The WCHA had its annual pre-Final Five press conference this morning. Here’s a summary (not to be confused with a transcript, which it’s not) of what Dave Hakstol had to say.
Congratulations to Scott and Colorado College for their championship.
I also wanted to mention Jamie Russell and his team at Michigan Tech. It was a tough series for us to come out of, so we take our hats off to the Michigan Tech Huskies.
Our senior class is happy to be able to return to the Final Five one more time and take a shot at the Broadmoor Cup.
Q: Can you talk about the Oshie-Duncan line and how they’re playing?
A: They’re both playing good, solid two-way hockey. Our depth is the most important part of our team, but those two guys are impact players and are playing well.
Q: How has your veteran defense been going for you?
A: We knew coming into the year that to be successful our D corps had to be a source of stability for us. Even though its a veteran crew, we have some new partners this year, so its taken some time to develop chemistry and grow together. They’re moving the puck out of the zone and adding some offense.
Q: You’ve lost once in the last few months, is there a difference in the way you’ve played?
A: Within the WCHA you have to play well and have some breaks go your way to win games. But you do have to work for those breaks. In the early year we were working hard in some areas, but weren’t mature enough to close out some of the tight games. It’s a subtle difference. Our work ethic is no different and our mentality is no different. We’re doing some little things better and have had some bounces go our way in the second half.
Q: Is the final line change (the home ice advantage) much of an advantage?
A: We work hard to gain the home ice advantage and that last line change. It depends on your opponent how much of an advantage it is. It’s always nice to have the ability to match things up if you want to do that, but it’s not the case in 100% of games.
Q: A couple years ago we talked about Bina being an emotional force, not being able to play. Now he’s back and playing as a senior.
A: He’s still an emotional force for us. He doesn’t say much, but he’s one of the most popular guys in the locker room and one of the most competitive guys. It’s a great story for the young man to see him back and for his family. He’s one of the driving forces on our hockey team, and the injury is only part of it. He’s certainly a leader for us.
Q: Goals have been hard to come by in the conference. Are we going to see a goaltending duel throughout the tournament?
A: Playoff hockey is hard to predict. If you predict a defensive struggle, you’ll see a 6-5 shootout. All the teams in the Final Five have outstanding goaltending and take a lot of pride in their defensive play. To get through the first round of the playoffs, you have to be playing good defense. Goals have been tough to come by, we’ve been scoring 3 goals per game and that’s near the upper end of the league.
Q: Duncan, Hobey last year, maybe this year wasn’t quite at that level.
A: Ryan has really lived up to everything the Hobey Baker Memorial Award is all about. His numbers have lived up, his consistency is as good as last year.