Yale 3, UMass Lowell 2
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Well, Coach, we'll start with you and then take questions for the players and your thoughts.
COACH ALLAIN: Oh, just so proud of our guys. The way they played for the tournament here and the way they came out and started the game, faced a little bit of adversity there in the middle of the second period, but regrouped and kind of just stuck with the plan.
Line after line, Dpair after Dpair, I thought we were just came after Lowell, came after Lowell, and eventually Andrew was able to get the game winner there in overtime. And make no mistake about it, Lowell is a great and worthy opponent, and that's what makes the win so special for us.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players?
Q. Guys, can you talk about what you did to take UMass Lowell out of their transition game all season, especially in the playoffs? They had done a good job of transitioning. It seemed like tonight you almost turned the tables like you did to teams like Wisconsin.
ANDREW MILLER: I think we did a good job of four tracking the pressure on their "D". We wanted to get it in their zone. We made sure to apply good back pressure. They're a really good offensive team. You're going to face a really good offensive team in the Frozen Four. I think we did an okay job neutralizing. They scored one transition goal, and we definitely didn't totally lock up their transition game.
GUS YOUNG: One thing we did really well was we were really disciplined in our shapes. I was third guy high. Our "D" were back. One of our "D" was always pinching and backing him up. So really good discipline and kept our shapes really well, slowed them down on their own end.
ANTOINE LAGANIERE: Yeah, I would just add that I think we did a good job of staying on the defensive side. When you do that, it's hard to capitalize on the opportunities they've gotten, so...
Q. Andrew, can you comment on scoring the winning goal and the satisfaction that comes with that to send an ECAC team to a championship game?
ANDREW MILLER: It is just an honor. I think we've worked hard to be here, and we've got a good balance. It was just a matter of time before we popped one.
Q. Andrew, I have to ask how you came to be in possession of Jari Kurri's helmet? What can you tell us about your head gear?
ANDREW MILLER: This is a team award that we hand out after every win. I was honored enough to receive the award tonight.
Q. You guys put a lot of effort into taking as many shots as you did. But you took a whole lot, and came up empty handed and had to go to overtime. Was there ever any concern that, Geez, we gave these guys our best shot and they're still sticking around. Does that ever enter into your head that these guys aren't going away yet? For any one of you?
ANDREW MILLER: I would say no. And I guess we proved that in the overtime period. That was our plan going in was just to take shots and get rebounds and going through traffic in the end it all paid off for us.
Q. Gus, Lowell's players and coaches admitted a little bit that even after they got the two goals in the second period, it didn't change momentum. Can you talk about your team's bench and reaction, and how you guys stuck to what you were doing and persevered through that, which could have been a big turning point?
GUS YOUNG: One thing we preached all year and especially in the playoffs is there are going to be some ups and downs. They're going to score some goals. We're going to score some goals. They are going to give up chances; we are going to give up chances. I saw it in the Regionals against Minnesota, and we've been in that position before.
We just stuck to the game, kept bodies to the net; we kept our discipline, kept our shapes and we were able to wear them down and get going in the third and overtime.
Q. Andrew, can you talk about what happened on the gamewinning goal? You guys hadn't hit a lot of shots, but you had the odd man rushes. What got you behind the defense?
ANDREW MILLER: It was a good bouncing puck. I think we stopped them in transition a bit, came across, and I think it caught a defenseman flat footed. They have a really good goaltender, and he played a really good game.
But it's a great team goal, I think. We were able to put one past them, and it's an honor to move on.
Q. Antoine, you had a little bit of a scoring drought lately. To be able to break that in such a big moment, what was that like?
ANTOINE LAGANIERE: Yeah, it's always tough. I think every player kind of goes through that in his career. I mean, I've been aware of that, but I just kind of keep working in practice and keep working in games and finally it paid off.
Q. For any of the players, have you guys been playing the respect angle, especially having won through the West Regional kind of unheralded before the tournament?
GUS YOUNG: Not really. We just focus on ourselves. We let the media and other teams have their own opinion of us. We just have to work every day in practice, then come game time we just do what we have to do and don't worry about anyone else. So we're very focused on that.
THE MODERATOR: Anyone else want to chime in on that?
ANDREW MILLER: I think we did a good job, as Gus said, focusing on ourselves. If you worry too much about everything else and not worry about the game and what you have to do. People can say what they say, but we've beaten some really good hockey teams. We've also lost to some notsogreat hockey teams.
But that's the way our season goes. We've been able to bounce back, and it's kind of a good characteristic of our team.
THE MODERATOR: That was Andrew Miller for those of you listening and not seeing.
Q. Gus, I was just wondering what it was like to see Mitch score his first collegiate goal on such a big stage?
GUS YOUNG: Obviously, it's awesome to see anyone score, but to see him score his first goal is pretty surreal. It's a great time to score. He's really been working hard in practice every day, being able to get a shot through traffic, get the shot off, not get it blocked by the first and second layers. Obviously, it paid off for him. It is a great thing to see for the team. It got the team going too, to get him in and get the new guy good goal scoring opportunities.
Q. Andrew, we talked yesterday about handling the wow factor and all that stuff. What is the mindset now that you have a day off and prepare to play in the championship game on Saturday?
ANDREW MILLER: We are going to take a look at ourselves and see what we did right and see what we did wrong. We'll spend some time getting ready, relaxing, getting our legs back under us. I don't think you need more motivation to play in the National Championship Game. So we'll be able to take the time, maybe watch the Masters a bit and get ready to play.
Q. Andrew, I'm just curious, I'm entranced by this helmet. I'm curious if you could share me what some of the stuff on it means?
ANDREW MILLER: Well, the 1701 is when Yale University was founded. Sorry, sorry. That way. Got a Yale sticker, which is our school (laughing). Another Yale sticker, and Jofa who wasn't around when I was born, but it's a phenomenal helmet.
Q. What about the VM on the front?
ANDREW MILLER: I think that's Coach's.
COACH ALLAIN: That was the Jofa brand helmet, and it stands for World Championship in Swedish.
THE MODERATOR: Stands for World Championship in Swedish. Did you guys hear that? Very solid description, actually, especially about what the school is (laughing). I like it. Okay, we'll finish with the players in the back there.
Q. Guys, obviously, there are ebbs and flows to the season, but you struggled in the semifinals of the ECAC tournament. Something happened after that. What was that something? Also, the fact that the ECAC doesn't get probably the press it should, but do you feel with you and Quinnipiac being here it says a lot for the conference?
ANTOINE LAGANIERE: Yeah, obviously it says a lot for the conference. As for your earlier question, I don't think we did anything different. I think we kind of had a bad game, but it happens. Like you said, there are a lot of ebbs and flows in the season. That was just the low, low, low, and we bounced back early in the season, and we did it again.
THE MODERATOR: Gus, anything to add to that to close us out?
GUS YOUNG: Yeah, it's pretty obvious we didn't have the best two games in Atlantic City. But we knew once we found out we were in the tournament. We knew if we just returned to Yale hockey, we'd be able to beat anyone in the country. And we were fortunate enough to get back to what we do best. We'd rather do it in the Regional, and hopefully carry it on today and carry it on to Saturday.
THE MODERATOR: Yale to play in the National Championship. Best of luck you guys. We'll finish with questions for Coach Allain.
Q. Coach, could you talk about your neutral zone defense tonight and what had you to do to keep them from getting into any transition?
COACH ALLAIN: Yeah, well, we didn't change our system. I think one of the things that we did best to keep them from getting in transition was we were very patient and disciplined offensively with the puck. I think where they get teams into trouble is when they try to do something they shouldn't do and they pick it off and they're off to the races because they have such great quickness. We were disciplined offensively, and that's what made it difficult for them to transition against us.
Q. Can you pick up on Andrew's comments that it's been a long time since an ECAC team has gone to the final; a very, very long time since two teams have gone. Can you talk about this being a defining moment for Yale in the ECAC?
COACH ALLAIN: I think we have a terrific league. Maybe we don't get the publicity we deserve. But we have great players in our league. We have great universities in our league, and we have darn good coaches. I think that I also understand that our league hasn't had much success in this tournament. And until you earn it, you don't deserve it, so maybe things will change after this weekend.
Q. You took a timeout with three minutes to go. It was an icing call. You were looking at a faceoff with some tired legs out there, and it kind of felt like that was a moment when Lowell might have had a chance. You guys came out and looked a lot better. Can you talk about the decision and what you talked about on the bench when you were trying to regroup there?
COACH ALLAIN: That's exactly what it was. With that new change in the icing rule, you can't get your guys off. Our guys had an extended shift. It was late in the game. I didn't think we needed the timeout for anything else. We just took it, rested our guys and were able to make a line change because of it. They did the same thing earlier in the period.
Q. The players sort of touched on it, but you're getting so many shots on them, but you're still tied 22. Did you ever get frustrated and worry that maybe it just wasn't the night?
COACH ALLAIN: Yeah, I've been with teams that have outplayed other teams and for one reason or another don't get the bounce. But I also believe that was the right approach for us, and if we stuck with the plan, the odds would favor our team breaking through, and that's what happened. Until you get the goal, you're always wondering when it's going to come, for sure.
Q. Despite the fact that you did need overtime, is this as complete an effort as you could have asked for your team on this stage? And secondly, I realize Jesse isn't here to answer this question himself, but what does it mean for you to see a guy with strong Pittsburgh ties get to celebrate a big win in his hometown?
COACH ALLAIN: The first part of the question, yeah, it was as good an effort as we've had. And our last three games have been all great efforts. I thought that we were as much as we created offensively, I thought we were rock solid defensively. A lot of our offense was because of the fact that we defended so well that we had the puck and they didn't.
You know, I think if we can continue to play this way, we'll be a tough opponent on Saturday night.
Regarding Jesse, we knew he was from Pittsburgh, and his mom talked all year long about us getting here. But to see the way that the city has embraced Jesse and he's enjoyed being back here. It really is heartwarming.
Q. Did you start him on purpose? To get the crowd going?
COACH ALLAIN: We started him on purpose because he's our top line.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
Q. Is it sort of fitting and Andrew talked about it being a team goal getting that last one, but is it sort of fitting the importance that he's had to this program during his career to be the guy that sort of comes through in that moment? Is it sort of like a circle of life kind of thing?
COACH ALLAIN: Yeah, to me, up until right now before we play Saturday night, that's probably the biggest goal in the history of Yale hockey. Andrew has been a great player for us all four years, but he's made a remarkable transformation into a leadership role this year.
Assuming the captain's seat and the way he's done it by including the entire senior class, he does just a great job with our group, not just on the ice, but he monitored them off the ice. He makes sure they're going to class and doing the right thing all the time and they're prepared to play. I can tell you, I couldn't ask for a better captain.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations, thank you very much.
COACH ALLAIN: Thank you.
Yale's Press Conference Transcripts
Yale 3, UMass Lowell 2