Monday Press Conference: Mike Eaves

Wisconsin men's hockey coach Mike Eaves addressed the media Monday

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Mike, Quinnipiac played Michigan pretty tough a couple of games last weekend, one goal games on the road. Does that impact the way you prepare for them or can you address that at all?

"Well I think just because nobody knows too much about Quinnipiac, including our players, the feeling may have been, ‘Well they're a non-conference team and they're going to come in here and we're going to win.' Well, they play Michigan right to the nines and they lose two one-goal games. Apparently their goaltender stood on his ear and they got out-shot two-to-one both nights. But the goaltender is your x-factor and so I'm glad they had the weekend they had because that's going to make our guys stand up and notice…like we need another reason to play better, that's just another factor for us."

Mike, your search to get more offense out of this team, more goals…obviously you went through different stretches like that last year as well. Are the reasons for the lack of goal scoring production so far this year, the same as last year or are they different reasons?

"You have to take a look at what offense is. Offense is a natural gift. Right now you take a look at Rene (Bourque) hasn't scored, Ryan MacMurchy hasn't scored…the guys that we were kind of counting on. Well, there's a flow and ebb that goes with goal scoring. They will score again. Right now, the worst thing that those two young men could do for each other is just put pressure on themselves. The first rule of when you're in a hole is stop digging. I remember watching last year, Brett Hull went through 18, 19 games where he didn't score and what a good pro will do is he'll recognize what he's in and he'll stop digging. Heck, Brett (Hull) was laughing on the bench because he was hitting guys in the butts and posts and he knew it was going to come back so his time in that funk was less because of the way he handled it. Rene (Bourque) will score. Ryan (MacMurchy) will score. They just have to go back to make sure they're working hard, they're having fun, and take a look at ‘am I getting chances?' and they are. They are getting chances, our whole team out-chanced our opponents this weekend. We out-shot them. You know what, the puck just didn't go in for us…a disallowed goal, so it's those kinds of things. There were a lot of positives there. We just have to get through this little offensive funk and it will be fine."

Mike, do you ever think they'll allow goals off a skate or swat at it in the air or do you think in your mind that it will always have to come off a stick?

"Well the rule is such that if there's a kicking motion, and that's where the line has been determined, the referee was blinded from the play but the linesmen were 60 feet away both at each blue lines and their opinion was that he kicked it in. Well we had inside position and their guy was checking our guy. From our perspective or from the bench it didn't look like he kicked it in. So it's their call and we could have complained about it but you know what, we had to let it go and get try to get back in the game. You shouldn't be allowed to kick it in. I mean, there is a distinct motion and that's another decision for the referee. If he's in front and it hits his skate and goes in then hey, kick it in and that should be a goal. So I think the rule is fine, it's just the interpretation of it and once again the WCHA has talked about whether or not to put an instant replay in, they deemed this summer it was too expensive, but gee that sure would have been nice to have it at that game."

Mike, can you give us your albeit early assessment of the new guys like Andrew (Joudrey) and Jake (Dowell)?

"Well I think if you've seen our games on TV or anything like that, that they're doing what we thought they would do. They've brought an influx of ability and talent and skill, and they've been involved in scoring and that's what we hoped they would do. So it's been very positive and I think when we get the other guys kicked in, we'll be off and rolling."

Mike you've also had some issues with penalties and playing a man short. That certainly may have cost you and maybe this weekend as well. Lots of different reasons for penalties, whether it's being a step slow, out of position or guys who just play that kind of rough and tumble style…what are the reasons why your team has faced so many penalties early on or is there just a variety of reasons?

"Well I think it's a variety of reasons and the second thing is that the penalties in both games were even. 7-7 the second night and within one the first night, so it's not like we're doing anything special. The one that did hurt us on Saturday night was Ryan MacMurchy and Ryan is such a strong, aggressive young man. He's got to become smarter than that and last year it hurt us in our last game of the playoffs and this year again it's a technique, it's a smart issue, and Ryan is now at the point where he's going to have to pay a price within our team. I didn't have to say anything to him the other night. His parents drive 18-and-a-half hours to see him play and they see a period and a half…you don't think that young man felt bad? So when we talk to him today there's going to be talk, let's talk technique, let's talk smarts, let's talk about the fact that next time it happens you're going to have to pay a price from the coaching and your teammate's standpoint because you hurt the team."

Coach, how do you think home ice will help you guys out this weekend?

"Well, I'm hoping that it will give us a real emotional boost in that the kids will be really excited and the atmosphere in there will be intimidating to Quinnipiac and that we'll be able to really use that energy to get over this little funk we're in and score some goals and get us a couple of W's."

Mike, do you think Bernd (Bruckler) feels a little pressure because of the lack of goal scoring so far and secondly, do you plan to change anything around with this non-conference weekend?

"I think it was a great weekend for Bernd (Bruckler). I mean his save percentage was right around 90. He let a total of five goals for the weekend. He was solid. For him to rebound like he did after the previous weekend was huge for his confidence. So I think he was just trying to get back to where he felt good about himself and he got back in the saddle this weekend and that's a good sign for our team."

Obviously any win is an important win. How important for your team psyche to get a couple of wins this weekend to not get in that rut where they start losing a couple of games and it starts building into a long losing streak?

"It's important. I think that winning sells confidence to the kids. It sells what you're trying to have them do in terms of your game plan and strategy. So there's no question that it's important and I think this week in practice that will be evident by the way the coaches are and the players respond."


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