home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


April 10, 2019

Scott Sandelin

Parker Mackay

Nick Wolff

Billy Exell

Buffalo, New York

THE MODERATOR: Minnesota-Duluth is here in the house, defending national champions.

We'll ask Coach Sandelin for some opening thoughts.

SCOTT SANDELIN: Again, pretty exciting time for our program to be back in the Frozen Four. Certainly happy for our players. Certainly wasn't easy to get here, it never is. To have an opportunity to play right now in tomorrow's game in this time of the year is certainly special for our program.

Three guys next to me have done a great job with leadership of our group this year. As a coach, we've been blessed with great leaders, guys that have shown the way, led by example. These three guys here, led by our captain Parker, have done a great job. We're excited to play tomorrow against a very good team. We'll see what happens.

THE MODERATOR: Questions first for the players.

Q. Parker, what has it been like to play with Riley Tufte? What does his size, his ability bring to your team?
PARKER MACKAY: Tufts has been good. He's come into his own later in the season. He's starting to use that big body to his advantage. He's been using his speed, taking pucks to the net, playing defensively for us as of late. Good to see. We're going to need him here moving forward.

Q. For any of the three, adversity stinks when you're going through it, but how much has that helped going to this point?
NICK WOLFF: Obviously every year you go through some up and downs. This year kind of made us stick together a little bit more, gave us confidence that we can go through those tough times but also learn a lot from it. Obviously that's helped us through the tough stretches, through the playoff stretch, got us to where we are now.

BILLY EXELL: Yeah, I mean, if you look at our schedule, we had a pretty tough schedule every game, playing against a good team. When we're going through stretches where things aren't going our way, battling back against these good teams, we know no matter who we're playing against, even the last four teams, we know what we can do and what we can bring.

Q. Nick, you were a leader of a very young defensive corps last year. You have a year under your belt. What differences, if any, from this season to last season?
NICK WOLFF: I guess we're used to having a lot of confidence in each other. We know our roles, how we all play 'em. I mean, I wouldn't consider myself a leader. We're all just as experienced, we can all play each other's role. We all build off each other. That gains a lot of trust between each other. That's kind of how we play. It shows on the ice.

Q. Parker, I see you have 14 guys with Frozen Four experience. How much do you think you guys who have been here before and have won can draw upon that experience at this level?
PARKER MACKAY: I think we definitely know what to expect. Obviously the other three teams here are very experienced as well. They're all very good hockey teams. We respect them a lot. We know how hard it's going to be.

We just got to focus on Thursday night. We can't look by that at any point here. We're just focused on tomorrow afternoon, late afternoon. We're excited for it. But yeah, I think experience draws a huge factor into that.

Q. Nick, how important is it that you guys are coming into this tournament with so much experience over some of the other teams?
NICK WOLFF: It helps a lot. Obviously we've been here the last couple years, so we know what to expect. At the same time, like Parker said, there are three other good teams. That's why we're all here.

It does help, but same time it's taking each game one at a time, going from there.

THE MODERATOR: Guys, thanks a lot. We'll continue with questions for Coach Sandelin.

Q. We talked about the D corps. Seems like there's a lot of balance. How have your players developed into those roles they play? How long did it take and how have those roles evolved from last year to this year?
SCOTT SANDELIN: I think last year obviously there was some experimentation. We know Scottie obviously is a real good offensive player, he's going to run a power play. I think Mikey and Dylan kind of developed into a real good pair that we could put out on the power play, kill penalties. It just kind of evolved into that. We tried some different things.

I mean, I remember telling Wolffy, If you want to play with Scottie, then you need to play a certain way. For him, I said, Just give him the puck, he might end up with 20, 25 assist, your job is easy.

They really developed a trust. I think they said that, within each other. They played a lot of games. We knew last year, too, we were going to play those guys. We didn't have much of a choice. We tried some different things. We kind of knew going in kind of what roles each guy may take on.

But those guys have really developed in those situations. From a coaching staff to that group, there's just a lot of trust based on what we've seen over not just last year but even this year, too. I think they've grown as a group collectively. That's certainly been a backbone of our team going into this year, I thought a big part of our group last year, too. It's kind of just been a good transition into this year.

Q. This is your fifth straight NCAA tournament. You've been good enough to win two titles. Winning back-to-back, not been done since Denver in 2004, 2005. What do you see that has made it so difficult for teams to win back-to-back titles?
SCOTT SANDELIN: The parity has certainly become very evident, I think. The thing right now is there's not a staff out there that doesn't work hard, whether it's recruiting. We have a lot of tremendous coaches throughout college hockey, like I said, real hard-working assistant coaches. Recruiting, we evened out a little bit, too. You see some of the other teams, some teams are going to lose more players early. Everybody builds their team differently. I think some teams are older, some are younger, some have a good mix.

But I think there's so many hard-working staffs. Nobody is lazy any more. You can't be in this game. I just think we got a lot of good coaches. Like I said, you recruit to your needs, you recruit to the style you want to play. Everybody has their niche. I think a lot of guys are just sticking with that. You're seeing a lot more teams continue to get better and develop. Even the teams that aren't here, everyone talks about, they'll be back. They're good programs. They always have been. You're going to have cycles.

But I just think there's so much parity, so many good coaches, it's really put college hockey in a really good spot.

Q. I asked about Tufte earlier. His offensive numbers haven't been eye-popping, but what stands out is his size. It's his 21st birthday today. Are you going to allow him to have a beer?
SCOTT SANDELIN: If we win on Saturday, I will (smiling).

Yeah, I mean, number one, he's a tremendous kid. He's matured a lot since he's been in our program. There's been ups and downs like every player. I think for him, it's like a lot of players, it's that confidence. I think trying to instill in him preparing the right way during the week for every game, trying to get -- I think the biggest thing that he's learned is I think trying to develop consistency to his game, how he needs to play, just realizing what kind of player he is.

Sometimes you get a lot of players, I don't care if they're forwards or D, some think they're super high-end offensive defensemen, they get here they're middle of the road. It takes time for sometimes guys to understand that.

I think the quicker guys do, just stick to kind of what they are, instead of trying to be what everybody else thinks they should be, I think he's learned that. I don't always look at numbers. I look at the body of work. Certainly there has been some really, really good moments for him, then there's been some learning curves, like everybody else. He's still learning.

He's really played well here for the last month, month and a half. I remember having a discussion with him about a month ago. I said, I don't care what you've done up until now, because we need you coming down the stretch. He stepped up his game. When players do that, that's the exciting part for a coach. They get it. Hopefully he can continue to do that here tomorrow and hopefully if we're playing Saturday.

Q. I don't know how much you've seen of Providence per se. What has jumped off the table to you, in particular during the regional with their power play?
SCOTT SANDELIN: Fast-starting team, very aggressive. I think I go back to the game we had with them a few years ago. I thought it was an unbelievable hockey game. I think it was in Worcester when it was double overtime. I thought it was great pace, just hard ice all over. We were fortunate to win that game.

You mentioned the power play. It was outstanding against Mankato and Cornell. They were probably riding with a lot of confidence. The team that defends hard, gets pucks to the net, these games are going to be won at both nets. Coaches probably say that. But they get hard to the net.

We have to find a way to get to theirs. Both teams have to solve pretty good goalies, too. I just think it's going to be another close, hard-fought, not a lot of room, physical, maybe a bounce here or there. I'm expecting a very, very hard, heavy game.

Q. The adversity that you've gone through this year, the 5-5 stretch, how do you feel that made your team stronger?
SCOTT SANDELIN: Well, I think you got to go through some of that all year. There's going to be different stretches. For our team, there was a lot of lessons along the way, whether it was that stretch. There was a lot of Fridays where we turned Saturday into not a good game. There were games where we lost Friday, came back and responded.

The one thing that group has done is they've responded. I think when their backs have been against the wall, they've usually responded in the right way. Like the last weekend of the year against St. Cloud, even though we lost two games, we turned that into more of a positive, we felt we became a better hockey team. Right now that's the last lesson our guys have learned. They've responded pretty well up until this point.

I think it makes you a better team. You're going to go through that. I think sometimes everybody wants it to be real easy. This has not been an easy year to get back here. I give our guys a lot of credit because there's been a lot of challenges. Certainly that is part of it with some of the adversity you're talking about. I think it made our team better, for sure. I think we've learned along the way.

Q. Justin Richards, obviously his father has been coaching for a while, do you notice anything in his game that shows he's the son of a coach? How can you tell?
SCOTT SANDELIN: Just the way he goes about every day. I think he trains the right way. He studies the game. He has a purpose every day when it comes to the rink. He's a very focused young man. He wants to get better.

Absolutely you can tell he's been around the game, his dad has been in the game and coached. He doesn't need to be told twice a lot. He's had a really, really good year for us. But there's no question you can tell he's got those bloodlines.

Q. This is your third year back to the Frozen Four. In the last three years, you've had a lot of overtime games to get here, one-goal games. You have your team playing hard in every shift. By playing hard every shift, does that make it a lot easier for you or is there a lot of luck involved?
SCOTT SANDELIN: I think there's always luck involved. You get into one-game shots, you know what, there's a lot of good teams that don't win those games because of a bounce or break or what.

We've been very fortunate to play in a lot of those games. When you have success in some of those games, obviously it gives your group a little bit of confidence. We're accustom to playing in lower-score-type games for two years. We maybe don't have a super high-powered offense. Can we score? Yes. Maybe it's a mentality we've developed by being in a lot of those games, whether it's NCAA tournament or regular season. Our guys have just kind of settled into that.

When you play different teams, sometimes you do have to make some adjustments. You know what, we ask our guys to play a certain way. For the most part our guys have been pretty successful at going out and doing that. Hopefully that continues.

Q. Karson Kuhlman found some success with the Bruins here. What do you see as his biggest strengths in college and as a captain? What did he mean to the team?
SCOTT SANDELIN: He meant a lot. He was one of the best captains I've ever had. His leadership, his discipline, his work habits, all those things that he brought to the rink every day. I thought his relationships and how he handled our team.

But he was a lead-by-example guy. What he meant to us is we won a national championship because of him last year. He scored a big goal in the semifinal game in the regional, put the team on his back by what he does on the rink. You see it the way he plays now. He doesn't take shifts off. He carried our team with the leadership and example on the ice.

I think obviously Parker was an assistant captain there, has learned some things to, just like you do from all good leaders. He was a special captain for us. Couldn't be more excited to see him getting the opportunity he's getting and doing well. Hopefully he can continue to stay there and help that team.

Q. What do you think could allow him to be successful in the playoffs without much experience?
SCOTT SANDELIN: Kind of like our young guys last year. They're naïve, they're going and playing hockey. They have a good room there, right? When a player feels comfortable right away, there's enough pressure on those guys.

He just goes out and does what he does on a daily basis. He's going to work hard every shift. As a coach, you know the consistency that he's going to bring. He's getting some offensive points and different things. When those things start happening, they get confidence.

I think in even talking to him, the guys in the room have made him feel comfortable, taken some of that pressure away, allowed him to go play his game. As a coach, you know they're going to maybe make some mistakes. Give the coaching staff credit for allowing him to go out there, get his feet wet, continue to move forward.

He's going to give you the same thing every day. As a coach, that's what we look for and that's what develops a trust not only in your coaches but your teammates.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297