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USCHO and the rest of the college hockey world are converging on Milwaukee. What started as a trickle of folks at the Bradley Center at noon has turned into quite a crowd. We’ll all here for the practices and press conferences.

presser.jpgEach of the four teams takes the ice for an hour and fifteen minutes, then spends some quality time with the press. The BC presser is sparcely attended as the press are still arriving. My favorite quote from the BC press conference is coach Jerry York’s response to a question concerning a possible distraction to the team with Chris Collins in the running for the Hobey:

“Chris was terrific. He had mentioned he had heard Brian Gionta talk a number of years ago about, ‘I’m going to Albany to win one trophy.’ And I think he’s got that mindset. He’s brought that up to the players…we would love to see Chris win the Hobey. But he said, ‘I would like to win one trophy, and the one trophy is the NCAA trophy.”

After that it’s time to take in a little practice. North Dakota is on the ice, going through drills for what they hope won’t be the last time this season. The Sioux look relaxed, but all business. If they win, they’ll practice Friday morning in front of several hundred fans looking for something to do on the off day. But on Wednesday, the barn is empty except for a few bored media types who are sitting in the seats chatting and killing time until the Sioux come off the ice and face the cameras and tape recorders.

A sampling:

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“It’s really cool (being here). I grew up in a small town. You always watch stuff like this, the big events on TV and to be part of it two years in a row; it’s a great feeling. With all the media hype and the fans…it’s a great ride.”

— North Dakota senior forward Mike Prpich

“This is obviously what you work for all year. We did have a young team at the beginning of the year, but I think, even now, you can’t really consider them young anymore and inexperienced because we went through the WCHA Final Five and also getting out of the regional. I mean, that’s more experience than a lot of guys can say they have.”

— North Dakota junior forward Drew Stafford.

“There certainly isn’t a change in philosophy. There is a different personality…we don’t have the have the same physical presence as last year, but that is because of the number of younger players we have on defense. We are emphasizing the same philosophy, though. We have more skill this year, but you still have to work hard and if you don’t, talent won’t make a difference.”

— North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol

Back later with highlights from Maine and Wisconsin.