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May 24, 2015

Wesley Berg

Connor Cannizzaro

Ryan LaPlante

Bill Tierney


THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by head coach Bill Tierney, Wesley Berg, Ryan LaPlante and Connor Cannazzaro.  Coach, if you could give an opening statement.
COACH TIERNEY:  We obviously feel really good about being here.  When people think about how tired you might be or the emotion and all that stuff, I always tell the guys and my coaches, the alternative is a heck of a lot worse.
We're thrilled.  Congratulations to Maryland for their great win and looking forward to trying to battle for a national championship tomorrow afternoon.

Q.  Connor, what are your emotions going to be playing against Maryland?
CONNOR CANNIZZARO:  I think it's going to be like any other game.  Just focus on trying to play my best that I can play and help out the team any way I can.  I don't really have any emotions or anything to prove playing my old team.  I just want to go out there and win.

Q.  How rewarding has the transition or has the decision been to go to Denver?
CONNOR CANNIZZARO:  This whole year has been amazing.  I love it out in Denver.  And I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Q.  Wesley, talk about your decision to go to Denver and kind of making a leap of faith because Denver was a new program at the time you made the decision?
WESLEY BERG:  Yes, the first time they got to the Final Four I had already committed, I think the year when I was in grade 12.  So going there next year was when they made the Final Four for the first time.
But being a Canadian kid you don't see or hear too much about those kind of statistics.  I hadn't really looked too much into it.  You see really only the Final Four on TV in Canada.  So you see teams like Johns Hopkins and Syracuse that are in it.  But I didn't pick a school because I thought they would give me a chance to make it here, I picked it on a lot of other decisions about the people, the coaches, the actual school and I knew it was a strong program.
And I definitely thought that we could be here.  So it wasn't really a leap of faith, like you asked.

Q.  Connor, do you still keep in touch with your old Maryland teammates and what do you think it will be like tomorrow in the game?
CONNOR CANNIZZARO:  I've kept in touch with a couple of them throughout the year, but going into this week, I think right before the banquet, we said we were not friends anymore this week.
So I think that really settled it.  It's just all business from here on out.

Q.  (Question off mic)?
COACH TIERNEY:  I was in a place for 22 years that was a fabulous play for me ‑‑ kids growing up there, all the championships and all the great things that happened.  But before I spent 22 years at Princeton I had never been on any job more than three years.  So I kind of thought of myself even in the soccer coaching at Hopkins, I kind of thought of myself as a program remaker, so to speak.  And this was such a great opportunity.  Trevor had moved out there in 2001 and just from a selfish standpoint I felt like could have stayed at Princeton forever and it would have been wonderful.  Just felt like it needed that one more spark, and Peg, you know, Bradley‑Doppes, our AD, offered me that opportunity.  And I just thought it was just an amazing place that really wanted to be‑‑ they wanted your sport to be the best.
Obviously we've got a great hockey program.  But you didn't have 38 sports, other sports, to contend with.  And it was just re‑exciting for me to see if we could build this thing from the ground up.  And the support and the people and the school itself have just been phenomenal ever since.  And to be able to track guys like this, I give Matt Brown a lot of credit, a lot of our key players, the Canadian kids.
Ryan was recruited basically by my son, Trevor, who he's been working with since he was young.  And Connor came in an alternate way, as did Jack Bobzien.  So we just move on.  We try our best to make it very special and I think we've done that.

Q.  There's been a lot of talk about Maryland not having won a title for 40 years.  Is there any sense of urgency in Denver trying to get their first title?
CONNOR CANNIZZARO:  I don't think we really think about the first time, I think we want to win the title.  We want to win it for our school, for our program and for all the players on our team, especially the seniors.  We have such a great senior class this year, and they're really the leaders of this team and we go as they go.
We really want to get it done this year.  And we're excited for the opportunity on Monday.
WESLEY BERG:  For me and Ryan, it's our last chance at it.  There's definitely that sense of urgency, and Denver is going to be so good for the next couple of years and probably for the next couple of decades.  But you never know if you're having a strong team.  There's injuries, there's bad luck, there's bad bounce or something and all of a sudden it's one game and you're out.
So this is, we're really excited to be here.  But this is definitely a sense of urgency for us to win it this year.
RYAN LAPLANTE:  Yeah, just thinking of it as another game.  Not very much the urgency, just winning a national championship, that's the ultimate goal.

Q.  (Question off mic).
COACH TIERNEY:  I think the most important thing that Connor did and that went hand‑in‑hand with Wesley, is Connor came into a system.  It's very different than what he had done in the past.  He was always a great player, but Connor had to accept a role in a system that ‑‑ it came out that he had a lot of the points and I think he'd be the first one to tell you he wouldn't have all those points if it wasn't for the system and his teammates.  And of course with Wes being our high scorer last year, him as a senior captain and kind of leader of our team, welcoming Connor in with open arms.  Wes just wants to win.
And so it's been a seamless transition.  Certainly the story of playing with his older brother has been great for Connor.  He's been a great addition to our team point‑wise, of course.  But if you look at Zach Miller and you look at Tyler Pace, we lost Jeremy Noble from our offense and Tyler and Zach more assists this year more assists than goals so everybody's melded into a little bit of a different role.  Sean moves to attack a few games ago.  Jack Bobzien does a great job yesterday at midfield.  We're not about an individual.
But if you're a good team an individual is going to end up with the points.  Just like an individual is going to end up with the winning goal in overtime.  It's just the way it is.
But not one of these guys has ever, ever looked at each other and said I'm better than you I need more points than you.  It's just not what we're about.

Q.  (Question off mic).
RYAN LAPLANTE:  Honestly, I don't know.  Sticking to what we know is going to be the most important thing, playing our system that we've played all year, and since the beginning of September that's kind of been our focus over the playoffs and in the season just sticking to what we know and sticking to our rules, and if you break the rules, the defense breaks down.  If you stick to the rules we do the right thing and get the ball up and out.
So I think just focusing on that tomorrow is the most important thing for our defense.

Q.  Connor, were you watching the second game yesterday and were you pulling for Maryland in the second game?
CONNOR CANNIZZARO:  Yeah, I definitely have friends on Maryland and would like to see them succeed.  But at the same time, I want to win this thing and I wasn't really thinking at the time who I wanted to play more.
I was just waiting to see the outcome and then I was going to get ready to prepare for the next game and move on and started working towards Monday.

Q.  (Question off mic).
CONNOR CANNIZZARO:  No, not really.  Just anyone.  It doesn't matter who.

Q.  (Question off mic).
COACH TIERNEY:  Everyone is different, our offense is different to prepare for.  Their defense is different to prepare for.  Very different defense than what we saw yesterday.
And honestly the two best defenses in the country in Notre Dame and Maryland.  So we know what we're up against.  We've got a First‑Team All‑American goalie for the first time in a long time.  We'll see a guy really try to faceoff against Trevor instead of grab and hold and pull him down and all that other stuff that's been going on.
So we're excited about that.  Now, we're not excited about the possible outcome with Charlie Raffa, but it's going to be a lacrosse game tomorrow.  It's not going to be a push and pull and tackle and all that other stuff.
We know what we're up against.  They're a great team.  They wouldn't be here if they didn't play great defense.  And now all of a sudden, the last few weeks, things are happening at the offensive end.  So this isn't going to be that slow‑down 6‑5 game that somebody might have predicted a month ago.  It's going to be a lot of stuff happening.

Q.  (Question off mic).
COACH TIERNEY:  Had Charlie been healthy all year, I venture to say that he and Trevor would have, and the kid from Syracuse, would have been a three‑way battle.  Would have been cool to see the three of them come out and go head to head with each other.  But Raffa has been a little bit banged up and now he's healthy.  So we're talking about an 18‑year‑old freshman who he sometimes is afraid of his own shadow and he's going out against the best of the best, a guy who has brought them there.
But it's an intriguing matchup.  You know the face‑off guys, they've got all sorts of things going on.  Their moves, the counter to their moves, the wing play, the no‑wing play and all those things.
So that's going to come into play.  It's the battle within the battle.  And it's going to be an exciting game starting right with that.

Q.  (Question off mic).
COACH TIERNEY:  Absolutely not.  They're the Maryland defense.  It's I'm bigger, I'm stronger, I'm tougher than you are; go ahead and try and beat me.  That's what they're all about.  We don't see many of those.  It's going to be an interesting day.

Q.  (Question off mic).
COACH TIERNEY:  How they communicate?  I don't know.  I was sitting up in the press box about 100 yards away.  I have no idea how they communicate.  All I know is they're really good.  They're really good at stopping the individual.  So therefore, unlike us or unlike Notre Dame, where it's such a help system, they're going to try and stop our guys individually.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

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