“I don’t think a lot of people thought we were gonna be here except...the guys in the room."
That statement might sound familiar. That’s exactly how Michigan’s basketball team said they felt about making to the National Championship: like underdogs...Eager to prove the doubters wrong. It’s how the hockey team describes their spot in the Frozen Four.
"When coach Pearson came in he made it clear it’s not a rebuilding year. I mean we have loads of talent on this team," explains junior Dexter Dancs.
They do have a lot of talent, but it’s also their first year without coach Red Berenson.
“I knew what I was getting into coming back to Michigan, obviously you can see all the banners hanging in Yost [Arena]. I did work with Coach Berenson for 23 years, so I knew what was expected here. We expect big things here, we expect to compete for a national championship so I’m just happy we could put ourselves in a position to do that this year," says Coach Pearson.
Junior Tony Caldrone says Pearson and Berenson have a lot of similarities, and he’s not surprised Pearson has had so much success in his first year as head coach.
"He’s don’t a great job of establishing it’s not a rebuilding year, it’s nothing, we’re going for it, which is great to hear as a senior," says Calderone.
But before they can go for a national title they have to get through No. 2 Notre Dame
"The biggest thing with Notre Dame is to make sure that we play well with the puck, that we manage the game. I like the depth of our team against Notre Dame," says Coach Pearson
"The key is going to be getting pucks on net. Getting bodies in there, obviously they have a very good goaltender, one of the best in the nation, so obviously that’s going to be key, as well as rock solid defense," says Dancs.
Tonight's game will be a challenge, but Calderone says the team has every reason to feel confident.
"We've showed that we can play with anyone. We beat Notre Dame twice, they beat us twice, so it’s kind of a rubber match which will be kind of exciting... But ya, everyone is really excited going into Notre Dame.”
Puck drops for Michigan's semifinal game against Notre Dame at 9:30pm.