Friday, August 20, 2010

Q&A with Matt Gilroy

Second in a series of Q&A interviews with former Terriers who debuted in the NHL last season. Brandon Yip Q&A-8/3/10

The storybook path that took Matt Gilroy from a walk-on freshman in Sept. 2005 to three-time All-American, Hobey Baker Award winner in 2009 and captain of BU’s “miracle comeback” National Champions the same year has gained instant legend status with Terrier fans. Just days after the dramatics in D.C., Gilroy signed a multi-year contract with the New York Rangers, enabling him to begin his pro career in Madison Square Garden where his father, Frank, had played basketball for St. John’s.

Gilroy immediately earned a spot in the Blueshirts’ lineup and played 69 games, with a 4-11-5 scoring line. Currently preparing for Rangers’ training camp, Gilroy talked with us about his rookie season in the NHL.

Q If you had to give yourself a grade on your rookie pro season, what would it be?
A. It was a great experience. It was a good first year, but as for a grade, I don't think about hockey like that.

Q. What did you learn during the season that you'd wished you knew about while at BU?
A. Nothing. College and pro are very different learning experiences. While at BU I did not think about what the NHL was like; I concentrated on being at BU. I would not change anything [from my time] at BU.

Q. Was your brief demotion to Hartford a disappointment or a challenge-or both?
A. Being demoted to Hartford is part of playing professional hockey, so it was neither a disappointment nor a challenge rather part of the process.

Q. Obviously the Ranger's just falling short of the playoffs was disappointing, but can you think of a few personal highlights? Perhaps the goal scored against Martin Brodeur?
A. Let's see.....for me, the first game in Madison Square Garden, first game back in Boston, and playing against Yipper and Colin.

Q. Compare the coaching styles of John Tortorella and Jack Parker.
A. Both are intense, but very different. The pro game is much different than college.

Q. What role does former BU Capt. Mike Sullivan play as Ranger's assistant? Which Coach focuses on defense?
A. Mike Sullivan is the defensive coach for the Rangers

Q. What is the best part about playing with Chris Drury?
A. Chris is a quality guy on and off the ice. His work ethic is contagious.

Q. Were the physical demands of an 80 game season what you expected? Did 4 years with Mike Boyle prepare you physically for the NHL?
A. Mike Boyle does a great job! I expected the NHL to be different than college. The NHL season is very long and wears on you physically and mentally.

Q. Are there any NHL rules you d like to see the NCAA adopt and why?
A. None that I can think of right now.

Q. Any interesting experiences on the ice with former BU teammates?
A. Playing against Colin and Brandon was great. Colin and I went back and forth on the ice. When the Rangers played the Avalanche in Denver Steve Smolinsky and his Dad came out to watch Yip and I. It was alot of fun.

Q. Was your first vist to the Verizon Center in D.C. a special moment or just another game?
A. Going back to that building will always be special to me, to anyone who was on the team, and to anyone who attended those games.

Q. Finally have you watched the entire 2009 National Championship game on DVD since that weekend in D.C.? Do the events of the third period and overtime still seem "unreal," as you told the media after the game?
A. I have not watched the video. For me it was a once-in-a-lifetime game and experience. My family and friends have watched it. They all tell me that even though they know the outcome they still go through the same emotions as they did sitting there at the Championship game in D.C. When I think about that game ...yes, it was unreal!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Q&A with Brandon Yip

First in a series of Q&A interviews with former Terriers who debuted in the NHL last season.

After winning an NCAA championship, former Terrier wing Brandon Yip didn’t head for DisneyWorld, but set sights on the NHL. And he got there in just a few months, following recovery from a hand injury suffered at Avalanche training camp injury and a six-game AHL pit stop. Once in a Colorado sweater, Yip did the same thing he did as a Terrier: play physical hockey and find the back of the net. Limited to 32 regular season games, he put up an 11-8-19 line and led all NHL rookies in goals per game. Following the season, he signed a new two-year contract with Colorado.

Yip is the only player to score the game-winning goal in two Hockey East Championship games (2006, 2009), tallied 108 points during his Terrier career, which concluded with BU’s comeback win in the 2009 NCAA championship game win against Miami, 4-3, OT.

Q. Where have you been spending the offseason?
A. I have been spending my offseason in Boston for the most part. I am still training with Mike Boyle in Winchester. I also go back to Vancouver for a few weeks at a time to visit my family and friends.

Q. What did you learn at BU, on or off the ice, that has benefitted you in having a successful first season with Colorado?
A. I think the most beneficial attribute that I learned from BU and took to Colorado was “work ethic.” Coach Parker really stressed a good work ethic during practice and in summer training. Working hard really does pay off and I have learned that thus far.

Q. Besides those bookend game-winners in the 2006 and 2009 Hockey East title games and the NCAA win, are there a few other games in your BU career that stand out?
A. Well the obvious one, the NCAA championship, is definitely the highlight of my career. I can’t remember every goal clearly I have scored, but I always remember the ones against BC--haha.

Q. Do you feel that staying the full 4 years helped you get ready for the NHL and allowed you to spend minimal time in the minors?
A. Absolutely, staying four years at BU was tp my advantage for sure. It gave me four years to get physically stronger and it helped shape my game to what it is now. I learned a lot on and off the ice.

Q. All three members of your senior year line have already seen NHL action. That’s not a common occurrence. Can you tell us a little about what made Bonino, McCarthy and you work so well together?
A. I think we all just brought our best attributes to the line and it seemed to jell pretty well. We complemented each other in different ways, but working hard for each other was our common denominator. Both Johnny and Nicky are great players and are going to continue to have great success wherever they play.

Q. Do you wear your NCAA championship ring or have it locked away?
A. I actually gave it to my dad to hold on for me. He has always been there for me and I thought it would be pretty cool if he kept it for me.

Q. At what point in your hockey career did you begin to believe that the NHL was an attainable goal for you?
A. I think it was when I got drafted back while playing juniors. I never thought I was going to be drafted, but when I did, it made me really think that maybe I could make it one day.

Q. You are a bit older than some of the other rookies in last year’s Avs “youth corps”(Matt Duchene, T.J. Galiardi and Ryan O'Reilly). How do you explain so many first-year and second-year players performing so well ? Was it Joe Sacco’s system?
A. Joe did a very good job in working with everyone, but really gave the rookies a lot of responsibility and held us just as accountable as the older veterans. So I think that helped us out a lot, maturing wise. I also think the veterans did a good job in leading us in the right
direction and giving some great advice as the season went on.

Q. Your top NHL thrill thus far?
A. My first goal. I will never forget it.

Q. What aspects of your game are you looking to improve on next season? What are your personal goals for the coming year?
A. I’m looking to improve all parts of my game, but focusing on getting faster and keeping up a fast pace throughout the entire game. Training during this offseason is going to be key.

Q. Just as you were at BU, you’ve become a fan favorite in Denver. How do you explain that?
A. I have no idea. I just like to play the game and I enjoy meeting new people along the way. Maybe the last name catches people's attention… who knows?

Q. Bernie Corbett pointed out during a BU broadcast that you were especially productive in games when your parents were at the game –whether in Boston or at the Denver Cup. Can you explain that? Did the pattern continue when they attended your NHL games?
A. Yeah I love it when my parents can make it to the games. Being in Boston, it was pretty far away from Vancouver, so my parents were limited in seeing most of my games. They would always listen or watch on the Internet, but when they were physically there, its always special. They are the biggest reasons for my success thus far, so I always try and give them a thrill when they come.

Q. You’re not the first NHL player to emerge from Maple Ridge? Who are some of the others?
A. Yeah, we have a lot of athletes come from our town: Cam Neely, Brenden Morrison, Andrew Ladd, Greg Moore, Larry Walker, and many others. Maple Ridge is a great community and we take a lot of pride in our sports.

Q. As training camp approaches, have you been thinking about the prospect of having a couple of former BU teammates—Kevin Shattenkirk, Colby Cohen, Zach Cohen, Dave VanderGulik—join you as an Av?
A. Yeah I think it is pretty cool that we have a strong BU connection in Colorado. I think that says a lot about the program at BU. Can’t wait to see all the boys soon.