Nov. 14, 2007
Junior forward Brock Bradford had played in all 84 games of his career before breaking his arm in the season opener and being forced to contribute from the bench. Bradford registered 45 points on 19 goals and 26 assists last season and earned Most Valuable Player honors at the Hockey East Tournament. The Eagles (3-2-4, 2-1-3 HE) return to action on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at Massachusetts.
First off, can you take us back to the season opener against Michigan and describe how your injury occurred? What happened?
I remember getting the puck in the right corner. I just went to rim it around the boards and I saw the guy coming to hit me. After I threw the puck around the boards, he hit my left arm as it was going toward the glass. My stick was up a little bit and it got jammed in the seam of the glass. My hand was on my stick and it followed through and snapped my arm. Obviously, it wasn't dirty or anything. It was just a harmless play where I was in the wrong position where my arm got stuck. I knew it was broken right away. I could feel it pop and crack. That's why I thought I was holding a broken stick, but I wasn't. I skated right off the ice into the locker room. I skated right by the guy with the puck, but unfortunately I couldn't do anything about it.
In the month or so since your injury, what treatment have you received and what have you been doing to rehab your injury and stay in good physical condition?
I was pretty lucky to get such quick treatment with Dr. English. She performed surgery on it and put a plate with some screws in my arm. So I'm really thankful for the work she's done for me. I've had (our trainer) Bert Lenz work with me. Everyday, we're doing a little bit of rehab. Obviously, you have to wait and get x-rays every three weeks and it has to be healing before you can do more extensive therapy on it. It's just kind of a day-to-day process. I'm just trying to improve on the previous day right now.
Any idea on a timetable for your return?
I know they estimate the injury at about 12 weeks, so that would take me to mid-January. It all depends on how my bone heals. Every person is different, so it could take longer, you never know. You just have to be patient with it. I could be skating in a couple of weeks, though.
After playing all 84 games in your first two years, how hard has it been to sit in the stands and watch your teammates play?
It's definitely hard watching games. You work so hard that you want to be out there contributing to the team. But I think this has been a positive experience for me. It's never fun sitting out there, but I think it's been good for me to become more knowledgeable about the game. In watching things from up top, you can see things develop. Hopefully when I come back I can take the things that I've learned up top and incorporate them into my game.
What, if anything, have you learned in your time on the sidelines - being able to watch practice and watch games?
I think the biggest thing from up top is you see how plays develop. You see where the open spots are on the ice and where you have to get to create scoring chances and be a threat out there. It's also good to be able to watch my teammates, see how they play, so I can jump right back in and hopefully make a difference when I come back.
With your new perspective - combined with your own playing experience - have you been able to counsel any of your other teammates on things they might not see while playing?
I've started watching video. I watch video each week before the games on the team that we're playing to try and see tendencies. Obviously, as a forward, I look for the tendencies of all the defensemen and goalies to try to help the guys out a bit. Then, I'll come down between periods and tell the guys things they can improve on throughout the game that they don't see initially. Basically, I try to help out everybody, not just specific guys. I just try to contribute from up there.
Talk about the team's play through the first nine games. Any surprises?
I think it's great to see how well our freshmen are doing. We definitely have an experienced team, but then with the injuries we've had, guys being out of the lineup, and different things happening with the team, it's important that our young guys have done a great job stepping up and contributing. It's tough as a freshman to do that, but they've done a great job so far. It's tough to name certain guys, because it goes right down the list. If we can get that from them and the older guys can see how they're playing, I think everyone is going to be able to respond and we're going to have a pretty good team.
Can you offer some observations on the team's newcomers?
John Muse has been solid, giving us a chance to win every night. That's all you can ask of your goalie. He has a great attitude. We're really impressed with how he's done replacing Cory (Schneider). Nick Petrecki is a solid defenseman. He's great at making the first pass for us, breaking the puck out. He's a threat out there to make a big hit, rough up their offensive players. He doesn't play like a freshman out there. All three of the forwards (Joe Whitney, Brian Gibbons, Ryan Hayes) are definitely skilled guys. They work really hard. They're all really smart players. It's nice to see them get rewarded for some of their play. And then there are the two backup goalies (Alex Kremer, Andrew Margolin) that come to work every day who are going to push Muse for that starting job. It's great to see their work ethic, too.
As the team gets ready for its final six games before the midseason break, what areas do you see as important/key for the team to focus on to be successful?
I think it's our attention to detail. The first nine games, it's a learning curve, but now we have to improve on them and limit our mistakes. We were talking about generating grade-A scoring chances and limiting the opponent's. If we do that, I think we'll have a chance to win every night. Special teams play is a big thing these days. We're happy with how our special teams are doing right now. If we can continue to play the way we are there and then add some 5-on-5 and 4-on-4 goals, I think we'll be a pretty tough team to beat.
Talk about your fellow junior forwards - on the one hand you have Benn Ferriero and Nathan Gerbe, on the other you have Kyle Kucharski and Andrew Orpik. Each pair seems to have different strengths, but both appear to be effective.
I think each guy plays a different role on the team. Nate and Benn are guys who like to contribute offensively every night. All four guys are leaders in the locker room and on the ice and we expect big things from those guys. Andrew and Kyle are doing a phenomenal job. I think they're two of our most consistent guys right now. We need their presence out there. They're big bodies. I think they're starting to get rewarded for their play and it's great to see them scoring goals. On the power play, they're doing great, too. They just do the little things right and that's what you can really notice when watching from up top. They play within their element, take the puck to the net, and play to their strengths.
You live with some of your teammates. Tell us about your room dynamic - who do you live with? How much hockey talk is there? What other interests do you guys have?
First, I want to thank my roommates for everything they've done since I've been hurt. They've been phenomenal. I live with Nate (Gerbe). We have a great time. We get along well. We have a great friendship. We live with Andrew Orpik and Justin Murphy, one of the managers. Murph is like the glue of our room. He keeps us organized and clean. The four of us get along so well. It's a lot of fun to be around them. Obviously, you're around them almost every hour of the day, but I don't take for granted the time we spend together because it's limited to four years. Away from hockey, we talk hockey because it's an important part of our lives, but we try to shy away from that sometimes and take our mind away from that. We play Madden 04 in our room. We're not really up to date with the new technology - PS3 and Xbox. There's a big debate as to who is the top Madden 04 player in the room. You could say right now that I have the belt in Madden 04. We only play halves. We don't play a lot, especially since I've been hurt.
Interview conducted by sophomore Geoffrey Kehlmann