Frozen Four - Minnesota Gopher and Boston College Women's Hockey Thursday Practice Press Conference Roundup

Video, pictures, and quick thoughts from the practices and press conferences.

General Thoughts

- The Gophers seem very focused on Boston College. The practice had it's light moments, but they were clearly there with a purpose too. The balance between the two was nice to see.

- Some of the media really can't hold back from asking the "greatest team ever questions." I do understand it, as you've all heard me mention it before. But does anyone really think Brad Frost is going to answer questions about how his team will be seen IF they win two more games the day before he plays the first of those games? C'mon now.

- I'd never been in Ridder Arena before, and it's a very nice facility.

- Boston College was in good spirits. I wasn't able to see their practice, but heard it was an upbeat and fun session.

- The Gopher media guide for the press includes the players Twitter handles. Nothing exciting, just took me by surprise. Now I'm wondering if any of the other sports are/will be doing this.

- Loved the moment in the presser (video below) where Noora and Coach Frost answered a light-hearted question about the coach's goal against Raty late in practice. Apparently it is something that unsurprisingly doesn't happen very often.

Gopher Practice Picture Gallery

NOTE: Unfortunately my gallery refuses to post. I've tried for over and hour now and nothing. I will update this post or get the gallery up as a separate post depending on when I can get it working. There are some cool action shots of Noora Raty being awesome that everyone should get to see. Apologies!

Gopher Post Practice Press Conference Clips

- Head coach Brad Frost's opening statement:

- Noora Raty on making the next game the focus and moving past triple OT:

- Amanda Kessel on whether the Gophers are looking forward to facing a team from outside the WCHA:

- Amanda Kessel on getting to play at home for the Frozen Four

- Noora Raty and Amanda Kessel on how all three Gopher Patty Kazmaier finalists are handling the honor:

- Brad Frost on why he thinks the Gophers are able to play so loose and confident:

- And in one of my personal favorites from the presser, Brad Frost on managing to score a goal against Noora at the end of practice:

- Minnesota also transcribed some the presser quotes in case you don't have time to watch all the videos:

Minnesota Head Coach Brad Frost
Opening statement...
"We're tremendously excited to be here to the Frozen Four, and naturally when you're hosting it, you want to make sure your team is here. As we all know, that was not an easy task last Saturday. Our team played well and found a way to win and have earned the right to be here now and face a very good Boston College team. We know a little bit about them, and know that they were one of the top, if not the top teams in the east throughout the year. It will be a very exciting game here at 5:00; we're really looking forward to it."

On Minnesota's accomplishment of going undefeated so far this season and whether they would be the best team of all time should they win the national title this year...
"I don't know. I guess we'll find out after tomorrow if we're still playing, and then we need to worry about the next game after that. We have a long way to go yet, so let's let it play out and see what happens."

On what amazes him about his team and their confidence level going into this tournament...
"Not once has this team had an off night this year. We may have had an off period or an off half period, but never an off night. Whenever they've been challenged, they've been up to the task. We talk a lot about the process of what it takes to win hockey games; we don't go into every game saying we have to win that game. I learned early on in my head coaching career that when you focus on the end result, it can cause a problem because then all we think about is winning. Frankly, the winning will take care of itself if we do the things that are necessary to win hockey games. This team is a loose group. They're confident, but not cocky. They're humble; I think you've seen that with these players."

On the business-like nature of today's practice session...
"That was standard for us. Our practice went a little longer today because we were doing more talking about certain situations. We're down to about 45 minutes to an hour here over the last few weeks. Tomorrow we'll run a drill or two, and then let the players have some fun on the ice."

On having experience winning a national title last season...
"I hope our team takes on the personality I have, a little more laid back, but still intense and ready to play. To get here is not an easy thing, so the fact that we're here, we want to enjoy that. When the puck drops tomorrow, we'll be ready to play. There's no doubt about that. I still think that a big part of our success this year is that we found success at the end of last year, so we have a blueprint on how to get there."

On Boston College's Alex Carpenter and Hayley Skarpua...
"Carpenter is definitely the engine that makes that team go; she's all over the puck all the time. The way she carries herself is very confident, and she's a threat every time she's on the ice. With Skarpua, the same thing. She's had a great freshman year. The thing about women's hockey is that it's a small world. We know these players from camps and recruiting and those types of things. While we haven't played them, we know their players and what they're about, and know their coaches very well. I would expect a very exciting game tomorrow."

On the increased attendance at games recently and the impact of the team's success on the local hockey scene...
"Our main fan base is young girls and their families, and it's been great to see them coming out to Ridder Arena. I can't express how exciting it's been to see the stands filled at home games, it's huge for girl's hockey locally and nationally."

Senior goaltender Noora Raty
On keeping the focus on the next game...
"After we beat North Dakota Saturday, we knew it was only going to get tough. No matter what people say, it's going to get tougher every game and we can't take them lightly. We have to come out flying and we can't make any excuses about playing three overtimes last weekend. It's 0-0 when the puck drops and we just have to play our best because Boston College is going to play their best."

On trying to avenge a 2011 Frozen Four loss to BC...
"Everybody knows that was probably the worst game in my career here, but that's in the past. I can't change that game and I don't think about that game anymore. I can't change the outcome, so I need to move forward and prove in the next year that I'm better than that."

Junior forward Amanda Kessel
On recovering from last week's three-overtime NCAA quarterfinal win over North Dakota...
"It definitely took a couple days. You'd wake up on Sunday and you'd feel like you got hit by a train. I don't think anyone was feeling great after those games."

On whether playoff hockey has been tougher and if the elevated level of competition has helped the team...
"I think that just prepared us for this weekend. Going into that game against North Dakota, I think we knew that it'd be tough and that they were going to throw everything they had at us. I think our team really responded and everyone played great--just too tough it out through three overtimes and push it out at the end."

On playing at home...
"We're playing at home and, personally, I think our team plays the best at home. Everyone's comfortable here, so to say that's not an advantage--that wouldn't be true. It's a huge advantage for us to be at home with our fans. I think it's like an extra player for us. I think it'll help everyone be more comfortable, especially our freshman that have never been here before."

Boston College Press Conference:

NOTE: Unfortunately I ran out of time to edit this video so I'm struggling to get it uploaded to YouTube because of it's length. I'm including some of the U's transcribed quotes from the presser and running with the U's clips instead. Apologies!

Head Coach Katie King Crowley
Opening statement...
"Our team is really excited to be back at the Frozen Four again, and we've had a great year, and we're excited to see what happens this weekend. I think our team is ready and we're excited to get started."

On Minnesota's accomplishment of going undefeated so far this season and whether they would be the best team of all time should they win the national title this year...
"There have been some tremendous teams throughout the history of the college game, from way back when until now. I think it's difficult to compare in that way, but what they've done so far this year is an incredible feat. It's something that's really tough to do, to come into the rink every day and be prepared like it seems they have. My hat is off to them, what they've done this season is special."

On the similar make up of the two teams and how well they match up...

"I think we are similar. I think it's going to be a great game tomorrow at 5:00. We're in a unique situation where we don't get to play each other very often, so these games are always fun and exciting. From what I've seen, I think we match up well against Minnesota, we are both pretty highly-skilled teams."

On getting back to the Frozen Four this...
"That's something we've talked about a lot this year. A lot of our players were here for last year's Frozen Four, and that's something that's been a goal of ours from the beginning of the year. We're excited, and we're ready to go."

On increased goal scoring this season and the impact of the freshman class, notably Hayley Skarupa...
"She's done a great job. Alex is right, we're a much deeper team than we were last year. We've had three and even four lines scoring at times, and scoring production from our defense as well. Hayley (Skarupa) has done a great job, putting pucks on when we needed them, she's scored some great goals."

On turning things around after a lapse earlier in the season...
"I think the kids really stepped up their game when they realized what's on the time. We had some games where we didn't play our best, and I think ultimately we're still a young team. They need to realize that every game is a big game. Toward the end of the season, we started to realize that. They really started to come together as a team."

Sophomore forward Alex Carpenter
On keeping up with Minnesota's success...
"I wouldn't say we check the scores because we are mainly worried about ourselves. We are aware of their record and how they have been doing this year, but our focus isn't on how they are doing. It is about us and how our team is doing every day at practice."

On the team's season thus far...
"I think we started off great and had a little lapse during the middle of the year, but we started to pick it up again. I think we are still climbing."

On how her role has changed from scoring goals to assisting on goals...
"I think a big reason for that is that is our freshmen class because we have more goal scorers this year. It has become more of a team effort this year, and last year we were more focused on defense."

Senior defenseman Blake Bolden
On keeping the defense sharp headed into games...
"We come to practice every day looking forward to shutting down our offense in practice, and hopefully, we can make that happen in a game."

On the game versus Minnesota in the 2011 NCAA Quarterfinals...
"I remember going into the game and not knowing what to expect at all. Obviously, the outcome was great, but I think during that game we worked really hard as a team to pull out the win. I can't say that it will happen again tomorrow, but I can only hope that we come ready to play tomorrow and see what happens."

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