Wisconsin vs. Maine April
Wisconsin vs. MaineApril 5, 2006
Pregame Press Conference Quotes ~ Semifinal #2
Head Coach Tim Whitehead
Were very excited to be back in the Frozen Four- we had a great regional in Albany, and very tough opponents in Harvard and Michigan State. Were very pleased to advance, and play Wisconsin in Wisconsin thats going to be fun, and be a great atmosphere.
Were really looking forward to this challenge.
On the amount of pressure Wisconsin has as the home team vs. Maine. Is there more pressure on Wisconsin?:
Yes and no. We set our expectations pretty high, and that is the most important thing. We came here with the objective of winning a national championship, and I know Wisconsin did too. As did Boston College and North Dakota. No one is going to put more pressure on us than we are putting on ourselves. As for Wisconsin, I dont know. That is something they have to address themselves. As far as Maine goes, we came here to do something special, and we have the opportunity to do that. We know this will be a challenge and that there will be a huge home ice advantage. But that is why we play the game.
Given Wisconsins defense, it is good to know that your offense is clicking?:
It is good to know that weve had success offensively, and that our power play is clicking, because we are going to have to be very good offensively to score on Wisconsin. I believe they are the strongest team in the country defensively, statistically speaking, and watching them on tape, its easy to see why. They do an excellent job of protecting their goalie and they have an excellent goalie. Thatll be a challenge for us. But scoring some goals in the (NCAA East) regional gives us some confidence. During the year we did have a lot of success offensively, but team defense does win championships. We feel that we are a strong team defensively as well, and that is important as well.
What are the ingredients for success on Maines penalty kill?:
There is a combination of many things. Goaltending, as we have talked about before, good team defense, but I think also our forwards. We have a veteran corps of forwards, and that is where we have the most experience. Theyve blocked a lot of shots, theyve worked hard to win loose pucks and putting pressure on the forecheck. For us, its a combination of all three positions to help us with our penalty kill this year.
On playing a freshman goaltender in an NCAA Frozen Four game:
I think Ben (Bishop) will be fine. But of course it would be nice to have Ben Bishop in this situation as a junior or a senior, but you have to start somewhere.
It is very encouraging with how he played in the (NCAA
East) regional as well as the Hockey East Tournament.
He played really well there, and hes played well in every situation hes faced this season, playing with a lot of confidence. I think that the more he experiences, the more hell get better and better.
MAINE PLAYER QUOTES
On playing Wisconsin in Wisconsin in the National
Senior forward Greg Moore- Captain
Weve had a history of playing the home team in the NCAA Tournament were fine with that, and excited about the opportunity and the atmosphere that its going to bring to the game tomorrow night. Its a great opportunity to be in the Frozen Four again our team is happy about the way weve been playing lately, and were proud of how far weve come. Our goal is to win a national championship, so were looking forward to get on the ice tomorrow night it should be a hard-fought game and were looking forward to it.
Senior Defenseman Steve Mullin
Playing the home team brings that much more emotion to the game, its going to be a great thing to be a part of and hopefully we play well.
On all of the pressure for Wisconsin, being the home team:
I wouldnt say that all the pressure is on them- were both going into the game with the same goal. If they feel like they have more pressure because they are the home team and they are in front of their home crowd, then so be it. Hopefully, we can get off to a good start and get some momentum.
On the puckhandling skills of freshman goaltender Ben Bishop:
Its definitely been a bit of an adjustment, Jimmy Howard handled the puck well, but Bishop brings it to a whole other level. There was an adjustment period for us as defensemen to get used to the way he handled the puck, but hes been playing great for us and has been our backbone during this stretch run. If he keeps playing well, were going to try to protect him the best we can and use his puckhandling abilities to our advantage.
On what the Maine team expects to see out of Wisconsin:
Junior forward Michel Leveille
Watching them on tape, they are a pretty aggressive team, they forecheck kind of hard. Any team at this point is pretty good we expect them to be aggressive and strong, play with composure and discipline within their system. As far as ourselves, we really just want to worry about the way we play and not worry about them too much.
MAINE LOCKER ROOM QUOTES
Forward Mike Hamilton
On being at the Frozen Four
Everyone comes in with confidence after winning their regional so its going to be a tough battle and we know its going to take our best game to win against Wisconsin, especially in Wisconsin.
How was the ice?
A little sloppy today, but Im sure it will be better for tomorrow.
What does having two Hockey East teams here?
Its a big thing for our league. Last year it was an all WCHA final so this shows our league has some good talent and its good for our league.
How is Boston College playing?
They are peaking at the right time just like us.
They beat us in the semis and they are playing very well. (Goalie Cory) Schneider is playing real well, if we play them it will be another battle like its been all year.
Goalie Ben Bishop:
Talk about the goalie match ups.
Its a lot of fun playing against all these guys, were playing against the best in college hockey right now. We get a chance to play against a Hobey Baker finalist and that will be a lot of fun. Its an opportunity to play against some great players. Ive played against (Cory) Schneider a couple of times this year and it was a lot of fun.
During warm ups did you notice anything quirky about the rink?
The glass isnt in the middle like in other rinks.
The ledge is real big so if the puck gets rimmed around it might stay on the ledge. The boards are real bouncing so if they shot the puck against them it could go right back in front on the net. So you just have to be ready.
How long does it take to get use to that?
Just one practice. You get a couple of shots on the breakout and you get used to it.
Whats having a couple of Hockey East teams here mean?
Its great, it shows that our league is one of the top leagues in the country. Last year there were four WCHA teams here and its good to get back in the running again.
Forward Rob Bellamy:
What has made you more confident this year?
Just being comfortable with the situation helps. In your freshman year youre kind of nervous and its hard to have confidence. This year I came in with confidence and I want to keep my game simple. I want to do what I do best, fore check and take the body. My line mates (Brent Shepheard and Jon Jankus) are making me good too and thats a big asset. Sometimes teams done like to play against guys that hit hard but thats what we like to do. Thats our game hit hard and fore check and keep the pressure on. That creates scoring opportunities for us and it gives our team energy. Weve got to keep that going.
Whats the biggest thing youve improved?
Probably my work in the defensive zone. Being in position more and that can create more offensive opportunities. As the year has progressed weve been very good on the fore check. We havent had to spend a lot of time in our defensive zone.
WISCONSIN PLAYER QUOTES
Wisconsin senior forward Adam Burish
On the keys to beating Maine:
I think it starts with just playing hard. Weve seen how hard they play. The base of our pyramid is playing hard. What weve seen from them is that they just compete so hard. They are up and down the ice. They skate well. They are physical. So if we can match their intensity and play as hard as them, that gives a chance to be successful.
The definition of Badger Hockey:
Lately its been keeping it simple and having fun and just playing. Throughout the regionals in Green Bay we were successful because we were loose, we were just playing and having fun. On the bench everybody was alive, everybody was talking, everybody was patting each other on the back. When weve had that kind of atmosphere in the dressing room and on the bench weve been pretty successful.
On if there is added pressure playing in Wisconsin:
I dont think its pressure; its excitement. Were excited to be here in Milwaukee. All year you reporters have asked wouldnt it be special to be here. Yeah, it is special. Its unbelievable. This is the ultimate stage of college hockey. Were excited.
Whether its pressure or not, I dont know that we feel any extra pressure, its excitement.
Wisconsin junior goaltender Brian Elliott On the keys to beating Maine:
I think we just need to focus on what we do best and playing our game. If you worry too much about your opponent then your getting away from your own game. So thats what weve been trying to focus on. Just playing hard and beating their hard with the way we go out and play.
Wisconsin senior defenseman Tom Gilbert
On the keys to beating Maine:
Were just going to focus on the stuff we do well. I know Maine is a mirror image of just. They play hard, theyve got great defense and theyve got great depth.
So were just going to go out and do the things we do well.
The definition of Badger Hockey:
From my freshman year to now, everything we do, no matter how were playing were doing it hard. Thats basically what we pride ourselves on, going out there every shift, every period, 20 minutes each period to the end of the game and give it all weve got. Thats Badger Hockey for us.
WISCONSIN HEAD COACH MIKE EAVES QUOTES
At the start of the season, a reporter asked, Wouldnt it be great to get to Milwaukee? I said itd be nice, but we have a long way to go, and it has been a long, topsy-turvy road to get here and we look forward to the weekend. Wed had the opportunity to play a lot of big games in the state of Wisconsin already this year. We played the Frozen Tundra game at Lambeau Field and in the regional, we were part of an epic college hockey game in the Green Bay regional final. Here we are one more time in the state and we have the opportunity to do something very special here.
When Brian Elliott came back and didnt play well, how concerned were you?
It was unrealistic to think hed get back right away.
When he first went down, we knew itd be tough. We were as good as we were because of Brian (Elliott). It took about three games for him to find his focus and patience. When started to become patient again, we he became successful.
Regarding Maine coach Tim Whitehead:
Hes a surrogate grandfather. Our paths have crossed many times and I honor our relationship.
Talk about team patience
We played North Dakota and lost and had to respond against the Gophers in Minnesota. We also had to be patient in a six period game in Green Bay. In big games like these, you wonder who's going to be the x-factor and a lot of times thats how it will be decided.
About a home-ice advantage
This is not a true home-ice advantage, this building was sold out well before the field was set and people come from all across the country to see the premier event in college hockey. We handle a huge home crowd every home weekend at the Kohl Center. We need to apply the lessons weve learned throughout the season.
WISCONSIN LOCKER ROOM QUOTES
Wisconsin junior forward Brian Earl
On playing the Frozen Four in Wisconsin:
Its obviously fun to play in front of your home crowd and be a part of something thats really special. Having kind of the advantage we have at home should give us a boost and hopefully we can live up to what is expected of us and its going to be exciting to play in front of our home crowd.
On the pressures of playing in the home state:
Theres obviously pressure there, but weve had pressure since day one knowing that we could be in Green Bay if we wanted to, obviously, be here if we wanted to. Theres always added pressure playing in front of your home crowd. I think it in a way it could be an advantage, but we have to use it to our advantage.
Wisconsin sophomore forward Joe Pavelski On playing in his home state:
You walked down the street in Green Bay and it was like a home game. Theres another whole buzz to it.
Its just a feeling that draws so much more energy out of you. Coming to Milwaukee, already walking down the street you get a few honks. People you wouldnt think would know anything about it, but they see the W and theyre pulling for you.
On keeping emotions in check for the game:
Its a hockey game. Just a little more stakes to it, but you got to do what you do every game. Come ready to play, but not over-prepare. Just be relaxed and have fun with it.
Wisconsin freshman forward Jack Skille
On coming down from the excitement of last weeks game-winning goal:
Right now, Ive come off the high. Coming out here and realizing, OK, this is the Frozen Four, we have something else on our hands here. Weve got bigger fish to fry and we need to win this. Obviously, that was a good game back against Cornell, but we all have to move on. We have a bigger task at hand.
On the up-and-down season:
Its been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but I think that was good just to have that little hiccup there.
It really didnt let us get too cocky. We really found out who we were as a team. When you get down like that, when you bring yourself back up it shows a lot about your character.