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April 2, 2013

Norm Bazin

Josh Holmstrom


MODERATOR:  Coach, if you could give us a quick opening statement and we'll open it up for questions.
COACH BAZIN:  We're certainly very excited about this year's Frozen Four.  We've had a season of firsts here at UMASS‑Lowell.  First it was the regular season title of the regional title.  All firsts for our school and our club.
We've continued with our group defense approach.  It's worked well for us.  The guys presently are playing very hard for each other.  They're very proud students here at UMASS‑Lowell.  We've got good leadership.
Certainly had great goaltending here of late and strong team defense.  That's been our formula for our recent success.
We started off 2, 6, and 1 as a difficult start, however we felt we played very strong competition in playing Boston College twice and UNH twice, in that span coupled with a trip to Colorado, playing Colorado College.  So we felt we played some great competition.
It gave us a barometer of where we were, and obviously those teams were stronger to start the season than we were.  And we've since improved.  We've had a good stretch the second half, to point here where we're one of the four participants in the Frozen Four.
So we're very excited about that.  We're looking forward to a great tournament.
MODERATOR:  Questions.

Q.  Norm, simple follow‑up to the conversation you had over the weekend in Manchester and the team's defense (indiscernible).  The game against Wisconsin was much closer than the 6‑to‑1 final.  And UNH down for the last ten seconds before the score.  Do you still contend you can keep the focus on just your team and not look at the other teams in the tournament now, or will it be a shift as to what the other teams will bring next weekend?
COACH BAZIN:  Well, it's really a focus about us.  Every team that's remaining is a very good club.  We certainly do feel that every opponent we play is very good.  But we remain steadfast in our concentration of our own game plan and how we play.
And that's how we approach every single weekend.  We have been that way for the last probably 13 weekends.

Q.  Josh, Coach talked a little bit at the press conference following the win over UNH about the hardships that you guys overcame, injuries and whatnot.  So I was wondering if I could get your perspective on what turned things around and specifically I was wondering if you could talk about the leadership of Riley Wetmore and some of the other upperclassmen?
JOSH HOLMSTROM:  Riley Wetmore has been a great impact on this team the whole year, even through the tough start.  He was making sure that guys were doing the right things and sticking with the process, and we knew we had to keep working and we were going to continue to get better.  So his leadership just the whole year and it's continued obviously through the whole year and as of late I think his play has been phenomenal.
But I just know we have to keep working hard just the whole year and every day we came to practice and we were trying to get better and better.  And as a result we still get to play a couple more games.

Q.  For those who got a chance to see Doug Carr last year, we know what a good goaltender he is.  And Connor has obviously given Coach Bazin a luxury.  Did you guys know from the get‑go how good this kid could be?
JOSH HOLMSTROM:  I don't know.  I know we had two good goalies and they both work very hard in practice pushing each other day in, day out.  So I think that competition is very healthy.  And Connor has been great.
I know our team defense as a whole has been good in front of him.  And he's very calm back there.  I don't think he's playing like a freshman right now.  He's very calm in his demeanor.  He doesn't let too many things get to him.  And he's just done‑‑ he's just done a great job.

Q.  Coach, I want to ask you the process of getting here.  Because last year you guys just missed the Frozen Four.  Can you talk about the process over the course of the season and even in the postseason where how the team has come together and been able to successfully take that next step and were there any changes, if any, to get here?
COACH BAZIN:  There were changes because you have a different goalie that played in the regional last year.  Obviously we feel Doug's capable also.  But right now Connor's running with the ball.
You've got three new defensemen that weren't playing in the regional last year that are playing for us currently and you've got three to four new forwards in the forward line in the regional last year.  So our goal coming into the season was trying to improve upon last year.  And I think we've done that.  It's a strong buy‑in factor by the whole club.  I think the kids should be commended because they've had a very selfless approach to each and every day.  They come to work and they try to improve.
And we're still trying to improve this week leading up to next week's games.  And that's our goal all the way along and so far it's been good for us.

Q.  Josh, you were part of the team three years ago that had five wins.  What did Coach Bazin bring to the program that turned it around in such a 180 fashion?
JOSH HOLMSTROM:  I think he came in and he believed in us from day one and he got us to believe in each other as well and he instilled some great work habits for everybody.
I know every day that we come to the rink we're trying to get better.  That was one of‑‑ that's been the goal the past two years is we didn't have anything really set in stone.  It was move improve every day.  And the results will take care of themselves and I think that's just been one of the biggest things that he's taught everybody on the team is just always work and try to get better every day.

Q.  What is probably the one area or one or two areas you think the team has improved the most under that mentality?
JOSH HOLMSTROM:  I think our team defense has been great.  We have everybody in the locker room is bought into our system and we know that our success comes from the defensive zone first and if any given night if we're good down there we give ourselves a chance to win at the end of the night.

Q.  Norm, just thinking back to your playing days, it was teams like BC, BU, Maine, et cetera, dominating hockey.  Now this year you guys get the win, and you're going to the Frozen Four, can you talk about being the flag bearer for Hockey East and just the pride you take in being that first team outside the big four to really make a run on the national stage?
COACH BAZIN:  Yeah, it's certainly exciting for our program, our school.  This is a vastly different school than when I went to school.
I mean, we're talking 20 years ago.  The progress on campus has been outstanding.  And you have to start there, quite frankly, because we're well supported.  We've got Tsongas Center Arena that's second to none.  So it's a vastly different school than when I went.
As far as being the flag bearer for the league, it's such a good conference that it prepares you well for outside competition.  And we happen to be the representative this year.  There were several teams in our league that are good enough to be in the Final Four‑‑ the Frozen Four, excuse me, but however we're this year's representative and we're extremely pleased to be that team.  However, this year's league, conference, was ruthless.
There's so many good teams in Hockey East.  And we're certainly thrilled to be their representative this year.

Q.  Just kind of think about the idea the parity in college hockey people have been talking about, for the last 20 years we haven't seen too many new schools win national championships.  This year we'll have the first time national champion.  Is parity something that's finally starting to show I guess come around, in a way coaches have always said it was?
COACH BAZIN:  Yeah, you bring up an excellent point.  I think you're seeing it in glaring fashion this year.  When you can talk about four schools, and obviously somebody's going to win the trophy at the end here, it's exciting to know that somebody new is going to be a national champion, and everyone's going into it with an even playing field.  There's going to be some new contender that's going to take away the prize.
So we're thrilled to be one of the four competing teams, and I think all four teams have an equal chance of taking the trophy home.

Q.  Coach, one of the things I found most impressive in your two games in the Northeast Regional was the patience you guys had.  Obviously that says something to a mature or a team with more upper classmen.  How do you coach that?  How do you coach patience and the willingness to wait for your opportunities?
COACH BAZIN:  I'm not sure, there's different points in the game that we'd like to have more patience than we had, even.  I think it's going through the process all year long, reverting back to the strong league.
When you play UNH, when you play Maine, when you play Boston College any given weekend, I think you grow a thick skin.  You know how hard it is to compete for every single puck, and it really prepared us for a great regional.
I thought our field was chock full of great teams and I wasn't disappointed.  Wisconsin, somebody mentioned earlier, it was a much closer game than the score indicated.  We knew that and we were expecting that.  The second game obviously was as close as it could be.  Again, we're thrilled to be the representative from that region.  However, from our standpoint, the league has really prepared us well.

Q.  Have you had a chance to take a look at Yale?  Can you tell me if there are one or two things that really concern you?  Obviously they're a good team and they deserve to be there.  One or two things that really jump out at you.
COACH BAZIN:  Yeah, I'd like to say I have.  But I'm just starting that process now.  So I'll be in a better position to answer that in a few days.

Q.  Coach and Riley, just comment if you can about the impact Scott Wilson has had on this season?
COACH BAZIN:  Scott had a good year.  Started off slow.  It's as much a microcosm of our team, started off slow and since gained some momentum in the second half.  But he's someone that can make a play at a crucial time, and I think when you look at the Frozen Four and you look at a regional, it takes someone to make a play at a crucial time.  It's an exciting part of the game.  I think we've got several guys in our lineup who are in that category, have liked the contributions of Pendenza, Wetmore, and Wilson.  But then you take the next tier of Holmstroms and Wallin, Thompson, White, Chapie, they've all made contributions over the last couple of weekends that are key to our success.
So it's exciting, but he certainly is one of the guys that we feel can make that play at a crucial time to get us over the hump.

Q.  Just asking about Scott and the impact he's having as a sophomore?
JOSH HOLMSTROM:  Scott, he's had a good year.  I think he's a special player.  He's one of those guys that makes the other guys around him better.  And that's not just on the ice.  That's off the ice as well.
And even though he's a sophomore, he has a strong voice amongst everybody.  And he's carried himself well.  And he's just a good guy to have on the team.

Q.  Coach, could you talk about the role of momentum here in the college hockey tournament especially?  You guys I think people regard you as one if not the hottest team going into the tournament.  Then you look at a team like Yale who had maybe its worst weekend of the season right beforehand, barely made it and now reeled off maybe the two most impressive wins in succession.  So what role does momentum play in your opinion?
COACH BAZIN:  I'd like to say it carries some weight.  But frankly I think with ten days before our next game, that is wiped clean.
If you keep playing three, four days after your last game, I think momentum plays a part.  But with this tournament being spread out a little bit, I think you can wipe the slate clean as far as who has momentum and who doesn't.  I think all four teams feel pretty good about themselves.  They just finished off with two wins in the last two games, and everybody's on an even playing field.

Q.  Norm, when you took this program over a couple of years ago, I remember being at the press conference and you said you wanted to compete for national championships, did you think it could ever really happen this fast, though?
COACH BAZIN:  I guess I didn't give it a timetable.  I said it will be a work in progress.
I think sometimes you can't really put a timetable, who would have guessed you have a freshman goalie to come out and beat your finalist for the player of the year or the year before.  That's what's interesting about hockey.  That's why people come to the games.  It's a game of turnovers.  It's a game of speed.
And things happen quickly.  So I'm proud of these guys.  They were open to change.  And certainly our coaching staff came in, made a number of changes, and I'm excited for their progress and more importantly for the opportunity they had this weekend.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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