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Transcript: Johnson previews NCAA quarterfinal vs. Harvard


March 10, 2014

Johnson News Conference Small Video Graphic

MADISON, WIS. -- Wisconsin women's hockey head coach Mark Johnson met with members of the media Monday at the Kohl Center to discuss Wisconsin's upcoming NCAA quarterfinal against Harvard on Saturday. Faceoff at LaBahn Arena is set for 7 p.m.

Video of Johnson's media session can be found above, and a complete transcript of his remarks is below.

UW Head Coach Mark Johnson: I guess certainly excited to get an opportunity to host a quarterfinal game. We've had that opportunity in the past, and then certainly looking for the first ever quarterfinal game at our new arena.

So, as everybody knows, at this time of the season you're down to eight teams. BU was able to play themselves into the tournament defeating Boston College yesterday.

So certainly got eight quality teams, and now it becomes a short tournament. You're guaranteed one more game and an opportunity, and if you're fortunate enough to get by that game, you get a chance to go to the Frozen Four.

So team's excited. Certainly the coaching staff is excited. It should be an exciting game Saturday night.

Question: How good did you feel about the Selection Show last night? And are you surprised that North Dakota didn't make it?

Coach Johnson: I'm actually on the NCAA Committee. So I was on the phone yesterday from 10:00 to about 4:00. And then there were two games out east that we had to wait for, but North Dakota, prior to our playoff tournament last weekend up in Bemidji, I think everybody realized they had to win the tournament to give themselves an opportunity to get into the event.

But there are some upsets. RIT beat Mercyhurst in their championship game. They don't get an automatic qualifier this year. Next year they will. So that would've put another hiccup into some teams. Certainly, with BU coming back and beating BC yesterday, that changed the bracket a little bit.

But, again, we're excited to host a game. There's some scenarios there that could have gone either way, and so we're looking forward to putting the game on Saturday.

Question: Mark, did you have fun being part of the committee?

Coach Johnson: It's just a long day, with the two games going on out east. When I came in yesterday morning, we had about four scenarios depending on who was going to win those games. And then you have to wait until the end result.

And then once you get the teams that are in, then you can put things in a bracket and organize it and put it out yesterday afternoon at 5:00.

But it makes for a long day.

Question: With the game against North Dakota on Friday, did that open any players' eyes going into this really tough tournament coming up?

Coach Johnson:Well, as I told the team afterwards, you know, we need to take some things and learn some things from that game. Again, similar to our Sunday game against Mankato where North Dakota was playing for their lives.

As I told the press after the game, I thought we played pretty well. We generated some quality scoring opportunities. We had 35 plus shots on net. You know, the games we played against, that was probably our best game.

But you still end up with a goose egg on your side of the equation. You're not going to win many hockey games if you don't score goals.

So, again, it's an opportunity to learn in that type of situation. If we're able to take some things away from it and put it in our game Saturday, knowing that we have to play a little bit better, have to give a little bit more, then it's a good experience.

Question: Mark, you have two goals in your last three games. You also averaged 41 shots on goal in those three games. Is there concern in that equation, or is there confidence in that equation?

Coach Johnson:Well, there's probably both. You know, it's nice we're getting chances. If you're not getting opportunities, you're not getting quality scoring chances, then you're probably more concerned.

But with those chances you know, as I relate to my players, we need to get the fish in the boat. It's no good to put it on the end of your reel and fight it for 10 or 15 minutes and then go down and reach and all of a sudden it gets away from you.

We need to concentrate here in the next three or four days and bear down, and I think if everybody gives just a little bit more, hopefully, that will be enough.

Question: Mark, to what degree are you looking in the mirror with regards to Harvard?Very similar strengths, very similar lines, very similar statistics with regards to defense, penalty kill, that type of thing. Is it really that stark, or do you see major differences?

Coach Johnson: No, I don't see many differences at all, as you mentioned. You look at the different areas, our last two games, neither team has gotten a power play. There haven't been penalty calls in our last two game. And so you look at that statistic, and that normally doesn't happen over the course of a couple of games.

And so if there's not many penalties, then you have to try to generate some things five on five, which is a little bit more challenging.

If you look at the two teams, and then we certainly today don't know a lot about Harvard. As the days go by here, we'll get some film on them and break some things down and get to know them a little better. But, you know, on paper and some of the things we do know, there's a lot of similarities with the two clubs.

Question: I know your focus right now is probably on Harvard, but when you look down the bracket, there's the possibility of Minnesota, round two. Is Minnesota beatable, you feel like, for any of the seven teams?

Coach Johnson: Well, I mean, I'm not thinking anything past Harvard. But to answer your question, yeah, they've been beaten this year, they've been tied and lost in a shootout. So to answer your question, yeah.

Question: Mark, does having participated on the NCAA Committee this time around there's always been this perception that there's something weird going on in how the brackets are put together, that somehow it always ends up that the two western teams end up having to play one another in the semifinals. Can you dispel that, or is there any truth to that knowledge having seen the process up close here?

Coach Johnson: Well, what we went through yesterday you can dispel it because the way the numbers worked out and the conversations that the committee had again, in the morning, there were four scenarios that we were looking at. Until the two eastern games were completed, we didn't know which one of those we were going to pick.

And there were a couple of those scenarios that if that Clarkson had won, we wouldn't have been in the same side as Minnesota. Two WCHA teams that got into the tournament would have been in different brackets, so and then, again, when BU ends up upsetting BC, that changed it.

And you get down to the numbers, and it actually worked out from a one through eight in the travel and the things that are required of that committee. It worked out fairly easily.

Question: I know you've played in front of some big home crowds this year. What are you expecting on Saturday from the crowd at LaBahn?

Coach Johnson: Well, it should be a good atmosphere. History tells us the community supports us, especially when you get into tournament games in the NCAA quarterfinal games.

We'll have the band there. I'm sure the players are going to be excited to get on the ice and create a good atmosphere.

So it's a neutral site because the NCAA takes it over. They'll have the advertisement and logos on the dasher boards and things like that.

But certainly playing at home is an advantage, and we want to take as much advantage of that as we can.

Question: Can't help but think about the 2007 game at the Kohl Center here. When you saw Harvard up there and you knew that that was going to be, did you at all think back and remember Jinelle Zaugg's game winner and what that was like?

Coach Johnson: Yeah, I remember we ran out of things in between the third and fourth overtime, and somebody had Skittles. The players were eating Skittles, and we were able to go out, and Jinelle scored a goal.

It was a long night. I'll never forget sitting in the coaching room, I think it was probably going into the second overtime, and it was going to be on tape delay that night. So it was going to come back on at 10:30. And we're sitting in the coaching room watching the start of our game while we're still playing it at 10:30. And then come back in the next overtime, and it's still going on.

And so exciting night. The fans that stuck it out saw an exciting finish and a great celebration.

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