament ?
Flynn: Coach has been letting us know that it's important to stay loose going into tomorrow's game. I don't think it helps anybody on our team if we are uptight.
The last quarter of the season your team has really been playing some great hockey with an eight game win streak. Can you explain anything different your team or coach has been doing different?
Olson: Coach challenged us collectively as a team to step it up and come together as a unit. When things are going bad or well we have been staying together as a unit. Much of that has to do with our seniors and captains, Matt Charbonneau, Eric Ehn, Mike Phillipich and Frank Schiavone. I think we have been handling the adversity throughout the later part of the season as a collective unit and it has been working.
What has happened during the last quarter of the season that has brought on this success?
Serratore: We lost Ehn to an injury and we didn't think he would be back the rest of the season. As a team, you either decide one way or you're going to go the other way. This group collectively, when you lose a player like Ehn, the culture of your team changes and we struggled for a bit. All of a sudden we scored seven goals in one game. I think it took a while for the culture of our team to adjust to life without Ehn. When we lost Eric, it forced some people to step up to the fore front and it ended up being a positive thing for our team. It proved to our players and the rest of the hockey world that we're not a one man band. Collectively, the group stepped up and ultimately accomplishing the run they've been on, it proves our strength is not with one player. Our strength is our competitive depth. They [the players] are very determined and are very driven, when you play us that is what you're playing against; you're going to be playing against our depth.
Miami, they went from a four seed to a one seed. Discuss what they're about this year.
Serratore: We watched a lot of film on them [Miami] and that movie would be categorized as a nightmare. When you're watching film on Miami, they are a deep team. They're well coached, obviously to win 30-plus games and come out of a conference like the CCHA; you've got to be doing a lot of things right. When we looked at film to try to find some weaknesses to exploit, they don't have a lot of weaknesses. Miami is very good and we're going to have to be hitting on all cylinders, we're going to have to be very detailed in our game in order to beat them.
What do you expect from Eric Ehn tomorrow?
Serratore: When we talked to him, you didn't have to ask him if he wanted to play. I asked him "what are going to be able to do for us tomorrow?" I told him I don't expect you to single-handedly lead us to the promise land, I want to know if you're better than twelfth forward, that you're going to be able to cut in, to be able to keep up. He felt he would be able to do that and that's good enough for me. This young man, along with this team, has put our team on the map. If there was any way he was even close to play, I want him in that game with me tomorrow.
What does Josh Schaffer bring to the team?
Serratore: He's a very good two-way player; he skates well and has good puck skill. He's greatest strength as a player is that he doesn't really have a real weakness. He's a very well rounded player; he plays in all different types of situations for us. He's just a great depth player for our team.
What kind of statement is Atlantic Hockey making in the last three years?
Serratore: The biggest challenge in front of us is maintaining what Atlantic Hockey has done in this tournament the last few years. Atlantic Hockey has done a really great job representing the league in the NCAA tournament. If there is any pressure we feel right now, it's maintaining the bar that has been set. One thing about leagues like Atlantic Hockey is our programs are going to cyclical; we don't have those reloads programs. The best team in Atlantic Hockey can play; the best teams in our league are pretty darn good.