March 29, 2007
NCAA Frozen Four
INCH Measures Up Boston College's Nathan Gerbe

By Jeff Howe

Nathan Gerbe scored the game-winning goal for Boston College in the Eagles' 2006 Frozen Four semifinal match against North Dakota.

Nathan Gerbe has emerged as one of the nation’s most exciting players this season. The Boston College sophomore forward flies around the ice like a lightning bolt, and his small stature — standing just 5-foot-6 — has garnered him comparisons to former BC great Brian Gionta.

Gerbe talked with Inside College Hockey about that, as well as heading to St. Louis — home of the Cardinals, who beat his hometown Detroit Tigers in last year’s World Series — and his game plan in case he ever fought 6-foot-7 teammate Brian Boyle.

Inside College Hockey: Starting off, what are your thoughts heading into St. Louis?

Nathan Gerbe: Well, obviously our team is excited. We’re happy to be there, but at the same time, we’re coming with the mindset of wanting to win this.

INCH Measures Up:
Frozen Four Edition
Maine's Bret Tyler
Michigan State's Tyler Howells
North Dakota's Chris Porter

INCH: How do you think you match up with North Dakota?

NG: They’re a very good team. They have some offensive power, as you can tell from some of their statistics. I think we’re evenly matched, and I think the team that wants it more will eventually end up winning.

INCH: You guys have three great sophomore forwards — yourself included — but they have three great ones (Ryan Duncan, T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews) who are maybe more heralded. Do you feel any sort of a rivalry with those guys?

NG: I don’t think so. But, when it comes down to it, all six of us in that category are very competitive, and we’ll obviously all want to come out and win it. I don’t think we’re in any competition, but all three of them are great players, and we respect them a lot. Hopefully, they respect us.

INCH: You have a 12-game winning streak going. Are you or anyone else superstitious, doing anything the same before games or anything like that?

NG: I know, myself, I’m not superstitious. I just like to go out there and play. Some guys are a little superstitious with their sticks and stuff. Other than that, nothing really.

INCH: You’re going to St. Louis, home of the World Series champion Cardinals. You’re from Michigan. Are you a Tigers fan?

NG: (Laughs). Yeah, but I’m not a huge Tigers fan. I’m not real big into baseball, but last year when we were beating the Yankees, I kind of stuck it to a few people on our team. I kind of jumped on the bandwagon a little bit.

INCH: So are you looking for some revenge, maybe some people in some Cardinals hats?

NG: (Laughs). Yeah.

INCH: You had some good battles going with Eric Gryba from BU this season. Is there anything to that?

NG: Yeah, nothing to it. We’re just both competitive guys, and we matched up all night and got aggravated. There’s nothing to it. We’re just both playing the game and both of us want to win.

INCH: You obviously don’t need any extra motivation when you play BU, but when you find yourself going up against someone like that who you have some good battles with, does it really bring the best out of you?

NG: I think it does. I think both teams like the fire that it brings to the game. I think I have to maintain that, and that makes me a better player and him a better player, too, having that fire on defense going after me. It helps both of us.

INCH: Ever since you got on that hot streak back in January, there have been a lot of comparisons, especially from Jerry York, to you and Brian Gionta. How does it feel getting compared to someone like that?

NG: It’s a huge honor for me to be compared to such a high-quality player like Brian. Obviously, he did very well here at BC, and he continued his career at New Jersey and has been very successful there. It’s a huge honor for me to even be mentioned in the same sentence as him. I try to watch every move he makes on the ice and try to follow him. Hopefully, I can have as successful a career as him.

INCH: Speaking of watching NHL players, you watched the Penguins practice at Conte Forum yesterday. Who were you watching, and what were you paying attention to?

NG: Obviously, [Sidney] Crosby. I’ve watched him play before but never really got to see him practice. I’ve heard so much about how competitive he is in practice and how hard he works and how he conducts himself at practice. I really wanted to watch him. I think he is a very respectable player, and I think he is a great role model for any young hockey player to follow. He carries himself well. It’s fun to watch someone like that. He carries himself well as a person and player.

INCH: There are some Alexander Ovechkin fans at Inside College Hockey, and those two obviously have a good rivalry going. I can’t let you go without an Ovechkin plug.

NG: Ovechkin is awesome. He is something else to watch. He’s obviously got an awful lot of talent, and he’s a power forward that is hard to stop. He’s one of the best one-on-one players in the NHL ever.

INCH: You mentioned earlier this season that you use your height to your advantage. You obviously can’t use your height to your disadvantage, so what are the advantages of being a 5-foot-6 hockey player?

NG: I think I’m able to gain a lot of speed with my size because I have to. When I’m going into the corners and going for loose pucks, I can get in and get out. With my size advantage, it’s hard to catch a quick player. Same with around the net, I can sneak in and catch a rebound here and there. Other than that, I try not to focus on how small I am but how big I can be.

INCH: With that said, do you ever picture yourself being Brian Boyle?

NG: (Laughs). I don’t think I could ever picture myself being that big, but I watch things that Brian does and see if I can use those things to my advantage the opposite way. It’s definitely fun watching him.

INCH: If you and Brian Boyle got into a fight, who would win?

NG: I think Brian would have the upper hand there. He’s a little bigger and weighs a little more.

INCH: But what would your strategy be?

NG: I’d probably swipe out his legs or something like that to get him down to my area.

INCH: Maybe a David and Goliath thing and not drop your stick?

NG: (Laughs). No, I won’t drop my stick if he wants to fight.