Monday presser: Mike Eaves

Wisconsin men's hockey coach discussed overcoming his team's recent slide

Audio file 1 (6:07)

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Mike, do you get concerned at all about (freshman goalie) Shane (Connelly) losing confidence in himself or do you think that him just playing is enough to build it in himself, because the last four games have obviously not gone the way he would have liked, as far as wins and losses?

"Well, I know that Coach Howard has talked to Shane and I haven't had much one-on-one time with him and I will today. I will have time with him in front of him teammates, because the thing that I've seen with Shane is that, you know, we just didn't drop him in the deep end of the pool. We dropped him in the Pacific Ocean and he's surviving.

"But what I like is Shane has gotten better. His game has gone to another level. And for, it's just that the level that it needed to go to for us—and he's got to go through some pains.

"So the things that he can control is keep going on the path that he's on. He's getting better. That's what he can control. That's going to be my message to him. And hopefully that'll settle his mind down as far as wondering where the head coach is at. But that's, those are the things, once again, that he can control."

Coach, what is the morale of the team like after losing the last four games at home and two to Minnesota and losing that eight-point lead that you had in the WCHA standings?

"Well, I just had lunch with the captains and they're a little bit like me in that, yesterday I watched the game. You know, we were pretty good from talking to some friends around that know the game. From tee to green, we were pretty good. But once we got on the putting green, we didn't score enough. We didn't drop some putts. But we did a lot of good things.

"And I think internally, like the older guys know, they know that we did some good things and I think it's up to them and us to make sure that the rest of the team is on board with that thought process. We're going to meet today. We're going to look at some video and reinforce the good things that we did and talk about things that this week we can focus on, you know, to help us get back on track and get some wins. But we did a lot of good things."

I'll just go with that topic. Your penalty kill, I would think, is probably somewhere on that list pretty high.

"That's a pretty good power play they had. And we did some good things, and that's one of the positives that we can build on, the fact that you shut down the No. 1 power play in the conference. You know, there was a question here Saturday night about our power play, and . . . looked at that thing, we had some good opportunities. Minnesota made some nice adjustments, but we did some things that got the puck at the net. And could have had more than one power play goal. And so, especially teams starting with the penalty killing, it was excellent and we'll continue to build on that."

In watching the games again yesterday, you had mentioned Saturday night about not getting to what K.P. called bloody-nose alley [the net] and those areas right around that. Did that just lie in the emotional kind of, you know, letdown that maybe you had in that third period . . .

"You know, I tried to find that. You know, I didn't see an emotional letdown. You know, I look for our energy at the puck. I look for our energy once we were over the puck. And it was there. Perhaps what we didn't do well from a tactical standpoint was get to bloody-nose alley once we had the puck. And that's, you know, that's something we can focus on this week.

"But, you know, we talked Saturday night, you know, maybe we dipped emotionally, but I'll tell you, I kept looking for, after they scored their second, their third goal, what was our next shift, and we went out there and we had good energy and we did the stuff we wanted to do. We just, again, we didn't putt well on the green and the putting was getting to that space in front of the net."

Mike, could you talk, Shane has been such a big topic of conversation. Would you assess your other three freshmen, but specifically Jack (Skille) and Ben (Street), to this point?

"Well, I thought they were pretty good this weekend. I thought Ben, you know, Ben and I chat weekly. He's a very intelligent young man, both on and off the ice, and his ability to understand the game is very good. He wants more. You know, he wants more responsibility and, you know, and he's playing like he should get more, and that's the nice thing to see. We have a good team.

"And when he says, Coach, you know, like I'd like more, I do it respectfully because I know we have a hell of a team here and I'm a freshman and I understand that, but I want you to know that I'm ready. And that's admirable. That's the kind of attitude that you like.

"And I thought Jack, Jack had played with great energy. And I like where he's going in terms of his understanding of the game that he needs to play, his understanding of his role in a forecheck. He's playing more intelligently. Because his gifts are just being an unbelievable athlete physically, his speed, his size, his shot. If he can incorporate understanding of the game and applying all that together, and I thought he took a step this weekend as well."

A follow-up with regards to Ben. Are you inclined, the obvious place that he's not, you know, he's not doing, you double shifted him at center a lot of times this weekend, power play?

"Well, we had him out there a couple times. We had him on left wing a couple times just to kind of get a different look. We'll, you know, again, we'll fool around with that, see where it leads us."


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