March 28, 2008
2008 NCAA MEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
NORTHEAST REGIONAL DCU CENTER WORCESTER, MASS.
MINNESOTA PRE-TOURNAMENT PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
MARCH 28, 2008
Head Coach Don Lucia, Freshman Goalie Alex Kangas, Junior Forward Blake Wheeler
Lucia: This year has certainly been a rollercoaster ride with this group; we've certainly had a lot of things going on on and off the ice through the course of this season, but this team has found a way. We worked our way up and got here the hard way by losing the first playoff game to Minnesota State in overtime and winning the next two and getting to the championship game in the Final Five. We're excited to be in Worcester, playing an exciting team in Boston College, a school with great tradition.
Did you think you were going to have a Shakespearean drama type of season this year going into it?
Kangas: I don't think anyone could have anticipated the kind of season we had this year. The last two teams here were fortunate enough to be a No. 1 seed going into the tournament.
This year you went into 16 overtimes. Do you think going that deep in that many games, whether you lost or won the game, will that be an advantage to you, or will that hamper you as you enter the tournament?
Wheeler: I think it will definitely help us, especially if we enter a game where it goes longer than the third period. Playing in those overtimes gives us an edge over others and I think we can use it as an advantage. The experience of being in long games I think will definitely help.
Kangas: I feel the same way Blake does, and feel that going into those overtimes this season gives an advantage to us as we enter the tournament. Going deep into regular season games helped bring our team closer together as well.
Why do you like being in the underdog role?
Lucia: We're so used to being the hunted every year and this year we were a little bit more under the radar. You look at what we've done in the playoffs and we've been wearing our maroon jerseys for the last seven games in a row meaning we're the lower seed, and I think that has suited our team just fine. I think there's more pressure on the higher seed getting into these "one and done" type formats. I'm happy for our players that they have been able to persevere. I think our seniors have played very well down the stretch. Our set of style, we're more of a grind it out and try to win it out in a 2-1 or 3-2 type game if we're going to advance with this group.
How have you changed your coaching and adapted to your team this year?
Lucia: Sometimes I got frustrated because I was used to trying to teach and coach guys how to do certain things, which with this group was difficult at times. If you look at our year, we just lost a lot; we lost a lot of close games. In the second half, there weren't any soft goals; it settled a lot of our ties. Towards the end, we started scoring a lot of those goals to win games. It's been an evolution. I don't think our style or what we've done as coaches has changed, I think it re-emphasizes what we have done and what were trying to do. You just have to stay with it.
What were your thoughts when you heard you were coming to Worcester?
Lucia: At that point, I didn't care where we were going. The thing about that national tournament, it's fun to play teams that aren't in your league. It's refreshing to play teams outside your league, you don't know them and they don't know you, it's more fun to play. We know we're playing in BC's back yard and that the majority of the fans will be from there. I hope that there's 14,000 fans because we're used to playing in difficult venues and packed houses. The more fans the better.
Talk about Boston College's Nathan Gerbe and your familiarity with him.
Lucia: I watched him at the beginning of the year. He's a dynamic player. He's a difference maker, a game breaker. I wish he was on our team. BC's got a few players like that that we don't have. If we're going to have a chance to win, we can't allow him to get two or three points on the night or it's going to be awfully difficult. He's the type of player you want to watch.