Monday press conference: Mike Eaves

Men's hockey coach talks MSU-Mankato, Bruckler and overtime games

Mike, do you see your guys, or maybe do you want to see your guys seeing the finish line this weekend for the first half and kind of striving to get through this weekend to get to their break and remember that, you know, this first half isn't over yet because Mankato does pose some challenges?

" Big-time challenges, so as a coaching staff we're certainly going to bring that to a level of awareness. And we want to try to finish this first half on a really good note. It'd be nice to do. We've got lots to play for here. And as you said, they pose a lot of challenges for us.

"This team went into Minnesota, and we watched that game, and they were outstanding. It's a game they lost 3-2. They lost the night before 9-2. It wasn't really a 9-2 game. And they came out and played the Saturday game against the Gophers and gave them everything and more than they wanted, and the Gophers won it on a goal that probably shouldn't have been allowed in overtime. So they can skate. They're competitive. And as we seem to say about every team, if you work hard and you play hard, you give yourself a chance to win, and they will definitely do that."

How difficult is it to play up in Mankato?

" No more than any other place. No more than any other place. I know their fans are, they have alcohol in the building there, so that's a little different flavor, pardon the pun. But the ice surface is the same as ours. I mean, it's good ice. I don't mind the building. Last year Troy (Ward) took the team in there and did a pretty nice job. So I don't think it's any different than any other building."

Coach, this year you have yet to play an overtime game. Do you think that helps your team or hurts your team in the long run?

" Well, you know, last year we went into the season not playing many overtime games the year before and, you know, we seemed to do well in just the matter of the mentality of the kids and the attitudes of the kids going into the overtime. And I think if you take a look at how we play in the third period, which in many cases a game comes down to the third period, that we play pretty well there. So I would tend to think, or like to think, that we'd do well because of our mentality going into the third period, which is the period that you close the game down with or win. So I think we'd be okay."

Mike, over the last couple years certainly Bernd's stats indicate that he's, if not the best, one of the best goaltenders in the country. But he doesn't seem to be a guy who makes a lot of flashy saves, big-time saves that get the crowd on their feet. What is it about his mental or physical makeup that does make him one of the better goaltenders in the country?

" I think any good goaltender that has longevity, less is more in terms of how they play that position. And I think if you talk to Coach (Bill) Howard, he's a big proponent of that. It's about position. It's not about being way out and having to scramble back to the net to make a great save. If you're doing your job properly, you're very efficient in your movements, and especially with a goaltender. So less is more, and that's one of Bernd's strengths."

Mike, if you're No. 1 in the polls, and there's talk that Wisconsin could be, would that mean that Wisconsin hockey is back?

" Well, it's an indicator. We talked about that this morning a little bit, how you balance that whole issue out. And it'd be a great comment to make, where our program has come in the time that we've been here with our coaching staff and our players. It would be a statement to that, but no more than that, because if we talk about, we know what really matters is the end of the year. But we would want our guys to have a, you know, take a moment to pause for that, where we've come together, especially our people who are juniors with us now. We all lived through that first year, and we've gotten better. Let's pause, but we know that we've got a lot of work to do."

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