Monday press conference: Mike Eaves

Badger hockey coach talks about facing North Dakota and last weekend's sweep

Mike, what comes to your mind when, in the series with North Dakota is mentioned, the rivalry with that team?

"Well, I think, firstly, what comes to mind is the intensity. It's always a physical series. And, No. 1, that's the way they play it. No. 2, it's a smaller rink, so there's going to be more contact. The shape of the boards is egg-shaped, so the puck is always bouncing around. So I think that's the kind of team that we're used to playing against, and I don't think that will change this weekend as well."

You talked early in the season about Brian Elliott's off-season surgery, I believe it was on his foot, how is that holding up right how? He's played all six games so far, and how's he been feeling?

"Well, he didn't have any surgery. He did have a problem with his foot, but there was no surgery needed. It's based on his numbers alone. It's the fact that he's come back. He played back-to-back games for the first time in a long time. He's held up very well, and he's doing what I think his teammates thought he would. You know, they were together all summer, shooting on him, and they have said, he's tough to score on, Coach, and he's continued that into in the season."

o You mentioned the intensity that North Dakota plays with, and on the small rink, what kind of adjustments does your team have to make on a smaller rink this weekend?

"We've talked about this before, the fact that time and space becomes more of a premium, and so this week, we'll, we too will practice on a small sheet Tuesday, Wednesday, in preparation for this weekend, and things just happened a lot quicker. We always encourage our kids to be a good chess player and know what they're going to do with the puck before they get it. They really have to set that up going into a smaller rink. There's less time and space, and so ice space and time become premium, and we'll work on that during the course of this week."

Coach, you and Coach Mark Johnson talked at the beginning of the season about possibly splitting a lot of weekends. Now, how great is it to get the sweep this past weekend, and are you impressed with the team so far?

"We made a big step this weekend in the fact that we were consistent in our effort. For six periods, we were pretty close to playing with great intensity and support around the puck, away from the puck. We talk about time and space, when Anchorage had the puck, we took away their time and space. To allow a team, you know, fewer than 25 shots a game is pretty good. So it's nice that we got a little bit more of a flow in our offense as well going into North Dakota. We said earlier, that what took place this weekend was potential with our team, just trying to score, and it happened. So I think we're more in that flow and more of that rhythm, and we'll hopefully carry that with us up to North Dakota."

Now you're still looking at the Fighting Sioux, but they don't have those two big gorillas back there like they used to. Does that help in the offensive zone?

"Well, they made it a lot more difficult trying to get to the net, but they'll still have the same philosophy in terms of denying your space near the net, and they'll play hard. And then we don't expect anything different. They might have different personnel, but they'll have the same thoughts."

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