Notre Dame Feels Prepared to Battle BC
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
DENVER After the exhilaration of Friday's win over Michigan, it was right back to work for Jeff Jackson and his staff, as it looks for an edge against Boston College.
"After having a bite to eat the whole coaching staff was (examining BC)," said Jackson. "I am fortunate to have a tremendous staff. I knew that when we brought in Paul Pooley, and keeping Andy Slaggert. It boils down to the coaching staff. Everyone on our staff is committed to helping these guys be successful, whether that is on the ice, in the classroom, whatever."
The staff seems to have the answers already. Notre Dame has beaten Boston College in the regular season two times in the last three years, including a 7-1 pounding in Chestnut Hill at the beginning of the 2006-07 season. And last year, prior to the Michigan State-BC championship game, Jackson evaluated the contest for CHN and presented a road map for success for the heavy underdog Spartans.
Whether that be as defensive-oriented as some believe, remains to be seen, however.
"We're trying to emulate teams like Boston College and Michigan," Jackson said. "We want to play an up-tempo style. We're a good defensive team and we will be a good defensive team as long as I'm coaching. I always believe that offensive comes from defense. We're also about puck possession. To possess the puck is the best defense of all. If you can cycle the puck and control the puck through the neutral zone, the terminology now is puck management. You try to combine that with having a good defensive game so you can establish your offense from your transitional game."
Stopping Nathan Gerbe will, of course, be of prime concern. Notre Dame shut down Kevin Porter in the semis, but linemate Chad Kolarik had a pair of goals. And Gerbe had three in his semifinal.
"He competes as hard as anybody," said Jackson of Gerbe. "I look at it no different than (MSU's Tim) Kennedy a few weeks back, top players at UNH a few weeks back, or Kolarik and Porter from last night. It's not a matter of shutting down one player, it's about playing as a team against the other team's top players. We don't shadow people; we don't do anything different than on a nightly basis."
Part of the two-way responsibilities falls on the likes of Christian Hanson, who tweaked his knee during the semifinal, came out then back into the lineup, then got hurt again in overtime.
"It's a little sore today, but I feel ready to go tomorrow," Hanson said.
One thing Notre Dame will have to contend with is not having been here before. There's an excitement level when things are this fresh that you have to work to temper.
"It was actually pretty tough (getting to sleep), we were pretty excited," said Notre Dame sophomore defenseman Kyle Lawson. "It was a pretty big win for us. We've been through a lot the second half of this season and it was good to get some redemption. Yesterday was yesterday, and we've got a lot of work to do because Boston College is a great team. I think I finally fell asleep about 2:00."
Of course, Jackson has been on this stage many times before, and so again, it comes back to him.
"We could be here all afternoon talking about the things that coach does differently," Lawson said. "He's a great coach, but the greatest thing is attention to the small details. I think if you ask him, he'd give all the credit to Coach Pooley, he's in charge of our penalty kill."
Said Hanson, "I've never played for a coach who is more dedicated to the game of hockey."
One thing Notre Dame definitely must keep in mind, too, is not getting carried away with those regular-season wins against the Eagles. It seems like teams learn that about BC every year in the NCAAs, but the lessons don't carry over. Just ask North Dakota.
"I think it's a completely different team from last year," said Notre Dame forward Kevin Deeth. "They play an up-tempo, fast team, skilled — just like Michigan. The way their system compliments our system, I think it's going to be a good game. We play more of a defensive style, but at the same time our scoring is starting to come around. I think we just have to make sure we shut down their big guns, limit their time and space and we'll be fine."