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March 20, 2015

Tanner Fritz

Matt Johnson

Steve Rohlik



THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Ohio State Coach Rohlik, Matt Johnson, and Tanner Fritz.  Coach Rohlik will make an opening statement, and we'll have a couple of questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH ROHLIK:  Well, obviously I can't ask for much more out of our team today.  They only gave me everything they've got.  22 shots in the third period, you know, this team is relentless.  Like I say, I'm proud of this team.  We had a good run here toward the end, and I'm even prouder of our eight seniors.  What they've done for our program and they've sent this program in the right direction.
So, obviously, I thank them.  The bounces, it is what it is.  Minnesota did the job and got the job done tonight.  But, again, I'm awfully proud of our team.

Q.  What did you do tonight to keep the game close against a really potentially explosive offense?
TANNER FRITZ:  I think we tried to eliminate their D and play in there as much as we could.  I think we did pretty good for three periods.  It's just we didn't get the bounces.  It just wasn't enough.
MATT JOHNSON:  I've got to agree with Tanner.  We stuck to the game plan, I think, for the most part and tried to eliminate the blue line and keep pucks in their end.  I think we did that a lot.  But like Tanner said, we just didn't get the right bounces tonight.

Q.  You see a lot of chances.  Wilcox had to make 39 saves.  What's it like going up against a goalie like that who is making stops and making stops?  Do you have to keep going at it to see what happens?  At the end of the day, what is your mindset when you're facing a guy that's playing that well?
MATT JOHNSON:  Well, the more shots, likely everyone's going to bounce in and try to keep it going after that.  I don't know.  Just try to get more quality shots and try to get rebounds and make plays off of that.
TANNER FRITZ:  Yeah, you've got to tip your cap to him.  He played well.  A bounce here or a score early and we could probably try to get in his head a little bit, but that's the way things go.  Unfortunately, we came up with a loss.

Q.  Guys, with the success down the stretch and your success in this tournament last year, how high was your confidence level today that you guys could play with a team like that?
MATT JOHNSON:  Our team felt really good going into this weekend.  You look at our last ten games and I thought we were taking strides in the right direction and the way we wanted to play.  We really found our identity and started to roll with it.  Going off of last year we were very confident, just like this year we beat every team in the conference.  There was nobody we didn't think we could beat.
TANNER FRITZ:  Just whatever Matt said there.  We were flying high going into the tournament.  We knew we could beat anyone in this league, so we had a lot of confidence and we played well yesterday, played well today.  Just like I said before, unfortunately it didn't go our way.

Q.  Tanner, it's been a heck of a ride for you.  You reflect on where you came from and where you are now?  It's a lot more than about hockey, isn't it?
TANNER FRITZ:  Yeah, definitely.  But it's not about me.  It's about the people I've been around and the people I've been fortunate enough to work with and just the brand, the Ohio State family, the culture it is, the bond you have with all those people, my family, all the support I've had.  It's just I give the credit to those people for helping me along the way and supporting me along the way.  Without them, none of this could have happened.  Kind of sucks it's all over now though.

Q.  You've been through a lot of change in this program overtime here.  Where do you see the future of this program going?
MATT JOHNSON:  I see the program going, obviously, in the right direction.  I mean, we do everything right here.  We do it the right way.  We have the great staff.  To me, you just can't get a better program than where we're at here.  I just see nothing but great things coming out of this program.
TANNER FRITZ:  Yeah, the foundation has been built from past years before we were here.  It keeps getting better and better.  The culture here keeps getting better and better, the staff is great.  We're always pushing to get better, and I know they're going to do that in the following years.  The only way to go is up from here.

Q.  Tanner and Matt, could you sense the desperation for Minnesota?  Every team had to win here to get to the NCAA tournament.  But did you sense anything different from them tonight?
MATT JOHNSON:  A little bit.  Both teams were playing desperate, but I didn't focus too much on what they were doing.  I was more concerned about how we needed to play.  We wanted to determine the game on how we play and control the game.  So, yeah, they were desperate, but so were we.

Q.  You mentioned the seniors already in your opening statement, but so many things tonight from Chad laying down the line blocking shots and the way those guys played.  What do you think the legacy and the foundation that they've set as they go forward?
COACH ROHLIK:  It's really an incredible group.  Two of the guys are playing with one shoulder and blocking shots.  It's just they're the ones that have been a big part of where this culture is and where it's going on and off the ice.  So their leadership pulled us along.  Over the last couple months they're a big part of why we had a chance to come here and have some success.

Q.  Obviously Oddo was one of the ones banged up.  Who else was playing through something?
COACH ROHLIK:  Pretty much everybody is playing through something at this time.  But your captain right here, Tanner, I mean everybody, everybody is dinged up at this time.  Every team is dinged up.  I'm just proud of our guys giving everything they've got.

Q.  The emergence of Christian, especially down the stretch as maybe your number one goalie, does that look something positive towards the future for you?
COACH ROHLIK:  Well, obviously the way he's played from Christmas on, it's like I always say, a goaltender can make you look good as a coach and he's certainly done that.  But I also have to say Matt Tomkins has been fantastic here at practice and played a fantastic game last week.  I'm really excited about both those guys coming back.  I mean, that's where you want some depth and that's where a team wants to look.  It's a good spot to start next year with those two guys.

Q.  You always talk about Monday through Thursday affecting the weekend, so what does now March through September look like for this program and how is that going to affect next season?
COACH ROHLIK:  Well, I mean first and foremost I'm going to have to take some time to reflect obviously on my self because it starts with me.  I've got to be better.  Our guys will get some time off.  The guys that are coming back, certainly they've got a lot to work for, and that's going to start off ice, but our whole group, number one, is taking care of the classroom.  That will be first and foremost after we get back to make sure everybody's where they need to be academically and then obviously get a couple of weeks off and start getting in the weight room.
But again, as myself, I've got to look in the mirror and I've got to continue to get better to help this program get better.

Q.  As you mentioned that you had a lot of injuries toward the end of the year as pretty much most teams do.  What went into your decision to play Nick Oddo today?
COACH ROHLIK:  He's been there and done that.  He's one of our leaders.  Tough decision because, again, every guy deserves to get out there and play.  But I looked him in the eye and he said he's ready to go.  He's a big part of what we've done here, so he's been out the last couple of weeks, but he was ready and I thought he played well.

Q.  As you look forward to coming down the stretch and going 7‑4‑1, are you maybe starting to see kind of the program starting to get set so you can see what you're trying to implement after the goalie thing last year and the injuries.  So many things have happened to this program.  Are you starting to see it's what you're trying to implement going forward here?
COACH ROHLIK:  Well, it's what I envisioned the last month and a half is what I envisioned this team to be.  Unfortunately, some things are out of your control, like injuries like every team gets.  Goalie thing last year, maybe every team doesn't have that happen, but you're going to go through those things.  Next year there is going to be something else that comes up.  The one thing that I want is to let people know that we're going to show up every night.  We're going to come at you and play hard and our guys are going to leave it on the line.  That's our identity and that's what we try to leave here today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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