Oct. 15, 2012
• Watch Johnson's Press Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin women's hockey coach Mark Johnson spoke to the media on Monday at the weekly press conference held at Camp Randall Stadium.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Johnson's remarks can be found below.
Coach Johnson: Certainly a lot of excitement in the women's hockey program as we enter into a new facility. Certainly want to make sure I thank the LaBahn’s and the contribution they made in starting this project.
As I told a couple recruits this morning, as I got to the office, I have to pinch myself, getting a new way down to work and walking into the building. I have to thank Coach Alvarez and his support for really spearheading the project and getting the shovel into the ground, and now reality is going to be with us Friday night.
I remember when we opened up the Kohl Center in the late '90s, and it certainly was a real special night as the young players got to go on the ice. The people in Madison got to go into a first class facility. I know when the alumni come back, they'll start coming to town on Wednesday, and some of the players that started the program many years ago are going to walk into the building and probably going to go, wow, these kids are so lucky.
So I feel very fortunate to get a chance to work out of this building. Obviously, we're just moving into it, but looking forward to Friday night. I'm sure, not only the players, the coaching staff, everybody associated with the program will have a few butterflies going into it.
The future is bright for the young athletes to get a chance to work out of the facility. There's so many wonderful things about it. Now we get to open it up Friday night. It will be a special week. It will be a special night for the hockey program. We're looking forward to it.
Question 1: Short of playing a game there, has the use of it, now that you're in it, has it been better than maybe you thought, and you go, wow, this is really something?
Coach Johnson: I think, when you build new project and I've been around here, and we've done a great job with building new facilities, and I think, as people walk into it, you sort of look for that wow effect. Obviously, recruits are looking for things that can make them better players, surround them in an atmosphere where they become and improve in those areas they want to improve in.
Obviously, academics that I think we have here on campus within our system are second to none. But you get that wow effect.
I was talking with Mike last week as he was finishing up practice, and I was starting practice. It's got some natural lighting effects to it. So some rinks and you've been in rinks before where it's a little darker. The sight lines are a little bit more challenging. The lighting for the game might be a little bit difficult for seeing from one end of the rink to the other.
This has got natural lighting, so when you step onto the ice, it's sort of this refreshment in the way you go about your work on the ice. It's got a lot of wonderful things. We're just getting used to it. I've still got a bunch of boxes in my office. Our locker room is not where it needs to be. That's part of the process of taking a house and making it a home, and we're going through that right now.
So we want to make sure it has some excitement and has some home ice advantage to us. But we'll start that process Friday night.
Question 2: And along those lines, Coach, talk about taking a house and making it a home, is it going to take a game, a series, or how long do you anticipate it's going to take before LaBahn feels like home to you guys?
Coach Johnson: The more we play, obviously, the more comfortable we'll be. But our players, after spending a couple of weeks in the locker room, spending a couple of weeks practicing, those things are starting to come. Everything about it is so nice that he just everything in the process is like being in a new home. There's all of this excitement.
Even when we get home last night at 11:30 after riding the bus for five hours or taking our equipment into the room, it's exciting. It's going to be a fun week. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of excitement on the ice for practice.
As I said, some of the former players come back Wednesday and Thursday and start walking around the locker room and talking to our current players, it will create a real energetic atmosphere, and I'm sure, when we take the ice Friday night, the day before warmups, there's going to be a lot of energy in the building.
Question 3: Do you think that energy and excitement of a new building is going to help you shake off this weekend even more?
Coach Johnson: Well, you hope so. I mean, the toughest thing in our business is to score goals. We were unfortunate this weekend to come away empty handed both nights. Friday night or Saturday afternoon's game was one that we probably could have wanted maybe 5 or 6 1. Their goalie was good, and we didn't capitalize on a lot of opportunities, especially on the power play.
With young players, it's a learning opportunity. We spent six games on the road. We've been on the bus quite a bit. Now we get to come back and create this atmosphere within the new building. So everything's pretty upbeat. Everything's pretty positive. The team's played pretty well. Unfortunately, we just came away this past weekend with not scoring the goals we needed to to win hockey games.
Question 4: Mark, was Brianna prepared for the possibility of a weekend like that knowing how young her teammates are and how teams are probably looking at her with a bull's eye on her back?
Coach Johnson: I don't think she was prepared from the standpoint, in answering your question you know her. She's very competitive. She wants to be the best player. She wants to win hockey games. Now with a captain's "C" on her jersey, she wants to lead the younger players down that path.
So maybe yesterday's game, the middle part of the third period, you might have saw a little bit of frustration on her in regards to they were playing her pretty tight. They weren't going to give her a lot of space. There wasn't a lot of room for her to create things.
You've been around hockey long enough, Andy, where, if you're not scoring, from a coaching staff, we really have to work within our players' minds to make sure they don't get frustrated because the easiest thing for them is to get frustrated, especially when you're getting quality looks. We had a couple of posts we actually played for the first periods out there, other than a few minutes Saturday afternoon in the second period where we had a couple minutes where we didn't play really well, and yesterday four or five minutes where we didn't play where we needed to. Overall, the effort was pretty good.
Again, goals create energy. That's what we were looking for yesterday, and we never got it. The message this week is try to be positive, try to be upbeat, try to create the energy and look forward to Friday night's experience.
Question 5: Is patience one of Brianna Decker's strengths?
Coach Johnson: I think, in coaching too, it's the same thing. You can say yes to both sides of it. I think she's patient and understands the role she's in right now, and I say that because she's experienced. She's played it on different teams. She's played with a national team in different occasions, in world championships. She's quite experienced for a young age.
And so I think in the big picture she can analyze things and be real with herself, but at the same time, as a coach, sometimes we're not very patient, and we want results maybe sooner than expected. So I think she's walking down that road, and sometimes she jumps left, and she's not patient. Other times she jumps right and understands the process.
Question 6: What's your favorite part of LaBahn? I know you've got the balcony that overlooks the ice. What does your mind go to first when that question comes up?
Coach Johnson: Probably the ice sheet. I just think, as I mentioned earlier, it's got that natural lighting that just sort of and I'm sure, as we go along and we have those days where it's not very enjoyable and you walk onto the ice sheet and close the door and you're in your environment, it's going to bring a real smile to my face just because, like I say, I had to pinch myself this morning as I drove down to work. It's a reality. It hasn't really hit me yet.
Hopefully, as we go through the next couple of weeks and play games in there and really experience it, it's going to be something that is like, wow, I'm not dreaming. So I would say the ice sheet. I mean, I don't go in the locker room, obviously, on many occasions. I know the players for them it's probably the locker room and the players’ lounge and the things that they deal with on a daily basis. But there are so many things to be thankful about.
For our freshmen, they live just right across the street in Smith, and so other than going to class, their entire world works out of LaBahn and the Kohl's center, whether it has to do with strength training or academics. If they need a tutor, we can get it right there. We serve training table right there.
The whole world is right under one roof. I've been in hockey for a long time as a player and a coach now, and I've never personally had that, where I can drive into work and Mike can probably say the same thing. We can drive into work, and we don't have to leave the building until we go home that night. So it's a luxury. We feel very fortunate, and we're certainly going to do everything in our power to make sure that the players come in there and they respect it and they understand what the expectations are at the same time.