WORCESTER, Mass. -- Greetings from the underbelly of the DCU Center in Worcester. I like the media working area in the basement, and the rink is wonderfully accessible.
The press box doesn't exist. It's a table set over some chairs, with chairs behind it. If this were a WCHA building, it would be the 12th- or 13th-best press box in the league, possibly ahead of Alaska Anchorage.
Doesn't say much about NCAA standards.
Later on, I'll send along some quotes from Maine head coach Tim Whitehead and seniors Brian Flynn and Will O'Neill, along with anything of interest that comes out of UMD's press conference.
For now, here are some nuggets from the earlier press conferences, involving the combatants in Saturday's early game, Boston College and Air Force.
Air Force coach Frank Serratore on the team's underdog status:
"First of all, even though we play in Atlantic Hockey we are the road team. . . Secondly, we are the underdog. I called my brother Tom in Bemidji last night and was chatting with him. And his kids had done the brackets in school – that’s part of the curriculum in Bemidji, Minn., to do the NCAA brackets. My three nephews and nieces filled out their brackets and none of them picked Air Force. I can’t even get my nephews and nieces to pick Air Force in a for fun bracket, so we are the road team and we are the underdog but we are sure happy to be here. We’ve earned our way here for the fifth time in six years, having to win our conference tournament. . . We’ve been here before, we’ve played the top seeds before, we’re looking forward to the game."
Air Force senior defenseman and Hobey Baker finalist Tim Kirby on Boston College:
"From what I’ve seen, and from video, they are a quick team. I mean, they’ve got nine NHL draft picks and I’m sure a bunch of (others) could go play pro after (college) too. We just have to minimize our turnovers and play our game, because they are going to be able to capitalize on mistakes that we make. We just have to play our game, play hard."
Kirby on the matchup:
"I think we can play our game. We’ve been here, maybe the past couple years a few of us were new to it, but this year basically our whole team has been to the NCAA Tournament, and fought the number one seed into overtime, and lost on a goal that maybe we could have had back, but I definitely think we can. We just have to play mistake free."
Serratore on the caliber of teams in this tournament:
"Hey they’re all good. If you don’t want to play the top seed, don’t be the 16th seed, or the 15th or the 14th. You know we play tough opponents. They’re all tough in their own way. All these teams are a little bit. I think I compare Boston College to that Michigan team we played because they’ve got that great speed and they want to impose their will on you in every facet of the game. Even watching their penalty kill, I mean, our penalty killers are instructed if they get possession of the puck in the defensive zone, you ice it 200 feet and get off the ice and we get fresh troops on the ice. They get it and they attack. I guess that’s how you score 11 shorthanded goals. Maybe that’s why we’ve only scored two but it just goes to show you how much confidence and swagger that they have. They’ll attack you even when they’re a man down. That Michigan team had that same element about them."
Serratore on Kirby:
"Tim is kind of, for our program, like our supermodel. I mean he’s got that ability. We don’t get many players that have the talent the skill to lift you out of your seat. At Air Force right now, whenever he touches the puck, our fans have gotten so used to his electric rushes. You know he attacks, his jersey is flapping. And he can break people down one on one. He’s got that ability to lift people out of their seats. Our fans at Air Force, when he grabs the puck in the D-zone they literally start cheering because they anticipate something exciting is going to happen."
Boston College coach Jerry York on Air Force:
"I like their club. I’ve watched them on tape and we watched them in the Ice Breaker earlier, and I think they lost two one-goal games to … North Dakota (and) Michigan (State) . . . very traditional, powerful teams. You think of a service academy, and they’ve almost done what Navy’s done with football with their program. They’re competing on a national level with some outstanding young people. Our admiration goes to the service academy because of what their commitment is. They are committed to an underdog role when they play Miami or Michigan or, last year, Yale. And certainly this year and we know that they’re going to push us to our limits tomorrow. Every year’s different. . . You don’t come into these national tournaments thinking it’s going to be easy – it’s difficult to win them. It’s difficult to get out of your regional and you understand that that’s sports. There’s no guarantees who advances here, and we’ve seen it. We’ve had teams go all the way and win trophies. We’ve also during that stretch won an awful lot of close games. We’ve been beaten by teams on those particular nights are better than us. . . We’re all aware of how hard it is to win, and this region is a very difficult region."
York on Kirby:
"He’s a legitimate All-America candidate. He’s been a backbone of their team for four years – big strong player, logs an awful lot of minutes. We’ve watched tape of him this week, and he’s probably up around 25 minutes a game, and he’s one of their keys to their attack and to the defense."
Boston College senior defenseman Tommy Cross on last year's 8-4 loss to Colorado College in the NCAA Tournament:
"We put that behind us a long time ago. Besides . . . getting asked questions about it, we don’t think about it too much. We’re focused on Air Force. We’re a different team this year and . . . it’s been different. This year has been unique from my other three years here. . . We have a pretty focused team as far as win or lose. Move on and focus on the next one. It’s definitely no different this time. We’re pretty pumped for tomorrow."
Cross on the Boston College program's success:
"The first thing that comes to my mind is just the coaching that we have. That comes from coach York, obviously. But the kids that are in the program, there’s a big trickle-down effect. . . Ben Smith and Matt Lombardi, they learned from guys above them, and we learned from those guys. I think (there are) a lot of constants from year to year, and at the same time each group is different."
York on defenseman and Hobey finalist Brian Dumoulin:
"He was a very good player when he enrolled at our school, and to his credit he’s worked really hard in the weight room. He’s stronger now, each year he gets better at every aspect of his game. So I’ve seen improvement in his puck handling ability, his skating of course, his strength – which is the biggest factor – and I think he’s become more of a team leader. He’s more vocal now than he was when he first came, and he’s a real central part of our team core."