Oct. 21, 2013
Johnson News Conference
MADISON, WIS. -- Wisconsin women's hockey head coach Mark Johnson met with members of the media Monday at Camp Randall Stadium to review Wisconsin's sweep against St. Cloud State, the Badgers moving up to No. 2 in the USCHO.com Poll and previewing UW's upcoming series against Lindenwood.
Video of Johnson's media session can be found above, and a complete transcript of his remarks is below.
UW Head Coach Mark Johnson: Just reflecting on our two games this past weekend against St. Cloud, as I told the team Saturday night or afternoon after our second game, we were able to put six good periods together. I thought our intensity and our pace on Friday night's game was excellent.
The other thing we had talked about coming into last weekend was competing for 60 minutes. In both games we were able to do that. Certainly a couple of power play goals on Saturday were very helpful.
It's an opportunity, again, as the early part of the season continues, as Brian mentioned, a couple more home games. Try to come back this afternoon and continue those work habits and try to become a better hockey team when we take the ice Friday night.
Question: Mark, is there any concern that you played a team in St. Cloud that's still rebuilding, you played Lindenwood that is building. Any concern the success you've had, you worry about how you're getting prepared for this next stretch of teams, starting with Ohio State, knowing how good those teams are. All of them ranked, a lot of those games on the road.
Johnson: It's a good point and certainly a great question. You look at your schedule. You look at your opponent. In the back of your mind, whether you're a player or coach, things are there.
Our job as a staff is to make sure we continue to build. Having played Minnesota early in the season, I think it's extremely helpful because you're going to get a pace and there's going to be a bar set as far as where you are compared to one of the better teams, if not the best team, in women's hockey.
That's what you look at. So as you practice today and then throughout the week, the expectations are we practice at a high level. And one thing I've learned is, you know, you have to respect your opponent. Don't look at their record. Don't look at their history. Prepare for that 60 minutes Friday night like it's the last game of the season and you have to go out and win it.
I think the mindset, as a coaching staff, we have to make sure our players are on the same level that we're at, and I think we're able to do that. We talked about competing and having that intensity Friday night, and for certainly the first two periods, when the shots were certainly lopsided if you looked at the shot chart, and we were able to do that.
Our job as a staff is to make sure that the players are attentive, that they practice hard, that they continue to grow within their habits and prepare themselves like they would for anybody else.
Question: Ann Renee Desbiens pitched a shutout in her first game. Was she that sharp?
Johnson: I thought her composure, I thought her poise didn't look like it was her first game.
What was interesting, as we were taking the ice at the start of the game, Alex was leading the team out. I was trying to think in the back of my mind, like does Ann realize she's playing? Usually in our business, the goaltender that's going to start leads the team out. Someone told me, No, Ann didn't want to lead the team out. She wanted our captain to lead the team out.
She was excited. She got the game puck after the game, and certainly she's going to be part of our group as we move forward. I was happy to get her in and see her play well. Very poised and did a great job, especially in the third period when we took three penalties. They were on the power play quite a bit. She seemed comfortable.
Question: With Minnesota No. 1, you guys No. 2, in your opinion, what is the gap between No. 1 and No. 2, as far as on the ice right now?
Johnson: On the ice or in the polls? They got more votes than we did, obviously. But it's early in the season. The two games we had a couple weeks ago were evenly matched. They found ways both nights to end up beating us.
So the object now is to grow. So we'll get a better feel of that in February when we come down and play the two games here in Madison. It would be a great measuring stick, especially that time of year, because you're not too far from the playoffs. Give ourselves a chance to grow and develop and work with our younger players and try to make them better between now and then.
As far as the polls and that stuff, I didn't even know we were ranked second as I walked in here this afternoon. We're just trying to make strides and trying to get my team to continue to grow.
If you're true to that every week and try to make those strides as you move through the season, you end up becoming pretty good.
Question: How have the freshmen grown since they took the ice against Team Japan until now?
Johnson: I've been very impressed since our first practice with this group. They seem to be composed. They haven't been really nervous at any other point than maybe taking our team photo.
But I think for Syd and for Sarah to get some production early on, especially goals, it takes the pressure of that away real quickly. When we played up in Minnesota, we don't have an opportunity to match lines as well as you do at home. They seemed comfortable playing against Minnesota's top line throughout both the games up there.
Again, they're young. They're growing. They're developing good habits. As you watch them as we proceed throughout this season, they'll only continue to get better.
Question: Mark, how would you describe Madison Packer's presence in a game?
Johnson: I think Saturday's game she played very well, created a lot of opportunities. I think, if you looked at Friday's game, she had some similar opportunities and seemed to get a little frustrated. I think you expect yourself to score or set up goals, and that's not happening, sometimes that will get in your mindset.
But as I look at her package, as far as her four years, this being her fourth year, the first three seasons, she's grown, she's developed, she's matured. I think especially the way she finished the season out last year, the last 15 games, played very well for us.
Certainly, you look at her now as a leader, as one of our assistant captains. Hopefully, she'll continue to grow here as she complete her senior year and certainly hope her production continues, and her leadership skills have gotten better.
Question: Mark, are you getting a sense that there are other schools throughout the country that may soon add women's collegiate hockey? I think the number is now 35, Lindenwood being one of the most recent now along with Penn State?
Johnson: I mean, every once in a while, you'll hear something. When Lindenwood added on and Syracuse a few years ago, there was a lot of excitement that some other groups might step forward.
I think, certainly in our circle as you communicate to talk to other coaches, you'd like to see the Michigans and Michigan States of the world at least look at it. Certainly, there's a lot of young girls' programs throughout the state of Michigan, and certainly with a Big Ten league on the men's side now, it would certainly be attractive to a lot of people and a lot more opportunities for young ladies to go to college and play hockey.
As we all know, budgets are tight in athletic departments. It's not a cheap sport to run. Those are considerations. But hopefully, in the next three to four or five years, we see some more growth and some more schools add on.