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April 7, 2017

Jim Montgomery

Colin Staub

Emil Romig

Evan Ritt

Chicago, Illinois

MODERATOR: We'll get started with the Denver student-athletes. We're joined by Evan Ritt, Emil Romig, and Colin Staub.

Q. For any of you guys, for someone like me who has never watched Denver and Minnesota-Duluth play, can you describe what the rivalry is like between you guys? Is it civil? Is it played with more of an edge? Like what is the rivalry like from a player standpoint?
EMIL ROMIG: We play in the same conference, we've met numerous times over the couple of years. It's always been a tough matchup. They're big, they're strong. They skate well, and it's always been tough. So I think it's going to be a great game.

Q. Is it a civil rivalry? Do you have a lot of respect for each other, a little bit more physical? What's it like?
EMIL ROMIG: It's always physical against those guys, but obviously we really respect each other. This year we've been, you know, switching off in the No. 1 and No. 2 spot basically all year long. So basically there's a lot of respect. But we're all here to, you know, come out on top. So in that respect, in that perspective, I guess not that much respect.

Q. For the two seniors, or even Colin, since you're 23 (laughter) you guys have this lineup now that's been going on for the last three games where the top six so-called forwards are all freshmen or sophomores. I know that you guys roll lines and stuff. But it had to have been nice last night to get two goals from senior forwards, the so-called, you know, third and fourth lines?
EVAN RITT: Yes, it feels good to get some contribution from our lines, but I think that the best part about our team is the depth that we have and the four lines that we can roll. So I think that us as a fourth line, we really ate them up at the forecheck and we were able to get two goals, and it was really good for the team.

COLIN STAUB: It's nice that we have four lines and Coach has the confidence to put out all four lines and our line just wants to go out there and contribute in whatever way we can. And last night we were fortunate enough to be able to get two goals, and it really helped our team get started with Romig's first goal of the game, and that's just what we want to provide.

Q. You guys have spoken about the business plan and the goals that were set this season. And last night Notre Dame's head coach said that he thought that you guys looked like a team on a mission. Is that an accurate assessment of the attitude you're bringing to the ice? And talk about maybe how that has affected your opponents through the tournament.
EMIL ROMIG: Well, you know, we've been here last year, and obviously we lost in the semifinal. And it was pretty crushing for a lot of us. And so with you speaking to being on a mission, I mean, we've been working to get back here all year long. Ever since we lost, we wanted to do whatever we can to get back here, and we've worked really hard to accomplish that. And being back here definitely feels great. But, I mean, you know, we've got to finish it off.

Q. You played a really competitive series with Duluth back in December, split two games at Magnus. For all intents and purposes, both were one-goal games. How do you feel your team has changed and evolved from that series, and what lessons can you still take from that series for tomorrow night?
EVAN RITT: I think we're confident coming from what we gained from that series, but we've grown a lot from where we were in December. So now we're a team we can roll four lines. And we're getting a lot more offensive production. And we're shutting teams down defensively. So we feel good, but it's a one-game playoff. So anything can happen. So we've got to be focused and ready.

Q. Colin, you originally committed to the Air Force Academy. So for you, what does it mean now to be playing in the national championship game?
COLIN STAUB: It means everything to me. Back before I was committed to Denver, in that period between when I kind of had to decommit from Air Force before I committed to Denver, I would never have imagined I would be playing in the national championship game two years later. And it means the world to be here and to be part of this team right now.

Q. For any of you guys, much has been made about your loss last year in the Frozen Four, how that affected you guys. How much did that loss to North Dakota in the Faceoff, did that also wake you guys up? What role did that loss kind of play in this tournament run?
EMIL ROMIG: I mean, that's a good question. I think going into that game we were on a great win streak, and I think all of us kind of were on cloud nine and we thought we were invincible and we kind of got away from knowing what it takes to win, especially against great teams like North Dakota. And it was definitely a wake-up call. Silver lining here, it came at the right time and gave us a chance to regroup and focus on the details of our game.

Q. Evan, if Minnesota-Duluth comes out and plays the style like they did last night against Harvard where they kind of gummed up the neutral zone and try to take away the speed, how do you guys react when a team tries to take away the speed?
EVAN RITT: Our team, we focus on ourselves and our process. And I think if we go into it and we know this is our game to win and we stick to our process, it will be successful.

Q. That series you guys had with Duluth at home back in December, from a spectator standpoint it was a fun one to watch. What was it like for the players? Was that a fun series for you guys as well? Because we didn't see Duluth mucking it up, it was a wide-open, back-and-forth game.
COLIN STAUB: That weekend was a lot of fun as a player. It was back-and-forth hockey. It was a lot of speed. It was pretty physical, and like it was the time Duluth was the No. 1 team in the country and it was 1 versus 2 that weekend and there was a lot of hype going into it and it was a lot of fun for players.

And the split kind of kind of made it a little even more of a rivalry coming into this game now. And we were really excited to be able to see who comes out on top.

Q. You guys have been dominating teams all throughout the second half. How have you guys been avoiding or how have you avoided getting too high, and how will you be able to keep yourself from getting too high tomorrow?
EVAN RITT: I think that it comes down to Coach Monty and his leadership. We get a lot of -- I mean he's been through it all. And he always has a pulse for the team and knows what's best. And we have a good group of senior leaders, and we have just been focusing on ourselves the whole time.

Q. If Jim uses the same strategy he did last night, you guys will probably be on the ice against the Iafallo line. How do you slow down that line? That's their top line and their best scorers.
EVAN RITT: I think that our line is a -- our role as a line is just to make simple plays, get pucks out, and I think all of us understand our role of just playing simple and making sure that we're great defensively, making sure that our forecheck is relentless, and I think that really ate them up last night. So that's all we'll be focusing on tomorrow night.

Q. Emil, how does it feel to be the only Australian -- or Austrian? (Laughter) the only Austrian in the Frozen Four, I think in the whole tournament?
EMIL ROMIG: Thanks, Mike. Well, I mean, I don't really know what to say. I've been here for six years. Basically feel like I'm American now, besides my accent. But all jokes aside, obviously it's humbling. It's a humbling experience. But I don't really look at it as like I'm an Austrian, I'm playing here. It's more my own story and getting here and enjoying this moment with my teammates.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. If you had your druthers in terms of the type of style of game that would be played tomorrow night, would you rather it be the high-flying game that Colin was talking about the last time you played or a game that's a more defensive posture?
COACH MONTGOMERY: I think both teams have really grown since our last encounter I think in December 5th and 6th. I think both teams have gotten significantly better and both teams can win in different ways. So I'm not sure, because both teams have changed, about what would be better for who.

Q. The Iafallo and Toninato line, those two specifically, as a coach, what's the bigger challenge when you're game planning against that, what they can do offensively or how they can also at times match up and shut down top lines with their play defensively?
COACH MONTGOMERY: They're a great college line. And I think maybe the best line in the country. And I think you've just got to know when they're out there and match their intensity.

Their intensity, I think, fuels that team. And I think the third player that fuels that team with intensity is Pionk on the back end.

Q. Talk about having Borgström against the Bulldogs. Obviously in December he wasn't available. But he's a game-changer. And obviously he's a different element now.
COACH MONTGOMERY: Yeah, I mean, anytime you can inject one of the most talented offensive players in college hockey into a lineup that the team hasn't seen, you can watch film on them. But when you get on the ice, it's a different world, especially for goaltenders.

The first time they can see him shoot a puck, they can look at it on film, but the puck gets on you real quick. If you're not used to it, it's by you.

And the first time he's let it go on most of the goaltenders, I'm talking great goaltenders in the NCAC, like Cam Johnson, and the freshman at Western that had a great year too. He puts it by them and they're not used to it, has an NHL release, and hides his release. Kind of like Luis Tiant on the mound, puts it behind his hip, and he all of a sudden whips it at you.

Q. Did not having Borgström against UMD back in December, did that change how you guys game planned or anything against them?
COACH MONTGOMERY: No, it doesn't change the way we play. I think we just -- we had to hope that Terry/Gambrell and Lukosevicius line produced. They did in Game 1 and didn't in Game 2 and UMD won Game 2 and we won Game 1.

Q. I asked Evan about how you avoid getting too high on yourself after dominating teams. What's going to go into that for tomorrow night for you?
COACH MONTGOMERY: I'll snap them into shape here mentally during our practice and at the end of our practice. I mean, it's nice you've got to let players enjoy it, but you gotta make sure you get back grounded because we know this is going to be the toughest game of the year.

I know how good -- we all know how good and talented Duluth is. They're a mentally tough team. They're hard in all three zones. They don't give you an inch. And we know that. You're going to have to go out and earn it. That's why I think it's going to be a great game tomorrow night.

Q. You started talking about this, but for someone like me that's never seen you guys play against each other how would you describe the rivalry between the two teams are the games civil, play with an edge, how would you describe how...
COACH MONTGOMERY: Fiercely respectful.

Q. Seems like two years in a row you've been able to turn the team over to themselves a little bit and have the upperclassmen lead. How have you developed that culture, and how are you able to get upperclassmen who are willing to take over, is it more on them or is it something you're developing?
COACH MONTGOMERY: I think it's a combination. I think that, one, we've developed a culture where no one's afraid to admit they made a mistake. And I know there's a lot of games where I've had the wrong game plan.

And I've admitted it. And there's been times where I've tried something in practice and I'm thinking it's not working and the players come to me and they think we don't think that's going to work, Coach.

Good, I didn't either. So it's just -- I think it's the communication. And it's a lot of trust that we gotta do what's right for the team.

Q. In the postseason you've really been able to get up on teams in the first period. You indicated you weren't sure that would happen tomorrow night against Duluth. So how do you try and set the pace that you've been able to dominate with in the first period over the last three or four games?
COACH MONTGOMERY: We go out and play our style and hopefully we can gain momentum and roll our lines over like we did yesterday in the first period.

Yesterday's first period, that was to me I was behind the bench and I didn't have to worry about any of it. I just -- they were just rolling the four lines and they were playing at an incredible rate.

Q. You talked a little bit about how before the Michigan Tech game you couldn't sleep. You came up with the lines. Could you go over the thought process, how you came up with those four lines? Because they've been great these past three games.
COACH MONTGOMERY: I can't take a lot of credit for that. That question's come up a lot. People don't know, but Henrik Borgström had food poisoning the night before. So I didn't think he could match up against Michigan Tech's top line.

I'm thinking I gotta drop him. That's why I said yesterday, like, his line is going to be the fourth line. But I wanted him to be able to play with people who could make plays.

I put him with McLellan and Finlay, and that allowed us to put Janssen and O'Connor with our best faceoff guy, Marcinew, who are our two best forwards, and that gave us the balance. And we put the sophomore line together. And Terry and Gambrell can play together all year. It's very simple for them.

Q. I know yesterday you emphasized getting out to a fast start, being aggressive early especially in the first period that we talked about. Now that you've had a chance to reflect back on that game, what will you emphasize for this next game coming up?
COACH MONTGOMERY: You know, our points of emphasis change a little bit. But winning one-on-one battles is probably a mainstay for points of emphasis going into a game.

But from there, the other two points is -- I always have three -- is it varies on who we're playing. With Penn State, it was making sure that we didn't give up odd-man rushes so we could counterattack on them.

Against Duluth, it's going to be, I don't know what it's going to be because I haven't watched enough film yet.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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