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Transcript: Eaves talks Penn State series at news conference



Dec. 2, 2013

Eaves News Conference Small Video Graphic

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's hockey head coach Mike Eaves addressed the media at UW's weekly Monday news conference at the Kohl Center. A full transcript follows.

THE MODERATOR: The men's hockey team will skate in the inaugural home Big Ten series this weekend when Penn State visits the Kohl Center. Friday's game will start at 7:00 p.m. while Saturday's game is an 8:00 start.

Starting with this weekend's games, Wisconsin will have eight more of its games broadcast live on Fox Sports Wisconsin, tape delayed on the Wisconsin Channel. This is in addition to Wisconsin's already announced television package. That brings UW up to 24 live regular season broadcasts. Big Ten Tournament will also air live on BTN, and more information about the TV package will be released later today.

One other thing. On Sunday, the annual Skate With the Badgers happens from 4:30 to 6:30 here at the Kohl Center.

We'll open it up to questions with Coach Eaves.

Q. When a player makes a mistake that is costly, as it was Saturday night, how long does it take you him generally to get back into your trust when they do something along those lines? I'm curious what that process might be like.

COACH EAVES: To get back in the trust of the coaching staff, that depends on the player. Michael Mersch is a senior, veteran player, makes a lot more a lot more better plays than the ones that happened the other night.

For Michael, the biggest thing that we're going to do today as a team is we're going to look at the game and some of the things that carried on that game.

It was a great college hockey game. I mean, I enjoyed watching that game immensely, except for knowing the fact how it turned out.

Watching the fourth goal, was almost in disbelief that that happened. Michael had several options that he could have done with the puck, and then Joe Faust actually hits the puck with his stick. It pops in the air, and [Seth] Ambroz knocks it out of the air in the net. So in a heartbeat that thing turned around.

So to go back to your question, Michael gets right back in the saddle. We're going to look at that today and learn and throw it away and then moving forward.

Q. Kind of piggy backing that, oftentimes it's tough for anyone to come out and face the music when the reporters are asking all those questions. You have to give him credit for how he answered it and kind of stood up and took it and wants to move on as well.

COACH EAVES: One would hope that, being a senior, that would happen, and being older and having some experience in that. That's a good experience for Mike.

Heck, we all have bad days, and we've got to come home and say, I've had a bad day, honey. I've got to hopefully have a better one tomorrow.

Q. First of all, how does it feel to have the mustache gone?

COACH EAVES: Well, it was an easier process just shaving off a mustache rather than the whole beard. My wife said I look younger, and that's a good thing.

Q. When you played here, it's hard to imagine, because it was a while ago, that you put a lot of stock into milestones, things of that nature, records that you might have set, that type of thing. Having said that, how can you put Mark Zengerle's 100 assists into perspective from somebody who had that many and who had some pretty big numbers when you were here?

COACH EAVES: To be really truthful, I don't think you recognize those things when you're playing. It's when you're done that you kind of look back and reflect.

So I have not made a point of congratulating Mark on that accomplishment. I will do so today, but I'm pretty sure Mark might say, well, maybe that will mean something later on.

Right now I think you're so involved in the moment and trying to get going here and get on a roll and get some wins that that's not a big thing.

Q. All season it's been a weekend of games, weekend off, weekend of games. What can getting back on the ice do for this team?

COACH EAVES: That will help us get over last weekend, that's for sure. That was one thing that was said right after the game is good thing about this is we play again next weekend. We can get right back on the ice and not have to live with this for another bye week.

Being around this morning and running into some of the guys, they're anxious to get back on the ice and move forward.

Q. Does last year linger at all in the minds of your players?

COACH EAVES: I think a little bit, yeah, yeah. In talking to some of them, we played really well on Friday and beat them, and then for two periods on Saturday, we had tremendous amount of shots, and the young goaltender stood on his head, and they hung around and hung around and they end up winning.

So I know they remember that, in talking to some of them today. That will be there in our minds as we get ready to win.

The best thing is we've got to find a way to get going here in the Big Ten and find a couple ways to get a couple wins.

Q. Mike, what was most encouraging Saturday, how your team played, in all aspects, I guess?

COACH EAVES: Just the pace that we played in. Playing against a team that can play at a high pace. It just shows that we can play at that level. That level, in our mind, as a coaching staff, is the kind of championship level you're going to see at a national tournament or regional. High pace, good skill. Transition was phenomenal.

There are so many great things about that game that encourage us that, you know, we're on the right track. We're on the right track, and we hadn't played in a couple of weeks.

I think that this group is still there. When you take a look at those four goals, two were face off goals, and two were turnovers. Those are fixable.

It's kind of a little bit of a sliver in my finger here, the fact that we're getting scored on so much on face offs, because Shuey and I were both center icemen, and that's something that we take great pride in. To have that happen is not good. We're going to go back to some basics today in practice and work on that.

To go back to your question, the fact is that if you want to play championship hockey at the end of the year, there were a lot of things that happened in that game for us that say we've got some things going for ourselves.

Q. What's your overview on your goaltending situation right now? Landon had you talk about face off goals. He gave up a tough one on Friday night, Joel on Saturday. Where are they in your mind in terms of being at the level that you want them to be at?

COACH EAVES: I think they've shown us they can be better, and I think they need to get there. I thought on Saturday Rumps was a little sloppy in some of his play with the puck, going out and stopping it.

But Shuey is quick to point out he's only played three games in a long time and didn't hurt.

Jeff Sanger, our volunteer coach who was a goalie coach, he gets a look at video, and he'll be out here the next couple of days, and we'll continue to pound that area that they need to show up as well.

Q. What do you expect the atmosphere to be like in the Kohl Center come this weekend in the first Big Ten home opener?

COACH EAVES: I'm hoping it will be really exciting. I know our kids are excited. Our administration bought us a couple new toys we're going to come on the ice and have on the ice that create, they hope, a better fan experience, and hope we can provide some of that fan experience by going out and playing great hockey.

The Big Ten is here. We've got an opponent that a lot of our kids will know from football and basketball, but now they're hockey; I hope that draws them out and we'll have a packed building as well.

Q. What does Penn State bring in this weekend?

COACH EAVES: Just looking at video this past weekend and this morning, their goaltending starts right there. It's very good, very stellar. They go side to side very well. They have good size at the net. Watching them play up front, much like last year, it's funny how a... team will emulate the personality of the coach.

They play hard. Guy Gadowsky, he had a great record at Princeton. They come on a well coached team that will be in good shape and work very hard. It doesn't matter what the score will be or what the situation is, they'll play hard. That's what they're going to bring to the table, first and foremost.

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