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April 12, 2019
Buffalo, New York
PETER KRIEGER: If bring our game, play the way we need to play for 60 minutes, I think we'll like the outcome.
DYLAN SAMBERG: I watched the game. They got a good power play obviously. They're good offensively. But I think we got good team defense. I think we can outplay them, so...
Q. Peter, a lot has been made about the experience this team has, Frozen Four experience, championship experience. How much does that play into what this team has been able to accomplish this season and going into tomorrow? How much might it help?
PETER KRIEGER: I think experience, any time you can get that, it beneficial. We might not have the oldest roster, we have had a lot of guys that have played in big stages, whether it has been prior teams, international experience, whatever it is. Past Frozen Fours, too. Having that experience is big.
Coming in and knowing how hard it is to get here, what it takes to get here, cherishing every opportunity because we've been fortunate enough to win it last year, and we want that feeling again.
It makes all the grind in the off-season and throughout the year, it makes it all worth it. You want to get back to this point every year. We set ourselves up for a good first half and second half, so we're excited to be here.
Q. Peter, tell us a little bit what happened up in Alaska that made you want to transfer to UMD? Wasn't that the best choice you ever made in your life.
PETER KRIEGER: Yeah, I guess, I don't know. I kind of committed in the first offer I had. I didn't really know much. I was excited to get up there. I enjoyed my time up there. Good memory, two great years.
For me, it was the hockey I wanted to go a different direction, wanted a chance to win a national championship, be a part of a little different style of play.
For me, when I got the chance to talk to the coaching staff here, it was a no-brainer for me. I was instantly ready to come here. I had friends that played here, currently at the time. It was an awesome experience. Yeah, definitely best decision I made. Looking back, so grateful for it.
Q. Being the defending champion, throughout the season, how have you handled that target, that pressure, knowing night in and night out you'll get the other team's best shot?
DYLAN SAMBERG: Last year we obviously won it. We knew coming into the year, like you said, everyone is going to be coming for us, a big target on our back. Really that comes with preparation. I feel like the guys have handled that pretty well this year.
THE MODERATOR: What was the postgame meal last night?
PETER KRIEGER: A little Mexican food. Tacos, rice.
THE MODERATOR: Did you watch the game, the second game?
PETER KRIEGER: I caught the third period in the overtime myself.
DYLAN SAMBERG: I watched second and third period.
Q. Dylan, being from Hermantown, Plantes are well-known names. What did the Plante family mean to you and what is your relationship with them like?
DYLAN SAMBERG: They're obviously a big family in Hermantown. Bruce was head coach there for a long time. I was fortunate enough to play for him, finish off his career with him. That whole family has just been really supportive. The whole Hermantown community is really supportive for me, beneficial in my development and everything.
Q. Peter, during the regional, we heard the No. 25 a lot, not just for the number on the back of your jersey, you're one of the older players in college hockey. How do you feel you're different than your teammates? Do you have a different style?
PETER KRIEGER: I don't know. I don't think different. It's just a different experience. Everyone has their own journey. I've kind of been all over. I'm definitely grateful to be here. Definitely we all connect, all the guys, whether it's a guy that comes in 17, 18, or a guy comes in 21, 22. That's the culture that the coaching staff has created in Duluth.
I get a little heckled I guess here or there for being the older guy. I wouldn't change it for the world, for sure. It's been an unbelievable journey for me, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, we'll let you go. Thanks very much. We'll continue with questions for Coach Sandelin.
Q. You played Denver five times. When you were watching the game last night, if you were, did you have a choice of which team you wanted to play? Have you made any plans to adjust to UMass? Are you going to go with your game and make adjustments during the game?
SCOTT SANDELIN: Well, we haven't seen a ton of UMass. Obviously if we would have played Denver, there's more familiarity there with the way they play. Same thing for them with the way we play.
Obviously when you see a team for the first time... I think there's good and bad. I mean, obviously there's no familiarity with maybe their style of play. You can watch games. But also that's good. There's some newness to that. It allows you to focus a little bit more on how you need to play.
There will probably be some things we'll obviously pay attention to, just like we do with any opponent. This isn't the time to go changing the way you play. If you have to within game, we'll make some adjustments. We've got to just prepare our team to play and do the things that we need to do to have success regardless of who we're playing.
They're a very good team. I've been impressed with what I've seen. They're a pressure team, fast, have a real mobile back end. But we've seen teams like that, too.
Q. What do you make of a 31-win team that considers itself the underdog because you have been here, third trip?
SCOTT SANDELIN: All I know is you win 31 games, you're a damn good hockey team. And they are. If that's all that people want to spin it, I mean, I guess there's reasons for that.
Yeah, we have been here before. But when the puck drops, it's a hockey game regardless of who's played how many games. Hopefully our guys, because they've been there, will start the game well and hopefully play their best game.
It's going to be a great hockey game.
Q. Watching these two teams, seems you both like to get through the neutral zone with some speed, stop their opponent from doing that. How important does the neutral zone become tomorrow night? How do you slow down a fast team?
SCOTT SANDELIN: I mean, they're a little bit different than some of the teams we've seen as far as how they defend through the neutral zone. That's probably one thing that we'll focus on.
I don't think it changes. You got to manage pucks. You got to make sure you're not forcing plays or turning pucks over in critical areas. There's no question. We're not a huge east-west team. We're more of a vertical north team. We have to have support and speed and chips, get after it.
For us defensively, just making sure you're above people, everybody is doing their job. They're going to get pucks behind our D. When you do that, you know you're going to be back on pucks, so you've got to have good structure coming back and getting pucks out.
We know they pressure. We're going to have to make plays under pressure. We got to learn to handle that. Hopefully we can do the same thing to them. It's when we're playing well, too.
But I think just support, puck support, just managing pucks is going to be critical. Not just through the neutral zone, but all over the rink. If you want to generate some speed, play your game, you have to get through there. To nullify them, you have to make sure everybody's doing their job and making sure you're above people, not allowing any out-numbered rushes.
Q. Third straight Frozen Four trip, third straight time you've been sitting here on Friday practicing. Do you get into a routine like a regular schedule of what you do, eat certain times, or do you try to make each a unique experience?
SCOTT SANDELIN: I think you try to stay in as much of your routine as you can. It's been kind of fun because Wednesday practice, we start with a three-puck game. When you have the practice here, I know the first year we did it, everybody that was watching didn't know what the heck we were doing. But our guys, it's something we do all year. That continued.
Obviously kind of run more of -- with the game being Thursday, more of your typical Thursday practice. Today is a little bit unique just because guys are really excited. I just want to get them out there, get them moving, again, have some fun out there, not make them think too much right now. They'll get dialed in later tonight and tomorrow.
Today they're still enjoying it a little bit. You want them to have fun out there, too. But we stay pretty much in a little bit of a normal routine.
Q. Having been in these situations as often as you have over the past couple years, is it possible to become comfortable? Do you adjust and become comfortable in what you are experiencing?
SCOTT SANDELIN: Well, I think any time you have experience going through something, you're a little bit more comfortable. But if you're looking for the word 'complacency', it will never set in, I can tell you that.
But, yeah, I think it makes guys feel a little bit better because they know what to expect, especially when you get here, the long day that it is on Wednesday. Their solace is getting on the rink. They love being on the rink. Some guys are better with the media, some aren't. They like getting on the rink, hanging out.
It's a special time of the year. When you're still playing in April, be together, practice today, get on the ice one more time for a morning skate at Saturday, those are special times.
I think there's a little bit of a comfortable level, for sure. The first-year guys, the freshmen, they don't know anything. They just kind of follow along. I do think there's a little bit of that.
Q. Can you appreciate what UMass has done? When you reflect to your first year, how far they've come, if you didn't have anything on the line, a lot of people would be rooting for them, maybe you yourself?
SCOTT SANDELIN: I think, what was it 5-5-17-30 before. I wish mine would have gone that fast, I know that (smiling). But we kind of had the same trajectory. We got to Boston in '04, which was kind of fun, it kind of built the same way. We didn't get to the final game.
It's a credit to them, their recruiting, getting players. Sometimes it doesn't go that quickly. Obviously when you get some special players, Makar is a great player, they have some other ones, too, when you get a headliner like that, it certainly helps to get other players, too.
It's a credit to them. Like I said I think the other day, there's so many hard-working staffs that do a good job recruiting. You know what, to put together a quality program... It's not like he's a first-year coach. He's done that, too. He's been around the recruiting world in college hockey prior to taking that job.
It's still kind of a cool story to see teams take a step up. It gives hope for a lot of programs. You work hard, get the right kids that fit in your program, you can have some success. Doesn't mean you're going to get to this point all the time, but you can have success. Give those guys a lot of credit.
Q. What did you see in Hunter Shepard? What did you see that made you think he'd be a good fit for your program?
SCOTT SANDELIN: I think one of the best games I saw him play was a Thanksgiving tournament at Edina High School. 64 saves, lost in overtime. He was unbelievable. I was on the phone with him after.
Again, we were talking to other people. We kind of tracked him. He went to Bismarck. Our goaltending situation was pretty good. We were fortunate at the end of his second year, junior, I know there were other schools interested in him, to continue to talk to him and get him there.
Just competitive. I mean, he's ultra-competitive. If you would have watched that game, you would have seen that. If you've watched him play for us, he's that type of goaltender. He's super competitive. He's matured a lot. I think one of the things I appreciate about him, if he's not on his A game, he has a B game. I think that's really important for a goaltender.
A lot of it's just through sheer compete. He's become more of a leader for our team vocally. He talks all the time on the ice. He's become more and more vocal in the dressing room. He's not a rah-rah guy, but he's that guy when he does talk, guys listen. That's the beauty of college. You watch these kids mature, grow, develop.
Last thing, our volunteer goalie coach Brant Nicklin has done an unbelievable job. To me, he gets the credit for getting Shep to where he is. We're pretty fortunate he got in our program. He likes to hunt and fish. He could come back, go ice fishing in the winter, do those things he loves to do.
Q. 8:00 game tomorrow night, in a hotel, what do you do to keep the guys engaged?
SCOTT SANDELIN: The good thing is it falls into a little bit more of our normal weekend game routine, times. We'll get up, have breakfast, have a morning skate. We'll just do a normal day. Have a little video, be done with it. They'll have their naps. We'll head over when we can.
Sometimes the games you do want to play, you don't want to sit around, I get that. It was nice yesterday to be able to play a little bit earlier. But you got to go through that. The regionals are good with that, too, you have some different times, you get that experience. We played some earlier games, too. Also some late games. I think we had an 8:00 game in our league because it was a doubleheader. That's not fun when you're playing 7:00.
We could be playing at midnight. I don't think any of these kids are going to care. They just want to play.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT SANDELIN: No, no. We'll keep them around the hotel.
THE MODERATOR: If you could pick a time, what would it be?
SCOTT SANDELIN: I think 6:00 would be great.
Q. Both teams got into specialty situations. Big penalty kills on both sides. How important is discipline? Greg called his team a heavy team. He said your team is a heavy team. Not crossing that line in putting your team at risk?
SCOTT SANDELIN: It's huge. I mean, I think it's something we stress all the time. I don't think I stressed it any more. I might be a little louder when I say it now because it's so critical. You just got to stay out of that.
It's an emotional game. There's emotions, there's intensity. That is what kids play for, to be in these games. You know what, as much as you talk about it, you hope that they listen and follow through with that.
Again, too, you got to see how they're going to call games, right, what they're going to allow, what they're not. That can also escalate things. But that's what makes it fun.
You know what, those are adjustments you have to make, right? You have to make those adjustments, too. If it's a tighter game, you've got to make sure you don't cross that line.
But discipline is huge. I know for us, it's going to be talked about a lot because obviously their power play is good, just like Providence's was. We don't want to spend a lot of time in the box if we don't have to.
THE MODERATOR: Every national championship game that has ended in the year 9 has been decided by one goal. All of them but one has been decided by a 4-3 score. I guess we expect a 4-3 game tomorrow night.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports