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April 12, 2019
Buffalo, New York
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the players.
Q. Jacob, you've never been part of this program when it wasn't a top-five, elite program. Is it hard for you to envision this team and this program not being really good?
JACOB PRITCHARD: Yeah, I mean, obviously I kind of hopped into the success. I'm obviously very thankful for that. No, I mean, Carv runs a great team. I knew he would have a good year here.
Q. Was it special for you to be able to immerse yourself right into this, be part of this run?
JACOB PRITCHARD: Yeah, I mean, it's awesome. We have 31 wins now. Whenever you can be part of a team that has a lot of success, it's a lot of fun.
Q. John, when did this team realize it belonged on the big stage with far more accomplished teams? When did you get that confidence?
JOHN LEONARD: I think that started at the beginning of the year. The first week we were together as a team, we kind of set that mindset that we wanted to be a national contending team this year. We had all the tools, everything we needed to get here.
Sure enough, that group of guys, it's a really special group, so...
Q. Cale, is there a sense that the difficulty of the win last night makes you more battle-tested for the championship game?
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, I mean, maybe a little bit. But at the end of the day we got to be prepared for whatever comes our way. It was a fun win going into OT. Hopefully we don't have to go through that again.
Q. What is going to be important today in terms of recovery to make sure you are as close to 100% as possible for tomorrow night?
JOHN LEONARD: I think it's just recovery and hydration, proper nutrition. Clayton and Marc are going to do everything they can, as they usually do, to prepare us, get us ready for tomorrow night. Like I said, nutrition, hydration and sleep.
THE MODERATOR: Was there a postgame meal last night?
JOHN LEONARD: Chicken, rice, pasta.
THE MODERATOR: Doesn't sound too bad.
JOHN LEONARD: Wasn't bad at all (smiling).
Q. Not been that many hours since you got off the ice. How do you flip the script? What has coach been telling you, getting past last night?
JACOB PRITCHARD: Yeah, definitely pretty excited going to bed. It was a little hard to get to sleep. At the end of the day we came here to win two games, not just one. We have to get over it.
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, I'd say the exact same thing. It's over and done with now. We're looking forward to Saturday.
THE MODERATOR: What time did you get to sleep?
CALE MAKAR: I think we got back to the hotel around 1 or 1:30.
Q. Could you speak a little bit to the culture of the UMass hockey program, the day-to-day, what your mindset is, how it's developed?
JOHN LEONARD: Yeah, I think our culture is everything. It's kind of the biggest thing, as a freshman you get introduced to the culture. Something they try to introduce right away. The entire staff does a great job. We live our lives day in and day out based on that culture.
Q. Jacob, have you or maybe any of the other players been talking a lot to Mitchell and Niko, gotten their sense, the two toughest hours of their life, now they have the chance to perform in the final game?
JACOB PRITCHARD: Yeah. Those guys are great teammates, great leaders. They're a huge part of our team. Losing them, we know how much they care and how much those hours were probably just terrible for them. At the same time I think they trusted us that we'd go out there and get the win.
Q. Cale, a lot of people are going to say Minnesota Duluth has far more experience in these situations. This is new for you guys. How do you get instant experience? Does that inexperience might be a disadvantage or advantage for you guys?
CALE MAKAR: I don't think it's going to be too much of a disadvantage. It's something we've been growing as a team throughout our entire season experience-wise. You look at TD Garden, another experience for us. We're at the point now where everybody understands what's at stake. Excited to get things started. No, I don't think it's going to be a disadvantage at all.
Q. Cale, Clayton and Marc, talk about their role in helping you stay fit, relatively injury-free for six, seven months.
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, they have a very large role. We're very fortunate to have such great, I guess, support staff on our team. Clayton, you're able to go into the gym whenever you want, regardless if it's our workout time or your individual time to go work.
In terms of Marc, you're able to get treatment whenever. They're been so accessible in terms of time we can go in and everything.
Q. John, as an Amherst native, what do you feel is going on back at home?
JOHN LEONARD: I think there's a lot of excitement, in Western Mass, even in the state in general. Like I said, in the past everywhere we go, there's tremendous support at different rinks, things like that. Expect nothing less tomorrow night.
THE MODERATOR: We'll let the players go get ready for a skate. Best of luck. We will take questions for Coach Carvel.
Q. How do you convince your guys they are on equal footing going against a team that's making its third NCAA championship, consecutive, appearance? What do you say?
GREG CARVEL: I'd say we just played Notre Dame, who went to three Frozen Fours in a row, something like that. You just played Denver that won a national championship. Just another good team that we need to be at our best.
Q. At what point did you see this team learn that it gained the confidence that it belongs on such a national stage and can compete at this level?
GREG CARVEL: I think it was early in the year. I think it was the third game when we went into Ohio State, they were No. 1, we beat them 6-3. I think the next night the game was tied 1-1 with two minutes to go, and we lost late. We were upset. From that point on, I know we didn't think we were supposed to lose another game all year. Again, that's why we didn't lose two games in a row this year. When we did lose, we got really upset, found ways to get better. We were upset that we didn't bring a standard that could win, because we feel we can win every game.
Q. Is there a balance of wanting to make sure your kids experience all that there is in this moment, and at the same time treating it like it's any other hockey game?
GREG CARVEL: Yeah, you want them to enjoy it. Now that we're going through it, there's really not a lot to enjoy except the game, trying to win games. Not like we're holding them back from going out front and shooting pucks, whatever is going on out there.
We're all going to be regretful if we did something that distracted us from being our best to win the games. So the balance has been easy. The media has been obviously a lot more than usual.
But even though we've been here since Tuesday night, I feel like we've been very focused on our task, not feeling like we've had to balance, that the guys are not getting the full experience. Last night was the full experience.
Q. Obviously you have some fond memories in this building. Alfredsson scoring the goal in overtime. Now that you've had some time to digest it, how does Marc's one timer in overtime compare?
GREG CARVEL: Better shot, for sure. Not even close. Very comparable. Highest point my time in the NHL, now my highest point as an NCAA coach. I hope tomorrow night's game goes to overtime right now.
Q. Is there a sense that the difficulty of last night's game, how hard it was, makes you more battle-tested for tomorrow night than if it had been a 3-1 game, the way it started out?
GREG CARVEL: No, I don't feel that way. Just glad we have a day off in between. We don't play till 8:00. We should be able to recover and be fully energized to go.
I don't think this style of game really would have an effect. We know Duluth is a heavy team. We've played Providence three times this year, very similar team, another heavy team.
I don't think really whatever style of game last night, which apparently was very physical because everybody was getting thrown out, we'll be set for Duluth. We have a pretty good understanding of how they play. They're like Denver: very defensive-minded team, don't give you a lot. They're a little bigger team, play a little heavier style.
But we fully respect the opponent. We fully respect they're the defending champion. They've been here every year. We understand we're the underdogs. It's all right. We're fine with that.
Q. Could you describe the two brothers, Marc, his style of play as opposed to Anthony's style of play. You can reference carpenters, plumbers...
GREG CARVEL: Marc described himself last night as a country club boy, didn't he?
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG CARVEL: Don't admit that.
He doesn't play like a country club kid. He's a high-skill guy. Marc is a tremendous player. We had committed him verbally to St. Lawrence when I was there. He was quite young. Fortunately he was one of only a couple kids that decided to come with me and Jared who recruited him just to UMass. Very fortunate that he did.
He is a tremendous player. He is a really high-end college hockey player who is nowhere near his ceiling. He plays with Cale, which obviously is an asset. If you didn't know Cale Makar or Marc going into last night, you might think Marc is a better player. Marc had more of an effect on the game.
Then his brother Anthony is the complete opposite. Anthony is a plumber, a hard worker. Anthony is a very smart hockey player. Anthony is the kind of kid you want to go to war with. I think I could beat him up the ice in a race, but he'd beat the hell out of me in the corner or anything else we do in life.
So we lose two top forwards last night. He goes from playing fourth line minutes to playing on the first line. He's on the ice when his brother scores the winning goal. I believe he was out there.
That family, those are the type of kids you want on your team. They're not country club boys, they're blue-collar as long as the day is. You want to go to war with those kids. They're really good kids. They're hockey players.
Q. What have the last 11 hours been like for you? How much time did you spend on trying to get some video of Duluth versus getting some rest, being near-ish 100% for today?
GREG CARVEL: I've kind of passed off the pre-scout to Jared and Ben right now. A lot going on this morning. I'll watch tonight.
I'll share a secret with you. My parents go to Florida. I go visit them every year with my kids. That's kind of our getaway. In September I made a flight for April 13th at 6:30 for a family trip. In February, I was like, Oh, my God. I made that reservation, stuck it in a desk somewhere. When I made it, I had no idea. I thought the season would be over. It's the only week with my kids are off of school. I made the flight. It hit me, Oh, my God. I think we have a flight for the same time as the national championship game.
This morning I made changes to my flight reservations (smiling). It was the happiest $200 per flight charge I'll ever make. But that's been the biggest stress in my family. How are we going to get to Florida? I said, We're going to Buffalo and hopefully stay there (laughter). That consumed an hour of my morning. But that's all set. We got a couple days before I got to worry about that.
Don't even know what your question was (smiling).
Q. I know last night after the game you said you wanted your team to play physical. They got some penalties. Is there kind of a fine line you're going to have to walk tomorrow night between playing physical but staying composed, not taking penalties that could be risky?
GREG CARVEL: Absolutely. In the course of the game, the two kids that got kicked out, when those hits happened, I wasn't thinking, They're going to be kicked out of the game. You've seen our team play. We check. It's hockey. You run into people. I guess they unfortunately hit heads first. I honestly haven't really gone back to dissect them.
But that's our identity. You play hard. I don't think Duluth is any different. There's always the line that you can't hit the guy in the head. I don't consider ourselves a team that looks for that. But I consider ourselves a team that we want to be a heavy team, we want to be hard, we want to be physically -- we want the physical part of the game to be a factor that goes in our favor.
We won't change anything except ask the guys to be a little more disciplined in how they go about it.
Q. I read where you mentioned Bobby, smallest guy on the team, but he's the guy in front of the net every time. What does he bring to your team?
GREG CARVEL: Another blue-collar kid that you want on your team. He's 5'8". I watch him weigh in. It's always see if he got up to 150 or not. That's after every other kid is 200, 205. He jumps up there. I love him. He's tough as nails, scores big goals, plays every situation. He's like the Del Gaizos.
Jared and Ben do an unbelievable job getting these kids who haven't been USA Hockey kids their whole life, but they're high-character kids that play the game hard, good skill level.
As coaches, there's certain kids you want on your team. Bobby is one of those kids. Plays the game on edge. He knocks down as many guys of the opponents of anybody on our team every night. We'll always start video on Monday showing good, physical hits. He'll knock down three guys a game. He's 5'8", 148 pounds, scores goals, goes to the front of the net, does it all. We're very fortunate to have him. Unbelievable player.
Q. You mentioned last night Niko and Mitchell, had to be the two longest hours of their lives. Have they said anything in particular about their anticipation for this game, a little extra something?
GREG CARVEL: No, I haven't really spoken to them. When we came off the ice, they were high-fiving and hugging everybody. You could tell by looking in their eyes those kids had been sitting in terror. None of these kids want to be a reason why a season like this comes to an end.
They both really are impactful players on our team. Niko is our captain, plays big minutes on the kill. We needed a lot of that last night. That was another huge factor in the game last night. Niko and Mitchell are two of our top four penalty killers. Not in the lineup for most of the game.
Those two guys, the upside is I think we'll receive the absolute best they can give the team tomorrow night.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports