At 5’5, he is one of the nation’s smallest players, but Nathan Gerbe is also one of the fastest and most talented. The Buffalo Sabres prospect has had an outstanding sophomore campaign, currently second on Boston College with 47 points.
Gerbe spoke with Hockey’s Future after BC’s 6-4 victory over North Dakota in the Frozen Four semi-final game on Thursday night at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
HF: So how does it feel being back in the National Championship game for the second consecutive time?
NG: It’s unbelievable, especially to get here two years in a row. Last year we fell short a little bit but hopefully this year we can win it.
HF: Can you talk about those two goals that you scored?
NG: The first one was where Brock (Bradford) made an unbelievable play. He was very composed with the puck and slid it over to me for a one-timer and luckily for me it found a hole in the net, so that was good. The second was just an empty net. I can’t give myself too much credit for that one (laughs).
HF: Like last year’s game against North Dakota, this one also had a pretty wild ending to it.
NG: Yeah, you never have a safe lead, especially with the speed and skill level that North Dakota has. They came back hard and never gave up, so you have to give them all the credit for that.
HF: Would you say that the one word that would perhaps best describe you guys tonight, especially in getting the win is resilient?
NG: Oh absolutely! That is the perfect word for it.
HF: When you guys got the lead, they kept coming back.
NG: They never gave up. Obviously, they’re a very good team because they got all the way here. They have very good goaltending and they’re a very good package as a team there but luckily we were able to get out there with a win.
HF: You’ll be facing Michigan State on Saturday night. They’re another really good team that in some ways plays a similar style to that of your team. What are your thoughts on facing them?
NG: We haven’t really scouted them much. I know that Jeff Lerg is a very good goalie who comes to play in big games and is a big reason why they’re here. I know that they’ve got very good forwards too. I don’t think that our game plan is going to change too much. We just have to go out and play and let the passion take over.
HF: You’ve been playing on a line with Brock Bradford and the two of you work so well together. What is about playing with him that makes it so special?
NG: The chemistry is unreal. We’re also roommates at school too so we’re always by each other. It’s just great to be able to build on such a great relationship with him. It’s nice being able to play with him every day. He’s probably one of the smartest players that I’ve ever played with in my life. He puts the puck anywhere I ask him to put it. It’s just unbelievable being able to play with someone like that, so it’s a lot of fun.
HF: You played with Team USA at the WJC in Sweden and were able to bring home a bronze medal. Tell me about how the experience was for you.
NG: It was a good trip. We wanted to get a gold medal but we had a tough go, losing to Canada but picked up the bronze. When we all look back on it, it’s something that we’re happy with because we did medal. It was just an unbelievable trip. All of the guys were fun to play with and the coaching staff was great too.
HF: If your Boston College team wins the National Championship on Saturday night, that’ll certainly cap a nice season for you, being able to add a National Championship Trophy to that bronze medal.
NG: Yeah, that would make it that much better. It would be unbelievable.
HF: What do you feel has been some of the areas of your game that you feel that you have made the biggest improvements in this year?
NG: I think mental-wise, I’ve improved a lot. I’ve worked a lot with the coaching staff as well as the team’s chaplain, who has helped me out a lot mentally. I think my speed has increased a little bit. My hockey IQ has increased a little bit too because Brock has really helped me out a lot. He’s a very smart kid on the ice.
HF: You say that your speed has increased, but you’re so fast already as it is.
NG: It can always get better. When you look at the guys at the next level such as Brian Gionta and Daniel Briere, they’re like some of the top speed guys in the league. So it can always improve. You’re never too good, you know.
HF: The one type of player that Boston College has produced a number of that have gone on to the NHL are guys like you who are small, skilled and fast. Do you find that encouraging for you and your chances of hopefully being that next guy who could follow suit?
NG: Yeah. It’s always been my goal to make it to the next level. When I was looking at schools to go to, Boston College was my No. 1 choice because I had looked at the players that have had on the team in the past like Ben and Pat Eaves and the Giontas and really admired them. It’s unbelievable to be able to watch those guys continue their careers at the next level. It gives me a lot of hope and positive attitude towards it every day, so that’s nice.
HF: I’m sure that you’ve had your share of critics who say that you’re just way too small to be successful. How do you respond to something like that?
NG: It doesn’t really bother me because I’ve heard it my whole life. I think that I could use it to my advantage to kind of power myself every day and to try and prove them wrong.
HF: Getting back to your team, one of the things that Boston College has that has really made the team successful is depth at all positions.
NG: Oh absolutely. At forward, we have four lines that can compete with any team. It’s nice because sometimes it can give our top two lines a breather. On defense, having Brian (Boyle) back there has helped tremendously. We have a lot of depth there too. I think Brian has been one of our top defensemen in this stretch here so it’s been nice. Then we have a goalie like Cory (Schneider) who is just unbelievable, which is nice to have back there.
HF: Something that a lot of people don’t really talk too much about with your team is variety, as far as being able to adapt to any type of situation. Do you feel that that is maybe one of the more underrated aspects of the team?
NG: Oh definitely. You never know how the game is going to change and all that, whether you’re on the power play or penalty kill. I think that has helped our team out a lot without changing the mental attitude and always staying positive no matter what the situation is. You’re always going to face a situation where you might be down a man or with the man-advantage, regardless of what situation you’re in you always have to keep the same attitude about it.
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