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1 posts categorized "Notre Dame"

April 06, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year ... again (Frozen Four style)

FELDY: How often do Phersy and I use that headline? We have a lot of most wonderful times of the year around here. Usually that headline comes out when hockey season starts, or when the playoffs at any particular level of hockey are intensifying.

That's certainly the case this weekend, as the NCAA Division I Frozen Four makes its return to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The last time it was here -- 2002 -- some team from just across the river won it by beating Maine in OT. I might add, it took a player from North Dakota scoring in OT to finally bring the Gophers a title, after 23 years ... :-)

My only prediction for this weekend: The Gophers will not win the NCAA title this time around at The X. Should North Dakota be considered the favorite? Probably. If these were 2-out of-3 series, I'd feel confident in saying the Sioux will win. But this is a one-game shot, followed by another one-game shot, and the other three teams have a ton of talent.

Today was practice day for Minnesota-Duluth, Notre Dame, Michigan and NoDak. Each team also held a post-practice press conference. Here are some of the better comments that came from those:

NOTRE DAME COACH JEFF JACKSON

On the one-game format…
"When you get into one-game situations, it is just a matter of which team goes out and plays 60 solid minutes of great discipline, as far as not taking unnecessary penalties. … One shift can be the difference in the game."

NOTRE DAME SR. F RYAN GUENTZEL

His advice to the 11 freshmen on the roster…
"Enjoy the moment. You're not guaranteed to be in this situation every year. It's really exciting. With such a young team, some people think we are at a disadvantage experience-wise. As far as energy and enthusiasm, I think we're a step ahead."

UMD COACH SCOTT SANDELIN

On the matchup against Notre Dame …
"In some ways, they're similar to our team. They like to play aggressively, they forecheck aggressively. It's going to be critical to get pucks out of the zone and try to challenge them defensively. Special teams are going to be big. Hopefully we can win the special teams and chip one in five on five."

UMD JR. GOALIE KENNY REITER

On UMD's success late this season …
"We picked up our intensity at the end of the season. We've paid extra attention to special teams and systems because special teams are obviously important to have clicking at the end of the year."

UMD SR. D MIKE MONTGOMERY

On the intensity of the Frozen Four…
"In our league, it's a battle every night and it turns into a grind by the end of the year. It's just a mentality thing. As soon as we got into the playoffs, everybody buckled down and knew their role and that's how they've been playing."

MICHIGAN COACH RED BERENSON

On who the crowd will support …
"I think they will root for Michigan. I know the animosity between Minnesota and North Dakota. If it was a game at Michigan State, they would be cheering for North Dakota. We have to play our best game of the season, no matter who is here."

On why Michigan can win …
"Stranger things have happened. You need good goalkeeping, good penalty killing, good backchecking, good play coming out of your zone and you need to be opportunistic. We know they are a better team, but we are going to come and play hard."

MICHIGAN SR. F CARL HAGELIN

On playing possibly in front of a pro-North Dakota crowd …
"We all want to be here, so it doesn't matter where we play. We focus on our task, and our task is to win the game."

NORTH DAKOTA HEAD COACH DAVE HAKSTOL

On facing Michigan …
"I have a great deal of respect for their program, the history and tradition of their program, and the success they have had. More specifically, I have a significant amount of respect for their team this year and the accomplishments they've had over the long haul, winning the CCHA and how well they're playing right now. They're a complete hockey team in every sense of the word."

NORTH DAKOTA JR. F JASON GREGOIRE

On the media attention the Sioux have had lately …
"A big aspect of team lately is that no egos have crept in whatsoever. Whether that is individual awards or media attention, we are all focused on one goal. People might think we are just being cliche, but we actually believe it. We are focusing on the job at hand. Right now, that is Michigan."

NORTH DAKOTA SR. D CHAY GENOWAY

On returning for his fifth season at UND, after suffering a season-ending concussion last year …
"It has been a great experience so far. Obviously, last year was a tough one for me personally. Just to have the chance to do it over again has been pretty special. For this year's senior class to take me and to have the opportunity to join their class has been a pretty cool thing. That's a group of six guys who are pretty tight-knit. It's been a fun ride so far and hopefully we have a lot of memories to come."