This weekend is the NCAA Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minnesota. Leading up to this weekend's events, we're chatting with one player from each of the teams involved. Look for interviews through Thursday. Today, it's T.J. Tynan of the University of Notre Dame.
You'd think that all four of the teams that are in this week's Frozen Four have relied heavily on their upperclassmen to carry them through the college hockey season and grind their way to the point where two more victories will equal a national championship.
But not Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish lineup is dominated with underclassmen, featuring 12 freshmen and just five seniors.
One of those dozen freshmen is center T.J. Tynan, who wasn't planning on joining the Irish this season until Kyle Palmieri signed with the Anaheim Ducks over the summer. After spending last year with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, Tynan stepped in and was the team's leading scorer with 53 points and finished second on the in goals with 22. Tynan's 53 points are the most by any Notre Dame player since the 1989-90 season.
At the team's awards banquet over the weekend, Tynan was named the Notre Dame Monogram Club's team MVP, as well as the offensive player of the year and one of the two rookies of the year. He was also given CCHA rookie of the year honors.
As Notre Dame gets ready for their matchup with Minnesota-Duluth on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, we spoke with Tynan last week about his outstanding freshman campaign, his year in the USHL and whether or not he had the Irish men's basketball team in his Final Four bracket. Enjoy.
Q. How crazy is life at Notre Dame on football Saturdays during the fall?
TYNAN: Yeah, they're pretty nuts. Everyone gets up for it. I think every student is usually there.
Ah, not too well.
What did you learn in that final year playing for the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL that you took with you to Notre Dame?
I think I learned a lot. Being away from home the first year you learn a lot about yourself and about how to act and live. It really prepared me to come to college and live on my own and play hockey and focus on school.
There's a ton of underclassmen on the squad, including yourself. What have you learned from the few upperclassmen that have strengthened the team this season?
It's just everyday working with us; whether it be with school or off the ice or on the ice. They just do a great job bringing us all together. Our team has great team unity and team chemistry. They've done a great job all year just making us feel welcome.
You've started to make a name for yourself this season and opposing teams are keying on you and gameplan against you. What adjustments have you had to make as the year's gone on?
I think just keeping it simple. When you get better players and the other team's top defensemen playing against you, it's obviously going to be tough to get some offense going. But keeping it simple, getting it in the corners and using my linemates.
What kind of season did you expect to have for yourself this being your freshman season?
I didn't really know what to expect. I just wanted to be in the lineup every night coming in. I came in pretty late, so I didn't know what to expect. You've just got to give 110-percent everyday and see what happens.
You lost both games in the CCHA Tournament, but rebounded and won two in a row. What did the team take out of those losses that has brought them now to the Frozen Four?
Well, you just kind of move on from them. We didn't play well that weekend, but we knew how good we were as a team. So after we lost those two games, they didn't really matter coming into the NCAA tournament, so we said forget about them and just move on and hopefully we success in the tournament, so it worked out well.
Last one: be honest, did you have the Notre Dame men's basketball team in your Final Four bracket?
I don't really remember my brackets. They're terrible, so I haven't looked in a while. They were either in the Final Four or right there.
Coming up tomorrow: Jack Connolly of Minnesota-Duluth