Jan. 24, 2012
Watch Johnson's press conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin women's hockey head coach Mark Johnson met with the media at Monday's weekly news conference. Archived video of Johnson's appearance can be found above, while a complete transcript can be found below.
Mark Johnson: We're certainly looking forward to this weekend. We started sort of our festivity yesterday morning at 11 o'clock over at Vilas with an outdoor skate with our team. Bucky was there, had a great turnout, the ice wasn't quite as good as it was a year ago, and the sun wasn't out, but other than the wind, it was a good morning. Had a great turnout and sort of a build up to Saturday's game where we fill the bowl.
In last year's event against Minnesota with almost 11,000 people, it was certainly a special evening. People got entertained to a great hockey game, and it certainly was worthy of raising a lot of money for a good cause. So we're looking forward to this week as we prepare for (Bemidji State) on Friday and Saturday night.
QUESTION #1: Coach, your goal scorers obviously get a lot of credit, but can you talk about the job that your defense women and (Alex Rigsby) have done especially to kind of sure up that end?
JOHNSON: Well, Alex, she's been consistent all season long. She came into camp this year in a better position from a health standpoint where when she came in as a freshman, she was coming off surgery. Her conditioning and strength certainly weren't up to where she wanted to be, where this past summer, she had an opportunity to do some things that she didn't do coming in her freshmen year.
So she got off to a great start in the month of October, and through this weekend has been very consistent, certainly been one of our most consistent players. And she's had to make a lot of saves like she did up in North Dakota a couple weekends ago. She gave us an opportunity to win both those games.
And certainly if you're going to have a good hockey team, you want to win games, it starts from the net out. And so she's your most important player and certainly has had a great season for us.
QUESTION #2: Can you talk a little bit about what last year's Fill the Bowl was like, and just the excitement with crowd?
JOHNSON: It's a special night. And that certainly was a very special occasion, and certainly thank the people in Madison, Don Becker Law Offices, Second Harvest Food Bank, and everybody within our athletic department that helped market it.
You know, for our players, I guess the best compliment is you talk to the Minnesota players that played in that game and the Minnesota coaching staff. And they were as excited as anybody in the building because now they got an opportunity to play in front of 11,000 people. For them to come out in warm-ups and have the bottom bowl full. And as the game started, you had the two bowls full. So it was just a unique experience for our players because a lot of games we don't get that opportunity to play in front of that many people.
And so to showcase our talent, and to showcase our players, and have the game that we had last year against the Gophers, it was, you know, one of the top three or four teams in the country last year. And so it was a tool that we could raise a lot of money for, and help a lot of people out, and at the same time showcase our sport.
QUESTION #3: What is it about (Brianna Decker) where she just seems to have a nose for scoring goals, even on Saturday where she's kind of falling down and flips it in to the, what about her has allowed her to put up this?
JOHNSON: Well, I think the biggest thing with Brianna is she's very competitive. You know, if you go on the ice with her, and there's one puck, chances are she's going to compete and try to hang onto that puck as long as she can. That's just the type of player she is. She doesn't like to lose on the scoreboard, and certainly doesn't like to lose any battles on the ice.
I think she's been gifted most of her career with the ability to get the puck in the net. And so it's that opportunity where how can I create situations on the ice that will allow me to score goals. And she's just very good at it, and she's scored a lot of big goals in her three-and-a-half years with us, and certainly hope that she's got some more in her back pocket.
QUESTION #4: You got some goals, especially Friday night, from some women that don't normally score. Were you trying to develop some more of your depth this weekend?
JOHNSON: No, that was a real positive thing. You know, when you can get some secondary scoring, and then some scoring from individuals that maybe haven't scored a lot of goals over their careers, or that particular season, it just strengthens your team. The deeper you can go in that category, you know, whatever sport it may be, you know, certainly makes you stronger.
So see (Alev Kelter) score a big goal, in the middle part of that game Friday afternoon was huge. And so hopefully that will continue. We've got eight regular season games left, and if we can continue with some secondary scoring like we did Friday afternoon, your chances of winning certainly increase quite a bit.
QUESTION #5: I'm going to put you on the spot here a little bit with post-season awards sort of coming up. How would you determine who has been the most valuable player on the team? You've had so many players obviously that have done a lot of good things, so many talented players. Is it too hard to try to pick someone who's made the biggest impact or?
JOHNSON: Well, you could pick, you know, several individuals, and you know, tell a story about their season, and you'd probably end up pretty good. And then you'd take the next one and do the same thing and it would look pretty good. And so I really don't wrap myself around that. It's about team chemistry, it's about playing for the team, it's about, you know, getting one opportunity to do something special knowing at the end of the season that you won't get that chance again.
And so those are the things I try to focus in on because now you have eight games left in the regular season. Collectively, what do you want to do as a team? I think, you know, if kids can really buy into the notion that it doesn't matter who scores, it doesn't matter who gets an assist, at the end of the day, you know, do we have more goals than the other team? And that's what you should be happy about.
And so if Alev scores a goal Friday afternoon, that's should be a great thing. And if (Brooke Ammerman) scores in overtime, you know, Saturday afternoon, that's a special thing too. And I think if kids can really focus in on, you know, the attitude when I come to practice on a particular day, what can I do to make the team better, what can I do to make the teammate sitting next to me better, and focus in on those things, I think at the end of the day, you're going to be strong in numbers because you've got everybody on the same page.
And at the end of the year, who gets picked as the most valuable, who's the most improved, you know, we leave that up to the team, we leave that up to the reporters. And so as a coaching staff, I think everybody on our team is important because you're going to need them at some point throughout the season. Really this weekend was the first time since I think the first weekend in November that we had everybody available to play Friday. And so, you know, you need everybody.
Somebody may not dress one game, but all of a sudden the next game they're in there playing minutes, and they better be ready for that opportunity. So that's why I get into the notion that you have to have everybody on the same page, everybody pulling for one another, and everybody supporting one another. And I think if you're able to do that for an extended period of time, you really become strong in numbers.
QUESTION #6: Could you preview the Bemidji series and why have you guys been so dominant over Bemidji over the years?
JOHNSON: That won't help us Friday. They're probably the hardest working team if you talk to most of the coaches of teams that have played against them in our league. You know, they've had a very good season. They've been in the top ten for several weeks. And so, you know, no different than our preparation for Minnesota three weekends ago, you know, North Dakota a couple weekends ago. You have (Minnesota Duluth) coming in this past weekend we played.
And so you can never put your hat on the coat rack and relax at any point in the season. And so we'll do some things. We'll watch some video, try to do some of the things that are going to make us successful Friday night, and hopefully the players will absorb it. You know, again, it gets down to matching work ethic and trying to outwork the team. And there's not a lot of things you throw in your hat as far as a formula to make you successful, but there are certain things that you've got to be able to do, and obviously, it's competing, it's playing hard, it's playing smart, you know, playing disciplined. And you know, those things don't change.
Whether you're playing Bemidji or somebody else, you have to go on the ice willing to do those things to give yourselves the best opportunity to win. So we'll do our normal routine that we have done all season. We won't change too many things other than the color of the jersey of the opponent we're playing, get ourselves ready for Friday night.
And hopefully, we'll come out with a real strong effort Friday, and do the same thing Saturday morning, look at the game films, what did you do well, what didn't you do well, how do we prepare, and get ready for Saturday night's game. And hopefully, in front of a big crowd Saturday night at our Fill the Bowl.