March 27, 2014
Cincinnati -- Head coach Mike Eaves, along with captain Frankie Simonelli and assistant captains Jefferson Dahl and Jake McCabe, answered questions from the media on Thursday at U.S. Bank Arena at the 2014 NCAA Midwest Regional. A transcript follows.
Wisconsin Thursday Press Conference Quotes
NCAA Midwest Regional - Cincinnati, Ohio
Wisconsin Head Coach Mike Eaves:
Opening Statement: "First of all, we're really pleased to be here. The guys are naturally excited, as you would expect them to be. It's the first time in Cincinnati for a lot of us and we're learning a lot about the city. We're looking forward to having a good trip here."
On rivalry with North Dakota: "Frankie alluded to it, this is the 167th time we've played them. There's a rich history of great games and key moments. Coming to the regional where you usually have an unknown opponent, this time we have history with our opponent. Both teams will be able to jump into the deep end and just play. Usually, you got to go in and spar and see what things they do. Both teams will be able to play full-on."
On biggest difference from last year's team: "One word: experience. Talking to the coaches from UMass-Lowell last year, they talked about coming back from the previous year and having that experience in their hip pocket. We've got this experience from last year; we are an older team. So, we can use that to our advantage."
On similarities between 2006, 2010, and 2014 teams: "I think what happens in that four year cycle: we have a good team, we have seniors that graduate and upperclassmen leave. So, this hole is created.
This veteran team is put together after four years and it seems to come together. This year, we find ourselves in that pattern. We are an older team and if you look in all NCAA sports, the most successful teams are older. If you can keep a core group of guys around who grow up together, that group's ability to be effective in the locker room has helped this team stay afloat."
On drills and fundamentals in practice: "There's no magic pill. We kept the same routine. It is important for the kids; you want them to feel good. We've done a pre-scout on our opponent and we'll take a look at video as we've done all year. So, things don't really change in terms of our preparation and routine. It's just a different team on the video, what we do on the ice is pretty much the same."
Wisconsin D Jake McCabe (Junior)
On North Dakota: "Well obviously, it's kind of funny that the first year we have this big time conference in the NCHC and the first time in however many years that we aren't scheduled to play each other. I was talking to someone earlier, it's almost as if the hockey gods made sure it happened this year that we were going to play them. Obviously they are huge rivals. They play very similar to us, they're hard to play against and it'll be a fun one.
Comparing last year to this year: "Last year, it was a new thing for us. We had a whirlwind season last year, ups and downs, obviously ended strong; we're in a conference tournament. Were as this year, we have a different demeanor in the locker room. We have this number one seed, we have a lot of confidence. There's a different awareness from how things are handled compared to last year. We realized last year how quick it can end and that's something we focused on this week, playing our game and focusing on all the little details for this tournament."
On the ice conditions: I think we were the last team to skate today so there were a couple odd bounces. We got used to the boards and the way the puck bounces off them. Everywhere has its weird bounces. Everyone skated on the same ice today so everyone will be used to it."
On playing North Dakota and the old rivalry: "That was a long time ago for us and we have a different team and mentality this year."
Wisconsin F Jefferson Dahl (Senior)
On North Dakota: "Yea, just from playing them the last couple of years, we know they're going to give us everything that they have. They're a bigger team, they're going to be physical and they're just going to play a really solid game."
Comparing last year to this year: "I think you can say last year caught us by surprise when we got to the regional. Last year caught us by surprise a little bit and it was something we weren't ready for. The way our team has carried ourselves this year has prepared us for this regional.
On playing North Dakota and the old rivalry: Both teams are different now and we have different players. They are playing with a lot of confidence and we have a lot of confidence, it's going to be a great matchup.
Wisconsin D Frankie Simonelli (Senior)
On North Dakota: "Yeah, we're excited about the familiarity of playing each other in the first round here. That's one thing about the regionals, you're usually unfamiliar about the team, but because the conferences realign this year, we're pretty familiar with North Dakota. I think this is the one hundred and sixty -something time that we've played them, so we know what kind of game it's going to be and it's going to be a good battle."
On the locker room: "There's good energy in the locker room. We're all excited to be here. This is the second trip back for most people who were on the team last year and we know what we've learned from last year being at the NCAA regionals. We're excited to take that and take it a step further next year."