NCAA Frozen Four
Measures Up Boston College's Nathan Gerbe
|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: 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
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
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
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
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
NG: I’d probably swipe
out his legs or something like that to get him down to my
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.