Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fighting Sioux Coaches' Show summary

Here’s a summary of UND hockey coach Dave Hakstol’s comments on tonight’s Fighting Sioux Coaches’ Show with Tim Hennessy and Scott Swygman on KFAN (1440 AM).

Wisconsin was very happy up until the point when Ryan Lasch scored the overtime goal for St. Cloud Saturday night. It was right down to the wire for everybody in the league. When you spread it out over 120 minutes in the weekend and it ends up a tie, it has a lot of significance. On Friday night, we had ample opportunities to score and just didn’t. It would have been a different game if we had scored a goal or two in the first or second periods.

Our goal for either night wasn’t to tie. On Friday, we wanted to be in position to have a shot at the McNaughton Cup. We wanted to win that game. Other than finishing our opportunities, we did a pretty good job. We just didn’t finish. We needed to be a little bit hungrier. It’s important to finish this time of year because you don’t have a second chance once you hit the playoffs.

In Saturday’s game, I thought we stumbled a little bit in portions of the first and second periods. We knew where we were health-wise. We just didn’t have a ton of energy. We were ready to play. I felt like we got ourselves in great position in the third period. Rylan Kaip nearly scored a minute before the penalty call, and that probably would have been the game. SCSU took advantage of a bounce on the power play and scored to tie it.

Lasch is a good goal scorer. That’s his position on the power play. He puts himself in good position to get rebounds. Phil Lamoureux was probably trying to put the rebound in a different spot, but it just didn’t happen. His awareness is usually good enough that it doesn’t happen.

There is always something to play for this time of year. You put the jersey on and you have something to play for. You want to keep momentum going this time of year. We put out best foot forward and just didn’t quite get it there. The last 10 minutes of the third period on Saturday, we were playing very solid hockey. We were still creating chances and opportunities. One of the lessons is that you have to be ready to deal with the hooking and slashing penalties because they can cost you.

Regarding the injuries to T.J. Oshie and Chay Genoway, I don’t know if they will be ready. It’s up to the two players and our medical staff. We want them in the lineup, but it’s still too early to say if they will be. We’re only half way through the week. The track record of Mark Poolman, our athletic trainer, is outstanding. Once you get past a certain point, it becomes a decision of the staff and the player. It depends on whether the player can contribute anything on the ice.

Hakstol doesn’t think coaches should go after players who have made verbal commitments to other teams. Our gentleman’s rule in college hockey, which is different than Division I basketball and football, is that we’ve always honored verbal commitments. I hope that doesn’t change. That’s been the way it’s been in NCAA Division I hockey and among the small group of coaches. At some point in time, maybe that will change, but I hope it doesn’t. I like the way we’re doing business now.

I hope the discussion is larger than honoring verbal commitments. I hope we’re thinking about what’s right for the development of a young man. I hope we’re talking about other things than our jobs. It’s a competitive job and we understand what our jobs are and where our loyalties are. Right now, there’s a good level of professional respect between all programs. We don’t all love each other, but there is mutual respect.

Hakstol isn’t concerned that beating Michigan Tech twice might hurt UND’s standing in the PairWise Rankings. At this time of year, I take the PairWise, RPI and throw it out the window. I want our team to play as well as we possibly can. This is the time of year you want to play well. There are a lot of things we can’t control, but we can control how well we’re playing and the momentum. For the NCAA tournament, it doesn’t matter what seed you are, you’re going to have to play two good teams to get out of the regional.

Regarding the upcoming series with Michigan Tech, Hakstol said: We’re going to expect what we always see from them. They’re extremely competitive. Michael Lee Teslak is as good a goalie as you’ll see in the league. They’re dangerous on the counterattack and they’re based on a sound defensive system. We’re going to have to go through some hard areas in the offensive zone. We’re going to have to win some battles down low and use our defenseman to get some pucks through to the net. You can’t get too fancy. These games will be battles.

Hakstol wouldn’t make any predictions for the upcoming WCHA series. He thinks Scott Sandelin and the UMD Bulldogs have a real opportunity in Denver. He thinks Colorado College has the upper hand because of how well the Tigers have played in their building. The others series, UND’s included, will be very close and hard-fought series. Some will go to three games.

Hakstol said the Fighting Sioux just want to be one of the teams that get to the WCHA Final Five in St. Paul. They’ll be happy to see any other four teams there.

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