The Irish Icers season was starting to look a lot like last year. They came into January with a 14-4-0 record then won only two games the rest of the month. But unlike the previous season where they went 7-12-0 after the new year and missed the NCAA tournament, this team bounced back. They registered at least a point in 12 of their final 14 games. Head Coach Jeff Jackson says it came down to leadership.
"I think the chemistry of the group and also our leadership when we had the tough times in January our team responded in a positive way. I could sense we were going to come out of it."
Senior defensemen Sam Calabrese also felt the change came from within the locker room.
"Our team sticking together has been the biggest change since January. Last year we hit a rough patch and the locker room fell a part a little bit. This year everyone stuck together and worked really hard.
Now they have a top seed in the NCAA tournament and are preparing for a dangerous St. Cloud State University in the opening round. Junior defensemen Stephen Johns knows just how dangerous they are.
"I think we have to play to our strengths and play as a unit. We have to shut down that top line we understand that. Its going to be a whole team effort. Hopefully our depth out plays their depth. Hopefully we can come out on top on Saturday."
With last year in the rear view and a Frozen Four appearance in Pittsburgh on the horizon Coach Jackson is only focused on one thing.
"We have to get past Saturday to even think about taking that next step. Id rather focus on the process of thinking about Saturday and not worrying so much about Pittsburgh."