“What a hockey game. I’d like to congratulate Yale on a great season. It’s no mystery why they’re in this tournament. They play as hard as anyone we play against, they’ve got a great goalie. It really was everything that we thought it would be. We knew it would probably come down to a one-goal game — possibility of overtime.
I think this game, in a lot of ways, was a microcosm of our season. I thought we looked a little nervous early, give a lot of credit to Yale for the way we played early, I thought they were at their “A” game, they were just a half-a-step quicker, winning a lot of battles and then it was funny, once they went up 1-0, I thought we just started playing better. It was almost like the pressure was off. We’re a lot more comfortable being down then we are ahead for some reason and I just thought after that, we started playing,
I thought for the most part, early in the game, I thought our defense were backing off quite a bit, they weren’t involved in the offense. We were turning pucks over — again, give Yale a lot of credit, they’ve got great sticks, they’re quick on loose pucks — but I really liked after we went down 1-0, I thought we started playing. It was almost like, it was a little bit of a relief, the pressure is off for some strange reason, don’t ask me why, and after that, I thought we played the way we needed to play.
In the second period, we didn’t have a shot in between the hash marks, and you’re not beating anybody, let alone Yale, if you’re gonna play that way. I thought in the last three or four minutes, we did a good job in the second period, then in the third period, I thought we did all the things we needed to do. I thought we did the things we did against Merrimack and Lowell and we got rewarded for it.
To get the goal in the fashion that we did — our D got involved offensively, Somerby makes a great play on the overtime goal, pinches in, keeps the puck alive — Jack backs him up, Evan and Danny get to the net front, Jack gets a puck to the net and Danny gets a rebound overtime goal and we’ve seen that movie before.
Just an unbelievable game. Again, a microcosm of our season in many ways. We’re just fortunate and excited about playing again tomorrow night.”
On a night where one of your freshmen might have had a little nerves, how important was it to have guys like Rodrigues, O’Regan and Grzelcyk have such good nights and be such integral parts of the win?
“Well, that’s always important. That’s what kind of gets lost in the success we’ve had this season. As Evan alluded to, we are the youngest team in college hockey. Again, because of our record, I think people at times can loose sight of that, but one of the reasons we’ve been able to overcome our slow starts, why we’ve had great third periods, why we’ve had the season we’ve had, is because of our leadership. And I’m not just talking about four seniors, I mean, our juniors, our sophomores have assumed a leadership and its kind of got contagious throughout the roster. It’s just, we never think we’re out of it. … It was eerie the way the feeling kinda changed on the bench when we went down 1-0. Everybody seemed to be a little bit looser and we started to do the things we needed to do if we’re gonna generate offense and have some of the success we’ve had through the season. Without question those guys are pivotal to our success. They really set the tone for our season, They embraced a big freshman class and I’ve said this before — we are a true team — and that certainly plays a large part to how our retuning players accepted the freshmen.”
What does it say about your team that you didn’t let Yale’s comeback offerings deflate them?
“You know, at this time of year, you’re not gonna spend 60 minutes in the offensive zone. You’re playing good hockey teams and you’re gonna have to weather a storm, you’re gonna have to fight through a difficult shift. I thought we did a good job of that. Obviously our power play goes 0-for-7, that hasn’t happened very often this year. Give them a lot of credit, I thought they did a great job killing penalties, their goalie obviously was a big part of that, they do a great job with their sticks. They make your earn every inch of ice, but again, no matter what the hump is, we’ve seemed to overcome it so far this year. We’re prob going to have a few bumps in the road in tomorrow’s game no matter who our opponent is. That’s the way it’s gonna be from here on in and in college hockey, that’s usually the way it is night in and night out.”
See any similarities to 2009 team?
“Well, we’re similar in that we’re playing to get to the Frozen Four, but I think our teams are different. That team had a big senior class. We weren’t relying on 8-10 freshmen a night. We knew the year before, we almost made the national tournament, we knew we had a good team. There was a lot of uncertainty going to this season. I think people are probably surprised, maybe not now, but as the season was unfolding, I think people might be surprised at the situation we’re in, because we’re picked to finish sixth in Hockey East and rightfully so after the year we had last year. A lot of people probably didn’t think we’d have a lot of success this season. Obviously, Jack brought a lot of attention and fanfare to us, but we had a lot of good returning players too. But to me, the biggest difference between this team and that team is that team had a lot more experience than this team. It was a little bit more of a veteran-laden team, where as this team, we rely on a lot of freshmen.”
What went through your mind when you saw that you had to play Yale?
“I said to this to the team — I’m sure it happens in all the other sports — you get your draw in the NCAA tournament and you think, ‘Oh god, why are we here? Why are we playing that team? We got screwed.’ Everybody says that. You’ve just gotta play. You’re in the national tournament, you’re playing good hockey teams. You can’t sit there and try to figure our why you’re playing who you’re playing and where you’re playing. You just gotta show up and play the hockey game.
I could hear some of the mumblings after the selection show, our guys are no different that everybody else. 18 year olds always think that someone is trying to screw them. Our guys are no different.”
What was Yale doing to stop you from getting zone time early on?
“Well, they were playing quicker than we were, they were more physical than we were and they were winning more battles. I know that may be simplistic, but that’s the truth. We looked nervous, it’s like Evan and Danny talked about, we are the youngest team in college hockey. I know we’ve been in some pressure situations throughout the last month, but never in a situation where if you lose, your season is over.
We played the Beanpot championship and that’s an exciting, pressure-filled game, but you know you’re gonna play another game. We played the Hockey East semifinals and finals, those are pressure situations, but you know you’re gonna play another game. This is a whole new ballgame. I think it really showed early and again, it says a n awful lot about a team when you can play as poorly as we did and again, I don’t want to discredit Yale. One of the reason we weren’t playing well is because they were playing well, but to be able to turn it on like we did says an awful lot about our mental toughness.”