As part of Notre Dame’s large freshman class, Bryan Rust (PIT) has been one player that the Fighting Irish have had to rely on for added offensive depth this season. He has played in 39 games to date, posting 19 points (six goals, 13 assists). Hockey’s Future spoke with Rust after practice on Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN.
Hockey’s Future: I know that Notre Dame has relied very heavily on its large freshman class this season and that they’ve been a key in the team’s success. Can you talk about what it’s been like for you to be a part of that group and how the experience has been in getting to the Frozen Four?
Bryan Rust: I know that the freshmen have been a big part of our team. We weren’t expected to do very much this year and were projected to finish in the middle of the pack in the CCHA. As a group, we’ve all worked really hard on and off the ice. We all take similar classes and are dealing with the first year of college, so it’s easy for us to help each other with the day to day struggles of being able to balance school and hockey. We’re all getting along great and becoming best friends, so it should be an interesting next three years.
HF: How has the transition been for you coming from the NTDP to Notre Dame?
BR: The transition wasn’t too bad coming from the NTDP because we do a lot of the same types of workouts and drills that we do here at Notre Dame. In addition, half of our season last year was against college teams. That allowed us to get somewhat accustomed to playing against the bigger, stronger, faster college kids. So I think that the transition for me was easier than it was for players coming from other USHL teams.
HF: What have been some of the greatest lessons that Coach Jackson and his staff have taught you that has made you a better player this season?
BR: I think some of the lessons that I’ve learned are that you can’t get down on yourself when things don’t go your way right away and in order to grow (as a player), you have to be able to go through and handle adversity. Our team has gone through a lot of adversity this year, especially with the fact that some people thought of us as a team that wasn’t very good because of all the freshmen that we have. Everyone in our locker room believes that we can win this, so that’s all that matters to us.
HF: You’ve recently been playing on a line with T.J. (Tynan) and Calle (Ridderwall), what has it been like playing with them? Can you also talk about the chemistry that three of you seem to be developing as well?
BR: I think we’ve all been playing pretty well together. T.J. and I are good friends off the ice and we’re always hanging out together. Calle and I are roommates, so we’re always laughing and having a good time. I think we’re a pretty loose line. We tend to have fun a lot, but we also know when it’s time to get down to business too. When we’re on the ice, we always have each other’s backs, so that’s been a big part of it too.
HF: Were you at the Penguins development camp over the summer?
BR: No, I was not because I was taking summer classes to get a head start here (at Notre Dame).
HF: Are you planning to attend the camp this summer?
BR: I hope to attend at least half of the camp.
HF: What are some of the things that you will be able to bring to the Penguins organization in the future?
BR: I think I’ll be able to bring a two-way game. I play as hard offensively as I do defensively. I try to do all of the little things that would help my team win that might sometimes go unnoticed.