With all four teams practicing Thursday at the East Regional, there were plenty of quotable moments.
- Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin kicked off his press conference on Thursday by introducing leading scorer Jack Connolly as Zac Brown from the Zac Brown Band. I’ll admit that I had to do a Google image search for Zac Brown, but after looking at the photo, I see Sandelin’s point. Of course, Connolly is sporting a playoff beard that would make any NHLer jealous.
- Sandelin’s Bulldogs may not have felt very welcome when they arrived at their hotel, the Courtyard Marriott in nearby Shelton, Conn. When they arrived at breakfast Thursday morning, the sign outside of the room read: “University of Minnesota.” Said Sandelin, “They’re going to change that in a hurry.”
- When asked what concerns him about Minnesota-Duluth, Union coach Nate Leaman quickly quipped, “The weather,” saying he wouldn’t want to live there. He quickly recanted. “I didn’t mean that. Hopefully that doesn’t go into print in the Duluth paper. I’ve never been to Duluth, so I can’t say that.”
- Leaman referenced the 2010 ECAC tournament when talking about how he’s prepared his team for this weekend’s NCAA tournament, noting that he didn’t prepare his team for all the media attention and hype a year ago. This time around Leaman, who was part of the Maine coaching staff in 1999 that won the national title, imparted as much knowledge as he could on his team which is making its first NCAA tournament appearance.
- The ever-quotable Air Force coach Frank Serratore didn’t disappoint when he took the podium. When asked about having beaten Yale earlier this season in Colorado Spring, Serratore joked, “Because we beat them, I think they should have to beat us twice to be able to move on. Tomorrow, if they win we’ll go down to the Yale Whale and have the rubber game.”
- Serratore talked about how playing in front of a hostile environment for last week’s Atlantic Hockey title (Air Force beat RIT in Rochester in the finals) will prepare his team to face Yale less than an hour from their campus on Friday: “We played that championship game against RIT and there was like 4,500 people in there. It was all orange in there. It looked like a pumpkin convention.”
- This is Air Force and Serratore’s fourth trip to the NCAA Regional but its first since losing to Vermont in double overtime in the regional final in Bridgeport. Some may remember that the winning goal was scored on a puck that went through the net and some 20 minutes later – after a whistle finally halted play and the officials reviewed the goal on video – the goal was awarded. Remembering back to that game, Serratore quipped, “It’s not often technology works against the Air Force but it did that night.”
- Serratore said that in the first meeting between Yale and Air Force this season, a 4-3 win for the Falcons in which they scored the final four goals of the game, that he believed the altitude in Colorado played a factor in Yale becoming fatigued late in the game. When Yale coach Keith Allain was asked about that, he dodged the question with rare humor: “I can’t translate for coach Serratore. He talks real fast.”
- Many wanted to ask Allain about the possibility of his team reaching the Frozen Four for the first time in more than half a century. Asked if he realized what was at stake this weekend, Allain wanted nothing to do with referencing a Frozen Four berth. “What’s at stake is if you don’t win tomorrow, you don’t play anymore,” said Allain.