Maine and then finally Wisconsin take the ice and then answer questions. For the Black Bears, it’s their eighth straight trip to the NCAA tournament and fifth Frozen Four appearance in the past seven years. For Wisconsin, it’s the Badgers’ third straight trip to the dance, but the first time to make it this far since 1992.
The gist of these press conferences centers around Wisconsin being a virtual home team, like Minnesota was in 2002.
Maine senior forward Greg Moore:
“We’ve had a history of playing the home team in the NCAA Tournament. We’re fine with that, and excited about the opportunity and the atmosphere that it’s going to bring to the game tomorrow night. It’s a great opportunity to be in the Frozen Four again – our team is happy about the way we’ve been playing lately, and we’re proud of how far we’ve come. Our goal is to win a national championship, so we’re looking forward to getting on the ice…it should be a hard-fought game and we’re looking forward to it.”
Maine senior defenseman Steve Mullin:
“Playing the home team brings that much more emotion to the game. It’s going to be a great thing to be part of and hopefully we’ll play well.”
Maine head coach Tim Whitehead, when asked if Wisconsin would be under more pressure playing at home:
“I don’t know. That’s something they have to address themselves. As far as Maine goes, we came here to do something special and we have the opportunity to do that. We know this will be a challenge and they will have a huge home ice advantage.”
Wisconsin senior forward Adam Burish:
“I don’t think it’s pressure — it’s excitement. We’re excited to be here in Milwaukee. All year you reporters have asked, ‘Wouldn’t it be special to be here?’ Yeah, it’s special. It’s unbelievable. This is the ultimate stage of college hockey. We’re excited.”
Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves:
“We’ve had the opportunity to play a lot of big games in the state of Wisconsin already this year. We played the Frozen Tundra game at Lambeau Field and in the regional. We were part of an epic college hockey game in the Green Bay regional final. Here we are one more time in the state and we have to opportunity to do something very special here.”
As the final press conference concludes, the players wrap things up and head back to their hotels, while the press file their stories.
When we’re done, I’ll lug back the 14 media guides available in the press area. A little light reading…about 8 inches worth.