Quotables On the Eve of a Title Run
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. Dartmouth. Colgate. Cornell. Harvard. Come Saturday night, one of these ECAC powerhouses will skate the treasured Whitelaw trophy around Albany's Pepsi Arena in celebration. The other three will have to settle for trying again next year. Some of the teams will move on to the NCAA tournament. For others, the season will end.
But for now, it appears, it's all about having fun.
"For us, to get here, the pressure's off now," said Mike Schafer, head coach of the defending ECAC champions, Cornell. "We can really really enjoy ourselves for the first time this year. It's a different kind of pressure."
On Thursday, all four teams practiced and then spoke with the media. Among the topics discussed are two aspects that become very important during the playoffs — sound leadership and solid goaltending. And finally, there were the quotes of the day.
Aye Aye, Captain
Harvard coach Ted Donato, on Crimson captain Peter Hafner, who this season solidified the Harvard blue line and scored a memorable game-winner at Cornell for the Ivy League championship: "Peter Hafner has been good since the day he walked in the door here. Last season, he had a great season for us, and I expected it to happen again. We expected him to be really good. Our senior class had a season that they can really be proud of. They've led our team both on and off the ice."
Cornell captain and All-American Matt Moulson, who moved into the top ten on the all-time Cornell scoring list this season, on what he needs to do to be successful: "Sometimes I focus too much on my scoring and it takes away from my game. I've just got to get my feet moving out there, and create chances for myself and the other guys on my line. Get in the corners, finish my hits — all the typical things a leader on the ice does. I just have to get in there and create havoc but also play solid defensively."
Colgate coach Don Vaughan's high praise of Raiders captain Jon Smyth: "Jon's been one of the best captains we've ever had at Colgate. He's the epitome of a student athlete. He's involved in the community in a lot different ways. He's an RA. And then at the rink, a lot of the younger guys really look up to him. He's a calming factor a lot of nights. I get pretty fired up, and John's got that demeanor about him, as a good captain should, where he can calm the bench down regardless of the situation. I think that's a great quality."
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, on the Big Green's leaders: "Mike Ouellette, Tanner Glass, and Garrett Overlock represent our leadership, our captains. The older guys on the team have really done a great job, but these guys have been the glue of our team. We had a tough start, but the older guys on the team kept the team together. Our leadership has been outstanding."
Behind The Masks
Donato, on his senior goaltender John Daigneau, who stepped in this season after Dov-Grumet Morris — who led the Crimson to four straight ECAC title games — graduated last season: "Coming into the season, I think there was certainly some indecision as to where our goaltending situation was going to be like, with Dov having played in so much action. We felt comfortable and confident that John had the talent to step in. It's been a situation where it's been nice to watch his confidence grow. He's played his best in big games for us. He did all the little things, training-wise, to give himself the best opportunity to not only be successful for himself but to make our team more solid in the net. He's had a great season. I don't think the coaching staff is surprised."
Cornell goaltender and last year's Hobey finalist David McKee (the only goaltender of the four teams in Albany this weekend who has started an ECAC Final Four game), on what he needed to do this season to be successful: "I tried not to look at the numbers this year. It was more about just winning games. Coach told me at the beginning of the year that a goalie's job is to make key saves in the game and maybe change a momentum swing here and there. So I just tried to do that."
Vaughan, on his sophomore goaltender Mark Dekanich, winner of the Ken Dryden award this year for ECAC Goaltender of the Year: "Mark's had an unbelievable year for us. He's been a big part of our success and a big part of the reason we're here this weekend. He came in prepared. He was in great shape physically and mentally and he learned a lot last year watching Steve. He took the bull by the horns right out of the gate this year."
Gaudet, on Dartmouth goaltender Mike Devine, who went 17-7-2 with a 2.16 goals-against average this season: "Mike has been outstanding. When he got an opportunity, he made good by it. He's a very athletic kid, real competitive, and he's one of those guys that makes the key saves, but hey also makes some huge saves. He steals a few every game. He's playing with a lot of confidence, and he's really been a stabilizing part of our team."
Quotes of the Day
"Coaching." — Ted Donato's deadpan response when asked why the same teams get to Albany year after year.
"Miracles in March happen, in basketball and in hockey." — Mike Schafer, who also referenced the then-ongoing Pacific/Boston College NCAA basketball game.
"We've all been playing hockey since we were pretty young. I've got a little brother coming up too, so hopefully he'll be at Cornell soon." — Matt Moulson, whose sister plays for Niagara, stealing a hopeful glance at coach Schafer.
"Uh, I hope so." — Moulson, on whether or not Cornell's jerseys are with them this time (The Big Red accidentally left their jerseys in Ithaca when they traveled to Colgate early last Month).
"A few weird questions about jerseys and asking me if I could send socks to people and things like that. But, on the whole, nothing too far out of the ordinary." — Jon Smyth, discussing his public blog this season.
"We had to screen the Cornell fans." — Don Vaughan, who actually was probably not joking.
"There's nothing wrong with that! We've got a lot of green. Too bad we're wearing the whites tomorrow." — Bob Gaudet, on his Big Green team playing on St. Patrick's Day tomorrow.