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NCAA MEN'S FROZEN FOUR

April 5, 2018

Tony Calderone Dexter Dancs Mel Pearson

St. Paul, Minnesota

Notre Dame - 4, Michigan - 3

MODERATOR: We'll start with some opening thoughts from Coach Pearson and then take your questions for the players.

COACH PEARSON: I just want to take a moment to congratulate Notre Dame, Jeff Jackson and their staff and their team. They did a great job all year and I wish them all the best.

Having said that, I'm extremely proud of our team, especially our seniors. I thought as the game wore on there we were starting to play. We finally started to play. And unfortunately it was just a bad bounce there at the end.

But it's good to be back here. Michigan will be back here again. And my only regret is I don't have more time with the seniors. The seniors have been outstanding for us this year. And I wish I had them back for another few years.

So, again, congrats to Notre Dame.

MODERATOR: Questions for the players.

Q. Tony, you get that two-goal lead. There's an adage a two-goal lead is the worst in hockey. Was there any kind of sense you relaxed a little bit after that. Seemed like Notre Dame roared back into the game right at that point?
TONY CALDERONE: I don't know. I think our game plan was to keep them off the power play. And we gave them a power play and they were able to score on it. So I don't know, they played really well throughout the whole thing. I can't say we relaxed too much. They made some big plays and more power to them.

Q. Dexter, was that maybe the goofiest goal you've ever scored?
DEXTER DANCS: Yeah, Coach Muckalt always says put pucks in the net. I don't know what it went off of. I was just trying to get a shot through the defensemen. And it went in. Luckily it went in, yeah.

Q. Dexter, obviously emotions run high at a point like this. Can you just try to capture the emotions of losing a game with four seconds left?
DEXTER DANCS: Yeah, obviously it's heartbreaking. I think coming into this season we didn't have a strong year last year. There wasn't -- a lot of people didn't believe in us. But this team, everyone was so close and we had so much fun. We didn't have the most talent. It wasn't the most talented team I've had here in four years but it was the best team and we just loved being around each other. And to make this run my senior year, me and Tony, we've been having so much fun playing hockey and to see it end like that is obviously tough. They're a great team. And they've been great all year and hats off to them.

Q. What do you think it says about the team that Michael is the one to score that goal in the third?
TONY CALDERONE: I think it shows our depth. I think a lot of people when they talk about us, talk about how we lacked that depth. But the goal coming from like Pastujov like that, just shows that; they've done it multiple times this year in the second half of the year we had all four lines going. And that's what got us going. So I think we were a deep team this year.

Q. Coach Pearson talked about he regrets only having one year. What was this year like with a new coach for the final season?
TONY CALDERONE: Honestly, I think it might have been my favorite year of hockey in my life. I think being announced captain just being a senior and getting to see some of these younger guys was truly special. Like Dexter said we had so much fun this year on and off the ice, never a dull day coming to the rink. I want to thank Coach Pearson for that and the guys in that room, I think, we're life long friends and we'll have each other forever.

DEXTER DANCS: I'd just like to add that we had an outstanding year with Coach Pearson. I think there's always a little bit of a worry when you get a new coach but Coach Pearson came in and it's easy for new coaches to come in and play the young guys and get things going. But Coach Pearson was so good to us seniors and I just want to let you know coach we really appreciated it, for everything you've done for us.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. What did you see on the last goal by Notre Dame and were you aware that coming into this game Notre Dame had won games late in the last minute?
COACH PEARSON: Yeah, your second part, yes, we did. We realized they beat Michigan Tech in overtime. Scored late against Providence to win I think 20 something seconds left.

Last goal we weren't too concerned. It was a basic 2 on 2 and I give them credit. They made a good play. They drove wide and just threw it across the crease and they were able to get a stick on it. And tough way to lose. It's never easy to lose. I don't know if there's any easy way to lose. But good play by them. But from the bench it didn't look like it was going to amount to much. I thought we were going into overtime.

Q. What do you think, you talked about what your seniors have meant to this program. You want to just talk about the legacy that they've left for Michigan hockey and kind of what they've meant just throughout the year and how they've kind of helped the young guys develop?
COACH PEARSON: They've been tremendous to our young players in that locker room. One of our freshmen stood up and thanked the seniors for taking them under their wing and accepting them. And our seniors have been really good this year. They've given us everything they have. And that's all we ask of our players, just give us everything you have. Nothing more, nothing less. The seniors are not only good hockey players, they're tremendous people, good students. They represent Michigan in the right way. And I'm very proud of those guys.

Q. This being your fifth time seeing them, what was your game plan going in, how did it adjust I guess from your regular season tries against them and what did you see at the start of the game in terms of execution and what changed as the game went on?
COACH PEARSON: We just wanted to basically do what we had last time. Get a lead, kill penalties, not take many penalties, which we didn't this game. And then we wanted to try to put a lot of pressure on their defensemen. I don't think we did that until in the last 15 minutes. Once they got the 3-2 lead I don't know if they sat back or we just kicked it into another gear. But that was our best period, even though we lost the period 2-1. It's probably our best period. We outattempted them 25-7. Outchanced them. They just put the one or two they needed to put in. But the game plan didn't change much. And I thought we did not execute it the first two periods. We started to once we finally got behind. We didn't play with a lead very well tonight. Once we got behind you saw the desperation that we needed to play with right from the start. But credit them. Part of that's them, too. They're a good team.

Q. Your penalty kill has been kind of the Achilles' heel of the team almost all season long. Was giving up that power play goal to maybe let Notre Dame back into the game, was that maybe a case of it finally catching up with you or can you just comment on the P.K.s?
COACH PEARSON: No, we've been much better lately. We've been much better lately and even on that play Piazza blocked a shot. He couldn't get up. He went down. We had to recover because he's down on the ice and that opened some things up.

They had a seeing-eye shot there but I thought we did a great job on the first one. 20 some seconds into the game, not how you want to start. And we killed the penalty. And they only had two power plays in the game.

But I give our guys credit. They've been battling that all year. We've got to get better at that next year. There's no doubt about it. And we will.

Q. Obviously a tough loss with three teams here from the same league. What does that say just about the strength of that conference?
COACH PEARSON: The Big Ten's here, here to stay. Great coaches. Great players. It's going to be a tough league year after year and it goes to show you, we could have had five teams in the tournament this year. We got four. One thing the Big Ten has done that I found in my first year is that it prepares you for anything, for any opponent you're going to see. You're not going to see many opponents better than we had in the Big Ten this year and the depth we had.

So I think this is what everybody expected when the Big Ten was formed and it's only going to get better.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

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