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April 11, 2013
Quinnipiac – 4
St. Cloud State – 1
THE MODERATOR: We will begin with some opening thoughts from the head coach.
COACH PECKNOLD: We're excited. It's a proud moment for Quinnipiac University hockey program. Just really proud of my guys tonight. I don't think it was our best game of the year. I don't think we played perfect. But we battled and found a way to score goals and got that nice lead early.
We had some struggles defensively, but Hartzell was great again. I thought he was the best player on the ice tonight. I thought we did a nice job in front of him. We could have cleaned up a few things, but you saw why Eric Hartzell is in the Hobey Baker hat trick right now.
I'm proud of my guys. They compete hard, battle hard. It's been a great group of guys, it's been a great ride, and we have to get one more.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players.
Q. Jordan, talk about the first couple of minutes there? You almost seemed possessed with the first couple of shifts.
JORDAN SAMUELS‑THOMAS: Yeah, we had the overtime in the game before. Almost expected that there could be a little bit of a letdown. So I just want to come out there and get to my game, strong around the net and kind of set the pace to get myself in the game and get my teammates in the game too.
Q. As big as it was to get the early 2‑0 lead, was there an even greater feeling of being in control when you killed off the penalty and you go up 3‑0 right after?
ZACH DAVIES: Yeah, I mean, that was a huge break for us. It sways the momentum back on our side from theirs after that kill, and scoring the goal just adds a little more momentum to the game. 3‑0 in the first period is a pretty good lead, and gave us a lot to work with.
Q. Coming back to your place, the first goal is a wraparound. The second goal is another wraparound where you just use the puck. Is that one of those plays where you get the sense that this is something we might be able to go to the well for a couple of times?
JORDAN SAMUELS‑THOMAS: For sure. I felt like I had some good jump in the beginning. A lot of guys won the battle, and Goody won the battle which allowed me to get the puck. I jammed it, and the second goal was the same. I got in there, and Arnt won a battle and allowed me to put the puck on net, and he cashed in on the goal. Guys were there and winning battles.
Q. Guys, you are one game away from a national hockey championship. What do you do from now until then to keep from getting nervous about that game?
JEREMY LANGLOIS: I think we're going to just keep doing what we've been doing. I'm sure the coaching staff will do a good job of preparing us for Saturday. If we played the way we would like to that will definitely benefit us, and I know everyone will be excited. I think we just want to use those towards the game.
ZACH DAVIES: What was the question again?
THE MODERATOR: What are you going to do to keep from being nervous?
ZACH DAVIES: We've just got to focus on the game. We're going to be nervous. It's the largest crowd we've ever played in front of, and we've just got to use that excitement. It's a little extra in our step, and hopefully it helps us in the game.
JORDAN SAMUELS‑THOMAS: Yeah, it's a great opportunity. It's a blessing to have this opportunity, but in reality, it's the same game we've played since we were 6 or 7 years old. So we keep that in mind, and I think the nerves will go away.
Q. Jordan, how would you describe your rivalry with Yale, and obviously, you get to play them now. How would you describe how that's gone this year and in previous years?
JORDAN SAMUELS‑THOMAS: I mean, this is my first year in the rivalry, and it's awesome. It's something that the school really rallies around. It's usually our biggest game all year. They're a really good team. I think we play a really entertaining game when we play them because we're so close. So it's definitely really exciting to play them any time.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about the support you're getting from your students both here and on campus?
ZACH DAVIES: Well, you can see the stands tonight was fully yellow, which is awesome to see. The buzz on campus the last few weeks has been incredible. You walk around and everyone wants to talk to you. Everyone's saying congratulations. Teachers are talking about it in class. It's been really incredible in our school. It's huge over the past years where we didn't do as well and people have really rallied behind us this year.
JEREMY LANGLOIS: Yeah, I think it's great. Our fan base has been amazing on the run that we've been on this year. I know they're very excited for us to get to this point. We want to win them one more game.
JORDAN SAMUELS‑THOMAS: Yeah, just kind of repeating what they said. It's really exciting. It's something that kind of rallies the student body together. Obviously, it's exciting for us, but it was exciting for the teachers, the students, the administration, and everyone that is a part of Quinnipiac University. It is definitely exciting for the whole Quinnipiac family.
Q. Guys, any sense of pride heading into Saturday in an all ECAC championship game? Your league might get disrespected sometimes, but one of you guys are going to take home the trophy.
JORDAN SAMUELS‑THOMAS: To be honest with you, I'm not really looking at it as an ECAC thing. For Saturday night, it's going to be Quinnipiac versus Yale. We hope to end up on top. I think we're just kind of trying to stay focused on the game itself to not really get wrapped up on everything else that comes around the game and what it means for the league.
JEREMY LANGLOIS: I think it makes for definitely a good story, the teams being so close in proximity. But like Jordan said, once it comes to game time, I don't think it really matters what league you're in or anything like that. It's just two teams going at it, and we look forward to it.
ZACH DAVIES: I just think it's good for the league. But when it comes down to it, it's two teams and we want to win.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the players? Okay, guys, we'll let you go. Thank you very much and congratulations. We'll continue with questions for Coach.
COACH PECKNOLD: Thank you.
Q. Maybe just picking up a segue from those last comments about the ECAC. It's been quite a while. There must be some level, if you will, and excitement about the fact that this league is maybe looked upon as the WCHA hockey that ECAC has been is now in the final two teams?
COACH PECKNOLD: Yeah, I think it's phenomenal for our league. I think the ECAC was one of the best if not the best league in the country this year. Top to bottom, we're as good as anyone. I think sometimes a couple of the bigger teams will have, I used to say the Thomas Vaneks of the world, those type of players. We might not get as many of those kids, but we have great players in our league, top to bottom. We have great student‑athletes, great character. We play hard. You saw that tonight.
You saw Yale do that tonight, and I think it's a great to our league. Our league was awesome all year. You look at us why we were number one in the pair‑wise, it's our success, and our league's success. Not only were we one in the pair‑wise. It wasn't even a close second. I think we could have lost four in a row and still would have won it.
For any team win the NCAA, you need to win, and you need your league to win. I think we've done that all year top to bottom. I said it, I don't know, I think it was one of the XM Radio interviews I did. I said the worst team in the league could beat the number one team in the country. I didn't even know who the worst team was at the time. I think it was St. Lawrence at that time and they were tied for last and they had just beaten one of the top teams in the country or something. So it's always top to bottom. We're a great league, and I think we're seeing that this year. And Union did a great job, and we've got some good teams.
Q. Could you talk about how opportunistic your team was tonight cashing in in that first period? Every time you had a chance, teams go in the net?
COACH PECKNOLD: I think we're very opportunistic. As I said, I'm very proud of my team. I actually thought it was great when the first game went to overtime. We had prepared for it. We had talked about it during the week. I thought we used it to our advantage. We talked as soon as the game went into overtime. I told the guys again. I probably told them four times this week, but we talked about it.
First thing I talked to them about in our pregame speech is this game could go into overtime. I guess it was 6:10, so I don't know where the game would have been at that point. But we need to prepare for that. We're a veteran team. We have great character, we handle adversity well, and we need to jump St. Cloud.
We don't know how they're going to handle it. I'm not saying that was the pivotal moment of the game, but I thought it was an advantage for us that we had been prepared for it. Certainly, any time you can jump out to a 1 or 2, 3‑0 lead, it's a big advantage.
Q. This will be the fourth time facing Yale this year. How much does it help to be familiar with your opponent on Saturday?
COACH PECKNOLD: There are two ways to look at it. You're like we're 3‑0 against Yale. Some people might say that's great for Quinnipiac, and I would say that's really tough to beat somebody four times in a row. I'm not going to waiver you away. The one thing I've seen from Yale, I watch both of their games. Minnesota‑NorthDakota and I saw the game tonight, and this is a different team than when we beat them in Atlantic City. They've got some new jam. They're competing hard. They're doing some things, and have some players that are on a different level than they were three or four weeks ago.
Really, that 3‑0 win in Atlantic City for us, we had nothing to play for, literally nothing. We tried to motivate our guys, and we weren't very good. Hartzell stole the game for us. He was just an absolute stud. I think we went 3‑0, and we got a couple goals that were a little iffy. We probably shouldn't have won that game.
I think you can throw the 3‑0 out the window. It's going to be a battle. They've got some great players. We've got some great players, and we definitely play two different type styles of game. We'll have to go to war on Saturday.
Q. Coach, same question, basically that I asked the players: What do you do to keep them from getting overly jazzed about the final?
COACH PECKNOLD: Again, I keep talking about the character in that locker room. It is an awesome group of young men. Just A‑plus across the board, on the ice, off the ice, and we need to use that to our advantage. We've done it all year long, dealing with adversity.
We're resilient. We might not have the most talent in the country, but I think we are the best team, and now we need to go prove it. We'll be nervous on Saturday, but so will Yale. We've talked about this week with my team. It's okay to be nervous, but we need to do little things well, pay attention to details.
I think you see so many times in the Frozen Four players that forget assignments, miss face‑off coverage, and things they don't do all year long because they get nervous on the big stage. We've just got to stay the course.
We have these lengthy TV timeouts, and it's really a different game than the regular season. These are two minutes, 2:15s, they're long. So you can recoach your guys on the bench, and go through some things that you need to do. So I think for us, we'll be nervous. Yale will be nervous. You can't avoid it. We have to attack it head‑on, and that's what we've done all year with adversity.
Q. This is the third or fourth time in the last couple of weeks, and I'm sure it's happened a few times this season when you guys have scored in bunches. What is it about this group that they not only score that first one, but they roll with it and keep coming the way they have tonight and Union and before that?
COACH PECKNOLD: Well, that's our plan every game. We want to score in bunches, but it doesn't always work out. I thought we finished well tonight. I thought we had an excellent game plan. I thought my assistants did a really good job in helping me and helping us prepare to play St. Cloud. I think they're an excellent hockey team.
Coach Motzko does a great job with them, and they were really good tonight. Their power play was awesome. We have the best power penalty kill in the country, and I thought our penalty kill stunk tonight. I thought they ate us apart. So we'll have to go back to the drawing board. There were some things we really struggled with.
We haven't seen a power play the way they ran it tonight. Plus we have the NHL lines, I don't know if everybody knows that, we have an extra four feet in offensive zone, which is different. This is the third game in a row we've dealt with that. We haven't dealt with that all season. So there are different points we want to jump.
So we have covered it. But we weren't as fluid with it, and I give a lot of credit to St. Cloud. They were really good, really patient, and we need to do a better job of the killing and shot blocking.
Q. A lot of people talk about Eric, and deservedly so, but your defense does a nice job in front of him especially within 15 feet or so of the crease. Can you talk about their experience and what makes them effective?
COACH PECKNOLD: Yeah, I think, as I said all year, Hartzell is our best player, there is no question. But we play well in front of him. We compete, we battle, and it's a give and take between the two. But our D‑corps has been really good all year. I don't know if there's any superstar there.
We have Zach Davies, he was the defenseman of the year in our league. He's been awesome all year. But the last two months, he's been one of the best players in the country. He's really stepped up his game and he's going to have a great pro career.
But I think that D‑corps, they all play, they all do different things. But we have four senior defensemen, and you cannot substitute for game experience. They've been through a lot. They've been through a lot of ups and downs in their four years, and they just don't panic when they get in situations of adversity.
Q. Coach, in general, your thoughts on two of your NHL prospects, Jordan and Kellen coming into an NHL venue and coming up big for you here tonight?
COACH PECKNOLD: Yeah, I thought Jordan was awesome tonight. He was moving his feet. He was competing. He was big and strong, and he was really good. Kellen was great. We had a lot of our kids. Peca was really good. Langlois was excellent. So I think we have more than those two pro prospects. I think we've got seven or eight kids on our team that have a real chance to play in the NHL one day. You have to see how it all shakes out.
But it's been a fun year. I say it all the time, it was almost like a Hartzell fan that followed us around with all these NHL scouts. They just traveled from rink to rink. But those guys played great. Jordan was really good tonight. That is probably the best game he's played all year.
Q. St. Cloud, you mentioned Jordan, but St. Cloud really pointed to his play in the early going as key to the game. Again, how big was he for you tonight?
COACH PECKNOLD: What did you say again?
Q. St. Cloud really pointed to Jordan's play. How big was that for you guys tonight?
COACH PECKNOLD: Yeah, he was dominant even outside of the goals and stuff. He was rolling. I think not only what we talk about a lot as a team is when you're going to have a big shift, not only is it important for that actual shift, but it gets our bench going. Our guys are really close, they're real tight.
He had a couple of shifts. You've got Peca and the twins on the bench. Now they're licking their chops because we want to go do that; and Langlois is ready to go. That's something we've done all year long where one line has a great shift, and it will energize the next couple of lines, and it's fun to watch. But I thought Jordan was a pivotal player in tonight's game.
Then just before we wrap up, because I know we're going to end this, but so you know, in the back of the room, we have our President, John Lahey who is here; and he's the architect of everything. And I have everything to thank for him for building me that nice arena and getting us rolling. And we have Jack McDonald, our athletic director in the room if you guys want to talk to them.
THE MODERATOR: The national championship game, 7:05 Saturday night, Quinnipiac and Yale. Coach, congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports