Monday Press Conference: Mike Eaves

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

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Coach, Barry was just in talking about the bye week and how it impacted his younger players and how important it was. You obviously have a very young team. How important was it for you to have a week to kind of step back after the early start to the season?

"There's two ways of looking at it, the fact that we were just getting going and we got a couple wins it would have been nice to just keep going. The other hand you take a look at…we had six games and now we had a little bit of a training camp in last week. We went back and we spent a lot of time on special teams and other areas of our game that we want to get better at and I think we are going to be a better team this up coming week."

Mike, what are you most pleased with so far through the sixth game?

"Well, its been really fun to…after people saw us at home for the first time this past week, unsolicited people would come up and say, ‘I really enjoyed watching the team.' They thought we connected the dots more often and made passes and caught passes. I thought our team speed was at a higher level than they remember seeing it, and those are good things. We shared those comments with the kids because those are things that we didn't particularly hear a lot of from last year. They spent a great a summer and their strength and conditioning has paid off. They come in with their skills, and they're able to put the two together to put a pretty good product on the ice right now.

What did you feel about the crowds last week, did you feel that you had a home ice advantage, were you pleased with that?

"It's always interesting when we walk in. We started the game at seven o'clock. We have a late arriving crowd. But by the middle of the second period I look up and noticed there's a lot of people here. I think the kids really feed off of that, especially when you fire as many pucks as we did. Sometimes the puck doesn't go in very easily, but I think the crowd helped us be patiently persistent in just keep going at it and that goal Friday night was a classic example of just staying on top, going against a tough goaltender. It wasn't a pretty goal, but often times there not."

Mike, can you talk about what steps you've taken to minimize the growing pains for your very large freshman class?

"Well the word awareness comes into mind. Freshman come into with a certain perspective of life, about games, about school. We as coaches and adults try to take that perspective and make it wider. Through meetings, through video, through one on one sit down meetings, and try to have their perception of what's going on widened. That's all part of growing up. Because we have such a big group I see us having meetings with the kids a lot more, talking about school on top of it because there was that stretch there where they have the exams and a couple of them looked overwhelmed. I think its just raising that level of awareness to what's going on and how they need to get better."

How much has it helped to have the four kids that played with you in Ann Arbor in this group, to not only give them an idea to what you're like and what to expect in practice and things of that nature, but just the apparent maturity level that they have, having played division 1 games before, having played internationally before?

"Well you've got a young daughter have you ever played chutes and ladders with her? You've got those short cuts. By having those kids there helps us get to a part of the course further down the line quicker. The fact that they have an innate understanding of who we are, what were trying to do, the drills on the ice that were trying to do, they know. They don't have to stand in the back of the line, they can get in the front of the line and lead it. So it really is helpful. It really has helped."

Mike, Tech has been getting a lot of shots on goal, you've been getting a lot of shots on goal. Do you see this weekend as a shoot out weekend that's going to put a lot of emphasis on defense to step up and make a few plays?

"Up to this point you could take a look and say, ‘yes we've had a lot of shots.' Last week we fired a lot of shots, which is something we needed to get done. I think we're looking at two very similar teams, both trying to get better. They have a new coaching staff. I know Jamie comes from Cornell, where he was well schooled in a lot of areas. They've got a couple kids there lighting it up right now. We think its going to be a mirror image of teams trying to establish who they are and what they're all about."

My question prior was what you were most pleased with, I was thinking you may answer defensively, and you'll need that… against this team don't you think?

"Well defensively Troy (Ward) says even when we lost 6-2 to Maine it wasn't like they were in our zone the whole time. We haven't run around, and we hurt ourselves that way, and I feel like we're ready for a test here to come our way. If Tech is a high powered offense, and its hard to measure that because of who they've played, but if they are I think Troy (Ward) feels pretty comfortable because of the work we did last year and kids coming in, having a good base in that area that we will be able to handle that.

How much better do you feel about your team, or how much more comfortable do you feel with what you've got than say three or four weeks ago before the season started having a chance to evaluate now through some games?

"Well, especially after the last series where they got some confidence, they played in front of their home crowd, I think I would emulate what they people are saying. We're a faster team, we're able to connect the dots much better now, our power play has a little punch to it and we really have a legitimate chance to score with both units. Those are good things. Those are things that help you win hockey games. Yes we've got a lot of work to do in areas, but I think we have the people that have the wherewithal to get better, and we just need to keep practicing and get better, game in and game out."

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