Thursday, March 24, 2016

NCAA Northeast Regional Quotes: Harvard vs Boston College

WORCESTER, Mass. -- With the regional beginning on Friday, all four teams convened at DCU Center for practices and press conferences.

Here are the transcripts for the Harvard and Boston College pressers, as provided by the Holy Cross sports information staff.

Harvard was represented by head coach Ted Donato, forward Kyle Criscoulo, goalie Merrick Madsen, and forward Jimmy Vesey.

Opening Statement:
DONATO: “I would just like to say that we are very excited to be back in the NCAA tournament. We’re also very excited to be here in Worcester - it looks like a great place to have the Regional. Obviously, we have a great opponent in Boston College and I know our guys are excited about that challenge.”

On playing against Coach York and recruiting local kids:
DONATO: “I think there’s a lot of competition on that front. I think that each school is amazing in its own right and has some differences to them. I would say first and foremost, Coach York has been a first-class act - incredibly successful over the years and it’s really been a pleasure to watch him run that program both before I was coaching and now that I get to coach against him. There’s a lot of respect there and I think our players share that respect. Tomorrow night - it’s a different story. It’s a great opportunity for us, a great challenge for us. It’s pretty clear that over the last 15 years or so, there’s been nobody who’s done it better in the NCAA tournament in ice hockey than Boston College and that’s great but that’s also not right now. Just like the fact that we haven’t won a game in quite some time in the NCAA - that’s not really on our minds either. I
do think there’s a difference from us last year and this year coming into the game. Last year, we didn’t know we were going to be in the tournament. We won the ECAC and everything got turned around in a week - we had to get out to Notre Dame. This year is a little bit different mindset and I think the focus is very much on not just being in the tournament, but really trying to play our best to advance.”

On Alexander Kerfoot’s role on the team:
DONATO: “I think internally both teammates and coaches have incredible appreciation for what Alexander Kerfoot brings to the table every night. He’s got electric speed, really sees the ice. He’s good defensively and offensively, he’s got a sixth sense to be able to distribute the puck at the right time and he’s just a really clever hockey player that makes things go for his line-mates. He’s able to defend from down low and get us on offense. He’s an excellent penalty killer - a lot of our power play runs through him as well. He’s a great player and does so many little things that he’s very appreciated inside the locker room.”

On supporting Jimmy Vesey for the Hobey Baker Award:
DONATO: “I think this is another back-to-back, incredible year for him. Led our league in goals, led our league in points - I think second in the league in assists as well. He’s up at the top of national ranks as far as game-winning goals. I think he’s performed well under a lot of scrutiny and under a lot of pressure and has really been targeted by other teams trying to shut him down. We play in a league that is very sound defensively, very disciplined in the fact that there are not a lot of penalties. I think of some of the top 15 teams in the country, and the top three least penalized teams are all in our league so he doesn’t have that same amount of opportunities, whether it’s on the power play or have the game open up. So, I really think his numbers have come the hard way and I think he’s been an outstanding player. I think there are plenty of guys who have had great years, but I think to have had the year that he’s had under the pressure and scrutiny that he’s been under - I think that makes him a great candidate.

On Kyle Criscuolo’s role as a two-year captain and leader:
DONATO: “I think that Kyle has, as far as my time at Harvard, reset the bar for what a captain can be. I think he’s incredibly humble, very well respected by his teammates, coaches, trainers, strength coaches. He’s just a first-class guy. While’s he’s very humble, intelligent, great community leader - he also brings that grit and toughness that we like our players to have and he is a guy that leads by example first and I think he’s such a role model for our players and a great teammate as well. I can’t say enough about what Kyle has meant to us as a captain this year.”

On Jimmy Vesey’s article in “The Player’s Tribune”:
DONATO: “I think it certainly is an interesting forum. To hear from somebody in their own words and to see very clearly that there are great, warm feelings about his experience with his teammates, with the program, with the University. I think it was a great insight into what college athletics should be all about. I think Jimmy certainly wants to be a professional hockey player. He has put in all the time and effort; his compete level is that level; his talent level is that level. But I think he also has a great respect for the educational opportunity he has at Harvard and has taken advantage of it, so he really is a special guy not only for Harvard but across college athletics. The article that he offered was, I think, something that was very well received.”

On what Paul Pearl has added to the staff:
DONATO: “I think Paul has been tremendous. If you just took a snapshot of the other night when we’re playing in the ECAC Championship game with three defensemen that are two freshmen and a sophomore that have played a combined 29, 30 college hockey games. Paul has done a great job with our defense core. He’s done a great job with our power play, which has been amongst the tops in the country all year and I think, for me personally, I think he’s been a blessing in the sense that his experience not only in coaching, but all the personal aspects - the development of young men, balancing the academics and the hockey. I think Paul is a first-class person and a tremendous hockey coach. He’s made a major impact in a positive way and we feel very fortunate to have him with us.”

On it being the first time in history that all Beanpot teams are in the tournament and all are coached by teams they played for:
DONATO: “I think it’s neat. All four teams being coached by alums and I think that it just goes to show the caliber of play amongst those Boston schools and the competition amongst each other. It really is a great sign for college hockey in this area and in the East that all four teams make the NCAA tournament. We’ll all be pulling for each other, at least everybody likes Harvard on the outside - it’s interesting but I think each one of these programs deserves a lot of credit. BC, for being here year in and year out and BU with their performance last year and following it up right back with the tournament and Northeastern. I think a lot has been said about their kind of tale of two seasons, but as a coach and a former player, you really have to respect what it would take to make that kind of turn around and win the Hockey East Championship. They deserve a ton of credit and I think everything they’ve received since winning has been well earned so, good luck to them.”

On playing another first round game:
CRISCUOLO: “Yeah I mean I think that even last weekend we learned a little bit about the one and done scenario, I think we obviously need to stay out of the box when we can but I think we are ready to play Boston College. We know what it is like to play with our backs against the wall like last weekend and I think we are really excited about the opportunity.”

On their Beanpot game against BC earlier this season:
CRISCUOLO: “Yeah I think it is a similar story, they scored on the power play against us and Demko played pretty well. I don’t think we got to the net as often as we would have liked to. I think we need to put pucks in the net, and I think in a smaller arena I think we need to get bodies in front of the net. It is a little bit of a different set up on the ice than we are used to [here]. I think the zones are a little bigger, but there’s not as much space behind the net, so everything we have to be putting towards their goal.”

On playing close to home:
VESEY: “Yeah I think we are excited to be in Worcester, like coach said, it’s not too far from both schools actually. So, I know there is going to be probably a lot of support from both sides. I know we have one or two student buses coming from Harvard and I think it should be a pretty big alumni event as well, so I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere and a really fun game to play in and we are looking forward to tomorrow night.”

On playing in net after earning consistent starts:
MADSEN: “Yeah obviously there was a battle at the beginning of this year, but I mean I look at it even like last year pushing Steve and that kind of competition all last year with having someone that you’re battling for that job, it forces both of you to play better. I think obviously the competition and having the job somewhat up in the air pushed both of us a little bit and I just tried to take advantage of the opportunities I had early in the season and I tried to do the best I could.”

On continuity on the line:
VESEY: “It has been really special I think to play with the same two line mates for the last two seasons. Every game we have been healthy we have played together and I think that we kind of just developed a strong chemistry as a group. Sometimes it seems like we don’t even need to look to see where the other guys are, we kind of know exactly where they are going to be. It has been really fun to play with those two guys, they work so hard and create so much for me that it has been a blessing to play with them.”

CRISCUOLO: Yeah I agree. I think we all bring a little bit of different styles to the table and working together I think we open up different things for each other and I think we just work off each other well.”

Boston College had coach Jerry York, goalie Thatcher Demko, and forward Teddy Doherty at the podium.

Opening Statement:
YORK: “We like all the other 15 schools involved are very excited. I think it is something we all look forward to are NCAA tournaments. You know you see the excitement with watching the basketball the last few weeks and the same thing permeates in the hockey world, to be part of a group coming in to Worcester and having Harvard as an opponent, it’s pretty exciting for our team and for our coaches and I’m just genuinely proud of our team this year to make it to the NCAA Tournament and now our sights are set to see if we can get by Harvard who has an awful lot of problems for us.”

On the strength and parity within NCAA hockey which makes the tournament wide open:
YORK: “I think the level of hockey throughout the United States and the collegiate rankings is not A-Z anymore it’s a lot tighter. You might perceive some upsets, but just like in basketball, it’s who’s the best team that particular night. In hockey, there are 50-plus teams that play, but it’s not a wide disparity among the league’s now and even the bottom parts of leagues are strong and you see some upsets. Look at RIT upset Robert Morris, I think the field is very balanced. Ferris certainly wasn’t a lock to come out of the WCHA, I just think it’s a lot closer the really top end teams and what we generally consider 16 and below is extremely close now.”

On playing in Worcester (Last 5 regionals held in Worcester, BC has advanced to the Frozen Four, 3 Nat’l Titles):
YORK: “The venue is close to home so it’s good for our student body and our alumni who live in the area to come join us, but other than that it’s a hockey game, it’s a hockey rink and you can’t say we won here this particular year so we will win tomorrow night. It’s a brand new situation for us each year and if we won that many times then we’ve played very very well when we won. Nobody just lets you advance to the final Championship Game. It’s comfortable because it’s close, but I don’t think because we won here in the past we will win again, you have to earn it.”

On Teddy Doherty:
YORK: “He’s been a good player for us. He’s bounced back-and-forth from defense and forward and never complained about it. He’s worked on his strength since day one and he’s always been a terrific leader, but his skill level has shown constant improvement. We are glad he’s with us now, one of only two seniors who dress for us. He’s had a nice career here at BC.”

On familiarity playing Harvard, a common opponent, as opposed to a new team you are seeing for the first time:
YORK: “We drill our film preparation no matter who we play. We are pretty familiar with the NCHC and Big Ten we follow it very closely with a lot of televised games. We follow college hockey very closely at BC. I think this is Teddy’s [Donato] best team he’s had, certainly Criscuolo, Kerfoot and Vesey are top end players and form an outstanding line, but whoever we would have played would have had comparable players like that. We are a little more familiar because we see them on a more regular basis. The comfort level is never up or down, we are always uncomfortable going into a game because we respect the other opponents. So, whether we would have played Duluth, Providence or Harvard we would be uncomfortable.”

On the continuity of Harvard’s first line:
YORK: “I think you can tell watching them play they move pucks well. They present a lot of creative offensive chances by moving the puck and Thatcher [Demko] needs to be aware when they are on the ice and our teams aware also, but they are deeper than just that line. They have an outstanding line, but like I said this is his [Ted Donato] best collection of players he’s had.”

On high penalty minutes per game / penalty kill success:
YORK: “Sometimes the top end teams, it’s just human nature, we get more calls against. We go into most games as a favorite and I think it’s human nature to protect the underdog and that’s part of it. Whether it’s basketball or football or hockey we see some of that. The majority of it is we just need to defend by moving our feet and not reaching. When you reach, you cause problems if it’s a hooking penalty or tripping penalty, moving our feet will help with that. It’s nice getting to the national tournament because everyone is considered a good team and you don’t have that ‘Hey we got to protect the underdogs’.”

On local recruiting battles for Massachusetts players between Beanpot schools:
YORK: “We are always competing against Harvard, BU and Northeastern, the Beanpot schools, they are all difficult to recruit against, no one just walks in the door. We also have Michigan coming in and Notre Dame and North Dakota when we go west. So, it’s not easy to get the top top end players to your school, but the Beanpot schools with Boston kids we run into that a little more and it’s never easy recruiting players.”

On Northeastern’s late season surge to win Hockey East Championship:
YORK: “Never from a 1-11 start or 1-10 start [have I seen a team make such a run to close out a season] I’ve seen teams go on runs, the really good clubs, but generally it’s they’ve been very good and all of a sudden they go on a run, but what Jim [Madigan] did is remarkable. A team that looked like they were in disarray lost a couple games real early to Bentley and just never could put it together, and all-of-a-sudden to achieve what they’ve done is remarkable. If I had a vote for coach of the year, and I will later on, he is certainly my favorite. I thought they were a pretty good club, they competed very hard, but in my wildest dreams I never thought they would run off 22-23 games and play as well as they have. They haven’t upset anyone their play has been outstanding.”

On Notre Dame’s departure from Hockey East to join Big Ten in 2017-18
YORK: “I thought they really added a lot to our league, especially the BC/Notre Dame Rivalry. The two are major Division I schools battling each other in different sports. We would have liked to have seen them stay, but I can also understand the footprint with the Big Ten, they can bus to Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State it’s going to be a lot easier for their travel situation. We are going to miss the Irish for sure. In the long run it is better for them and we wish them the very best of luck. We will still play them, ND/BC we will still play.”

On teams from the Northeast in the tournament:
DOHERTY: “This is really good for our conference. We had a really strong conference this year and it’s evident by all the teams we got in. With Northeastern winning the Hockey East Tournament it speaks to how deep our league is. They were the sixth seed and with the top five teams, all of us could have easily won that tournament. It’s something to be very proud of, it’s a very deep conference, we go to war every weekend with any team we play against. It’s something that we’re very proud of here at Boston College.”

On his experience at Boston College:
DOHERTY: “It’s been a great four years here, hopefully we can extend it a few more weeks. It’s been everything I ever thought it would be. My teammates made it so special for me, we got to the Frozen Four in Philadelphia, that’s probably been the highlight of my career for sure along with the Beanpots. Hopefully we can get down to Tampa this year, but it’s been an incredible four years and I can’t thank my teammates and my coaches enough.”

On Boston College’s success on defense:
DOHERTY: “Thatcher [Demko] has backstopped a pretty good defensive core we’ve got here. I think we’ve been a little lackadaisical in our defensive zone lately, and it’s been a point of emphasis for us this week. Bearing down in the d-zone and eliminating the other team’s chances, and versus a team like Harvard that’s going to be critical. If we’re going to win this game, we’ve got to limit their offensive zone time. Of course, Thatcher has a lot to do with it, he’s been playing great. We expect the same out of him, and he has high expectations for himself.”

DEMKO: “Like Teddy said, we’ve been trying to emphasize it a little bit. We’ve been having some good defensive numbers this year, but we all think that we can still be better. This week in practice we really worked on it and our compete level in the d-zone was really high. That’s something we’re looking to do and carry it into this weekend.”

On preparing for Harvard:
DOHERTY: “I guess I’d say that we prepare the same way for every team that we face. The fact that it’s a Beanpot opponent that we’re playing and that we’ve seen them, it benefits us because we know what we’re getting ourselves into. We know how good their offense is, it’s high octane and they have a lot of strengths that we need to be ready for. Playing a team like Harvard, it helps us a lot, there’s a little bit of change from when we played them in February but not much, so we’re ready to go with that.”

On growing up in the area/his nature as a teammate:
DOHERTY: “Being from Hopkinton, I always went to BC games, my uncle played for Coach [Jerry York] when they won the national championship in 2001 in Albany. Ever since I saw them win that game, I wanted to go to Boston College. Being able to be recruited by Coach York, it was almost indescribable, unrealistic. I’m just so happy with the decision to come to Boston College. As far as contributing, I’ll play goalie if I have to. If Thatcher got hurt, I’d step in the net for sure. I just do whatever I can to help the team win. Be a superstar in your role, that’s what Coach has been preaching since day one when I got there freshman year. Just doing the best I can, playing wing or defense or whatever I do.”

On Teddy Doherty’s play:
DEMKO: “I love this kid. He’s one of my best friends on the team, along with everyone else. He’s been an incredible leader this year. He keeps things light, but at the same time, there’s that level of focus in the room. It’s just been a lot of fun, he makes it fun coming to the rink every day. It can be a grind mid-season coming to the rink every day, working hard and getting on the ice for practice, but he makes it fun somehow every single day. All the guys look up to him and he’ll definitely be missed next year.”

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