Oct. 17, 2011
MADISON, Wis. -- Men's head hockey coach Mike Eaves made his weekly visit to Wisconsin's Monday news conference as the Badgers prepare for a home series against North Dakota this weekend. Read the full transcript below.
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QUESTION #1: After the overtime losses, for a young team, any issues with confidence with the guys, or do you think they'll come back raring to go here today?
Mike Eaves: I had a gathering with the captains today and talked over various things. We meet every once in awhile, and I asked that same question. They said, Coach, we're so young. That they're just naïve, that they'll just come back, and they'll be fine. It's much like us in the games. We've fallen behind, fought back in, and fallen behind again, fought back. They just keep playing, so I think they'll be fine.
QUESTION #2: Obviously, not a lot of offense in terms of the goal production early in these first few games. Is that the toughest adjustment for a young player to make, whether it's your program or just college hockey in general, in getting to that next one and being able to put the puck in the net?
EAVES: There's no question. When you lose Craig Smith and Jordy Murray, you're trying to replace some offense, and you bring in talented guys, for instance, Joseph LaBate, who is an offensive guy, and Brad Navin, it's going to take some time. I thought Brad Navin had his best game so far. He showed his skating ability, and he snapped the puck. He was involved in a goal for us.
Bill and I, Coach Butters and I were talking on our way over here, and it's like we want our first semester freshman to be playing like second semester juniors, and that's just not going to happen. So they're going in the right direction, and we've just got to keep them pumped and show them stuff, how they're working and things are coming. I'm sure they're feeling it on the inside, but, again, we like them to be juniors when they're freshmen.
QUESTION #3: Brad Navin's transition from a Wisconsin high school to the University of Wisconsin, that doesn't often happen. There's some challenges that go along in there, but he seems to have a big body and skating ability that it might make it a little bit easier.
EAVES: It was really encouraging to us as a coaching staff to see the type of game he played on Saturday night, because he took a step. He didn't look like a freshman. That big body of his was skating. He was shooting the puck. He played with some confidence, and that's what he needs to feel. That's what we needed to see. So if he keeps doing that, he's going to be on that score sheet more often.
QUESTION #4: Mike, through the first two games, John Ramage has been on the ice for the vast majority of opposing goals. Is it him trying to do too much with a defensive partner who's, for the most part, been a freshman, or is there more to it than that?
EAVES: Well, it's a combination. I mean, you take a look at the winning goal on Friday. Is that John's fault? I mean, I think he's in a little bit of a funk. The guy on Saturday, he's covering him, hits the guy. The puck was going 10 feet wide, hits the guy in the shaft, it goes in the net.
So I think it's a combination of some bad luck right now. I think he's trying to do a little bit too much. In other parts of his game, we see him moving well and doing very much the job that we need him to do. With the captains today, we talked about the fact that one of their challenges is not to be super captains to do their part. Less is more. And that's a difficult thing for adults to understand, let alone kids that are 18 to early 20s.
QUESTION #5: Less is more. Does that apply also to Justin Schultz, or do you need him to do more?
EAVES: Well, that applies to Justin. I mean, you can see it on the ice there. He wants so badly for the team to do well, that he's stepping outside what he would naturally do, which is the most effective. And he's got to try to strike that balance with the type of team that we have and understand that, and he's learning. He's a bright young man.
QUESTION #6: Mike, do you plan on continuing your goaltending rotation?
EAVES: At this time, yes.
QUESTION #7: On the subject of goalies, you saw talent in these guys and had hoped that they would come in and played well, but have they exceeded your expectations in the way they've handled it, and especially these first four games?
EAVES: I would say yes. We as a staff talked about that. The captains have said that's one of the things that's been answered pretty emphatically here, is these young men have stepped in and done a nice job. And in all the games that we've played, they've given us a chance to be victorious.
QUESTION #8: With so many things on their plate with being such a young team, as you mentioned, all the adjustments they have to make, do you say anything, or is there anything to say to them about playing a North Dakota, a rival, a jump up in caliber play, any of those things, or do you just have to just let it all play out and see how it happens?
EAVES: Well, first of all, we talked to them after the game in Tech, and they were very disappointed. And it's, it's about us as a staff and them as players to control the things they can and get ready for North Dakota. And no matter what happened over this past weekend, our job here is to get back to practice and become better in practice and get ready for North Dakota. North Dakota's going to be fun to get up for. You don't have to worry about the emotional. We have to though, during the course of the week make sure that we're getting better in the areas, in all areas, so that helps us be successful on Friday, Saturday.