Brad Frost talks transfers, Olympics and upcoming season

The women’s hockey head coach looks to instill tenacity and work ethic in his team.

Max Sanders

As the Gophers womenâÄôs hockey team gets ready for the 2009-10 season, Minnesota womenâÄôs head coach Brad Frost took time to sit down and talk about the past season, the transfer of the Lamoureux twins, the Olympics and the upcoming season. Last year was your first year as the official head coach of the Gophers. The year before, you were the interim head coach. How did your expectations of being a head coach match up with the reality of the job? ItâÄôs just a continual growth process, just like it is for our players. For me as a coach, this will be my 10th season, but only my third year as a head coach. My interim year as a head coach, we had a great year, but I didnâÄôt really know what the future held âÄî as to whether I would be back or not. I think I made some good strides, as our team did, and I think IâÄôll be a better coach this year than I was last year and continue to learn from those things. Can you just talk about last season? A dominant regular season, only three losses, and in the postseason you were cruising, outscoring opponents 16-4 before the game against Wisconsin [in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Championship Game]. What do you think happened in the Wisconsin game? Was it a just huge jump in talent that you were facing? I think certainly the talent level jumped, as Wisconsin proved they were the best team in the country last year. Finishing as the [No. 1] seed, we faced the [No. 8] seed to begin with, and obviously had some good success in that first round and then in the semifinals. We did some things that really hurt us, that game against Wisconsin. We were very undisciplined and made some mental mistakes that we hadnâÄôt been making up to that point. Credit Wisconsin for a lot of that, but we certainly didnâÄôt play our best. Last year you brought in one of the top recruiting classes in the country. It was announced earlier in the offseason that the Lamoureux twins were seeking a transfer to the University of North Dakota. Was that something you knew they were considering? I didnâÄôt know at all about it. They were in my office before they went back home for the summer, and it seemed like everything was fine, and 10 days later [I] got a phone call saying that they wanted to transfer. Obviously it kind of took me by surprise, but theyâÄôre great players and theyâÄôll certainly help out Team U.S.A. this year and North Dakota in years to come. WeâÄôve moved on and are excited about the kids we have back, and our team this year. Melanie [Gagnon] and Monique [Lamoureux] were the two All-Americans. Now they, along with Gigi [Marvin] and Jocelyn [Lamoureux] are gone. ThatâÄôs a significant portion of scoring. Who are you counting on this year to fill in the scoring gap left by those departures? Emily West is a junior for us, and somebody that weâÄôll rely on pretty heavily. [Senior] Brittany Francis is another player who has some great goal scoring touch. There are some players that need to take some strides for us this year. Kelli Blankenship, whoâÄôs a senior, is going to need to put the puck in the net more. Really, when you look at last year, we had the top four or five scorers and then there was a dip. This year, itâÄôs going to have to be a team effort and everybodyâÄôs going to have to contribute. Last year you played the freshmen a lot, obviously because Jocelyn and Monique had such outstanding seasons. Is that something you think is going to happen this year? Are you going to play freshmen as much, or maybe try to work them in a little more? It just depends on how they react to the speed of the game, and the physicality of the game. College hockey is a lot different than high school hockey, and quite frankly, we donâÄôt have a ton of depth this year. We have 21 players total with three goalies. EverybodyâÄôs going to be put in some spots that they havenâÄôt been in the past. Both from our freshmen as well as our returners. WeâÄôll see how that plays out, but the best players are going to play. Can you talk a little bit about the goalie position? I think itâÄôs fair to say itâÄôs one of your strongest positions. With the team experiencing quite a bit of turnover, how vital is it to have steadiness at the goaltending position? ThatâÄôs going to be the biggest position for us this year. We know that weâÄôre not going to score as many goals as we did last year. Hopefully weâÄôll score more timely goals. Our goaltending from the back end is going to have to be incredibly solid all year for us, and we would expect it to be with the three goalies that are going to be battling it out for the spot. This is an Olympic year. Do you think that actually benefits you because you lost a lot of players, but it also evens out the playing field because other top teams and other teams in the conference lose players to the Olympic Games as well? I think other top teams lose players, and so weâÄôre not affected any more than Duluth or Wisconsin, but the other teams in our league arenâÄôt losing people, for the most part, and theyâÄôre getting better and better, so it gives them a real opportunity to make a name for themselves. We know that theyâÄôre going to be just as hungry this year as any other year to try and crack the Top 3, which I think is the goal of any of the teams in our conference. YouâÄôve talked in interviews past about the WCHA [conference] being more wide open now than itâÄôs ever been. Can you talk about how that affects your game plan, knowing that you donâÄôt have to plan just for Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin, but all the other four teams? To be honest, it doesnâÄôt change our approach any. It doesnâÄôt matter how skilled our team is, or who we have on our team, or anything like that. We always prepare the same for our opponents, and itâÄôs been proven here in recent years that any team can beat any team. Some teams who maybe havenâÄôt beaten us over a long stretch have beaten us over the last few years, and some have beaten Wisconsin and some have beaten Duluth. Nobody thinks that weâÄôre just going to walk into a game and walk over our opponent. Those days are long gone. Last year your team finished with just three regular season losses. What are your expectations for the team this year? That we would play our best every game, that we would be extremely hard to play against because of our work ethic and our tenacity, and that we would improve each and every game as well so that weâÄôre playing our best hockey at the end of the year.