TAMPA, Fla. -- Before Quinnipiac and North Dakota take the ice in the national championship, here are what the coaches and players had to say at the Frozen Four media day on Friday afternoon.
North Dakota coach Brad Berry on joining his alma mater staff in 2000: "First of all, very grateful for the opportunity, and there was a guy by the name of Dean Blais that asked me to come aboard. I was just coming off of pro hockey. The crossroads of life, what do you do after you play. And the phone call came in the late summer and I can still remember he said would you like to be part of my staff. And again I was just married, had two young children at the time and everything goes through your wife as far as decision-making process. This one didn't go through my wife. It took me about .5 seconds and I said, honey, we're going back to Grand Forks."Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold on how teams mirror each other: "I love the way North Dakota plays. I think Berry has done a phenomenal job getting his team prepared for each and every game. I don't know how many I've watched on TV. I watched a few and then saw them last night. They just go. They pressure.
"There are similarities. Certainly they have some high-end draft picks that we have to be aware of and some high-end skill guys. In the end, we have to do well what we do well. It's why we win. We're 42 games in here. And we play to our identity. If we do that, we get rewarded."
Soren Jonzzon on the unsung leaders of Quinnipiac: "The leadership on this team is unbelievable, whether guys have letters or not. The secondary leadership is out of this world. They make my job very easy. I think for the most part they make the coaching staff's job very easy. A guy like Tom Hilbrich, he's just a leader on this team. There's not doubt, when he says things, guys listen."
UND's Austin Poganski on making adjustments for Quinnipiac: "I don't know if there's too much there to adjust. I thought we played a pretty solid game all around with team effort. I think our speed improved. I don't think we got a lot of offensive zone time. I think that's key to North Dakota hockey, get more pucks deep and get after their defense right away. I think we'll improve our game a little bit for Saturday."
Jonzzon on lessons learned from last championship game in 2013: "You look at our freshman year. We played Yale four times that year and we won three of them, and unfortunately we lost the last one. So, I mean, it doesn't matter what's happened. It doesn't matter what the score their game against Denver was or our score against BC was. Nobody cares what happened yesterday. It's all about tomorrow. And I think as long as we're focused on that, we'll provide ourselves the opportunity to succeed."Devon Toews on the culture built by head coach Rand Pecknold: "I think as players what we want is to develop every year. And I think Rand gives us the best chance to do that. And coming to a winning program is something we always look at as players. Being juniors, we come to win the program. And Rand has built that here, which is awesome. That's why we're getting high-end recruits, I believe. And we love it because we have a chance to win every game, and he prepares us well for every single game, and that's all we can ask for as players."
Stecher on the comadarie between his teammates: "I don't really know where to start with this group. I think the biggest thing is everyone just buying into their role and putting their egos aside. Everyone checks their ego at the door. I think when everyone is recruited here -- players coming from juniors, they're probably the top guy and the one getting the points, but you come to North Dakota hockey, you immediately realize the program is bigger than any individual."
Pecknold on the evolution of the Quinnipiac program: "If you look at the early years of Atlantic Hockey -- or the MAC, sorry, no one would play us. It's so unbelievable to me. Like that first year of the MAC, we didn't play one game outside our league against the four major conferences. It is absolutely unbelievable that happened. And it did.
"Now all these new teams come in, everybody's like we'll play Arizona State. Everybody does. I do it too. But back then it was like all eight teams all went D-I at once. And I think the big boys were all kind of like what's going on here. You'd think somebody would get a game, and we couldn't get any games. It was crazy. To would think we would get at that stage, even in year five, no, we weren't at that point."