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NCAA tourney evokes happy memories

Wednesday, 03.24.2010 / 10:45 AM / On Campus

By Bob Snow - NHL.com Correspondent

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NCAA tourney evokes happy memories
The NCAA hockey tournament has produced some pleasant memories for a lot of NHL players.
The NCAA hockey tournament evokes good memories for players who have moved to the upper levels of pro hockey.

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz, a Ferris State alum, remembers guiding his team to the tournament in 2003.

"You need a hot goaltender, and ride on emotion," he offered as advice to the tourney upstarts last week before his Bulldogs had their postseason hopes dashed Sunday morning. "You need the best game out of everybody. Keep pushing forward; it doesn't matter who you are up against. The big thing is the big teams will keep coming at you in waves and waves. You need that goaltender to play really well."

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis led their No. 2-seed Vermont Catamounts to the 1996 Frozen Four before bowing out in the semifinal game.

"You need the best game out of everybody. Keep pushing forward; it doesn't matter who you are up against. The big thing is the big teams will keep coming at you in waves and waves. You need that goaltender to play really well."
-- Chris Kunitz

"We won the ECAC that year and didn't have to scramble up," said Thomas, whose alma mater was the last at-large team selected this year. "Whatever momentum you put together, the biggest thing is stay focused and just try to carry over that momentum. Just keep it; don't lose the excitement."

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik played in national championship games his only two seasons at Boston College, 2000 and '01. The Eagles won the national title in '01 with a 3-2 overtime victory against North Dakota.

"It's a unique tournament because of the single elimination," said Orpik, whose Eagles return to the tournament for the eighth time since 2000, including national titles in '01 and '08. "The biggest thing is just initiate being aggressive right from the start. If you sit back, you'll be down a couple goals. Deal with adversity; some teams have trouble with that."
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