Monday, February 13, 2012

2/11 Mercyhurst Postgame: The Players

Sophomore goaltender Matt Madrazo

[Guy] Gadowsky was telling us about you and P.J. [Musico] had a competition for starting in goal last week, I guess it was?

Yeah, the last couple weekends, we play a little game at the end [of practice]. Ten pucks on the blueline, just breakaways. I’ve not been doing well in it, and obviously playing the second game on the weekend, but what more can you ask for?

Do you think that’s healthy competition between you two?

Yeah, absolutely. Personally, I’d rather play the first game. Throughout the season, Saturday games, the team’s always tougher to play against, and it’s kind of been weird games every Saturday, but what can you do?

When you’re playing on Saturday too, you kind of get a chance to watch the opposition first. Do you think that helps as well?

It helps, but every game’s a different night. If you beat a team 10-1 the first night, you know you’re not going to do that again the second night. This weekend, we did do well both games and we ended up sweeping the weekend, which is good.

Would you rather face more than 12 shots in a game?

Yeah, I mean, this whole season so far, for both of us, it’s kind of been…they get a flurry, then it’s five minutes off, they get a flurry, then it’s five minutes off. It’s rough, but I mean, nothing you can do about it.

Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?

Not really. I’d rather just be relaxed and play it cool. The more you think about it, the more you’re going to mess up.

Have you noticed that [Gadowsky] doesn’t look you directly in the eye before games or anything like that?

Someone told me today, and right as he walked out of the locker room, he goes ‘Madrazo, it’s your game,’ and he looked at me right in the eyes. And everyone looked at me like ‘oh my God,’ and I guess – I didn’t know about that until this afternoon, and I guess, I don’t know. [laughter]

Yeah, we asked him last night.

Maybe he looked at P.J. and not me, since he sits next to me, but I don’t know.

Can you say anything about the home winning streak? You guys are [17-0] at home now; you can go to [19-0] to finish up the season.

It’s a great place to play. Every night, the fans come, they’re bringing noise. It’s just fun to play here. It’s just a good atmosphere. Playing at Ohio too. We do well when there’s a lot of energy in the rink. You go to some of these rinks, and they’re dreary and there’s nobody in the stands. It’s tough to get up for that. But when you come here, go to Ohio, there’s energy. Everyone’s pumped up to play, and that’s when we always play well.

Any idea how the rotation might go with two Friday-only weekends coming up?

I couldn’t tell you, I haven’t known the whole season. I mean, one day I get a shutout and he plays the next day and he gets a shutout, and I play – no idea. It would be nice if a goalie got on a roll, but it hasn’t happened this season.

Do you think not having a definitive starter has an effect on the team?

No, not at all. It’s good that they trust both of us in the net and that our defense has confidence, and we have confidence in our defense. As I said before, we trust each other. As you can see with Oklahoma last weekend, we went down 3-0, maybe I didn’t play my best game, I kind of messed up a couple times, but the forwards got me back for that, which is good.

When do you typically know if you’re starting on Friday?

Thursday afternoon, so right before Friday night’s games, he says ‘P.J., you’re going first game,’ and I’ll play in the second game.

Did you see the slash on [Justin Kirchhevel]? After that, how difficult is it to not want to retaliate?

Today, it definitely shows how much more of a mature team we are than a bunch of other teams in this league. A lot of the teams in this league would go up on them, and they’re just going to take stupid penalties. You could see even against Oklahoma too, they took a stupid penalty at the end of the game, and we ended up winning. It just proves what the coaches instill in our minds, that he says ‘success with honor,’ so we’re winning a game 9-1 and [Chris] Cerutti gets hit from behind. Kirchhevel gets slashed. And we keep going, keep going on.

Sophomore forward Bryce Johnson

What can you say about getting two goals in your first series back?

It was a nice feeling. Yesterday, I was a little rusty. It was nice to be back out there yesterday, but then finally, to get that first goal back, it felt great. Hopefully I can keep that going for the rest of the season and through nationals.

You mentioned that you felt a little rusty yesterday. Do you feel like you worked it all out today?

I’m getting back there. I’m not back to my full potential yet, but like I said, I’m getting there and every game’s going to be a new step for me. I think I played pretty well today and yesterday, just the bounces haven’t been going my way yet. Hopefully in the next few weeks those will turn around.

So what exactly do you think is the biggest thing? Do you think your speed’s not there yet, or are you still feeling weird with the puck?

I think my speed’s fine. I think it’s more my hands. I think I got a little rusty in that department. I’m just going to have to work hard on that this week in practice, and I’ll just keep working hard and everything will work itself out.

How do you feel out there with [Taylor] Holstrom and [Michael] Longo?

I like playing with them. We’re a fast line and we get pucks to the net. Yesterday we didn’t get anything showing from the scoreboard, but we worked hard yesterday and today, things were working our way and we put a few in the back of the net.

You said you guys had a good day today, you hope that continues and to play with them in the future as well?

Yeah, whatever Coach wants, we’re willing to do what he wants to do, and I don’t mind playing with them at all.

What do you think is the difference between playing with [the guys you’ve played with before] and these guys now?

It’s all chemistry. It just depends how players play. As you guys can tell, Kirchhevel and [Tommy] Olczyk play well together, and we’re hoping me and Holstrom can work together just as well. Today I think we showed that we’ve got some chemistry there, and the next few weeks of practice are going to be huge for us to find our full chemistry and hopefully we can get going really good before nationals.

[Mike] McDonagh was added to the Olczyk and Kirchhevel line. What did you see in that line? Do you think that’s an effective line?

Yeah, I mean, McDonagh’s a big guy, and he’s going to the net hard. He’s a big body, and guys aren’t going to be able to move him in front. Olczyk and Kirchhevel, you guys can tell, they’re going to pucks to the net and they’re going to put them in the back of the net. It doesn’t hurt to have a big guy like [McDonagh] in there who’s going to clean up the rebounds and screen the goalie, get his eyes.

Freshman forward Tommy Olczyk

You used to play with Holstrom and Kirchhevel, and that line was really effective, you guys have the most points on the team as a line, what was it like playing without Holstrom on that line?

It’s definitely different at first. That’s obvious, right there. We got some work in at practice this week with McDonagh at center. He’s one of the hardest working guys on the team in practice. You watch him out here, he’s always driving hard to the net, he’s always making it difficult for the goaltender. As different as it is at first, it’s really fun to play with new guys and to develop chemistry with other guys on the team.

Were you surprised when [Gadowsky] said you wouldn’t be playing with Holstrom?

I wasn’t really surprised, because with Bryce coming back I knew that was bound to shake up the lineup a little bit. Now we have four solid lines, any line we put out there is really effective offensively and they’re not a liability defensively. Whatever’s best for the team, and it worked out for us this weekend, so we’ll get a little bit more work at practice with our new lines this week, and next week, and gear up for nationals.

Do you expect McDonagh to continue to be on your line?

There’s no reason why things would change now. He proved this weekend he could play with Kirch and I, and it worked out, and Coach kind of looks like a genius, I guess. Maybe not, but a little bit.

What can you say about Johnson coming back? What do you think he brings to the team now that he’s back in the lineup?

He brings a lot of speed and a lot of skill. He has great vision out there, he works hard, like I said, he’s a really fast skater, he puts himself in the right areas. You look at that play that him and Holstrom had, that 2-on-1 where they just turned that defenseman inside out, two skilled guys like that on the ice at the same time, it’s fun to watch.

Good to get one early on the power play, since that’s been kind of an issue?

It definitely is. Personally getting a little monkey off my back there, I’ve had some chances in the past few games but haven’t been able to bury. I stopped in front, and Kirch made a great play getting the puck to the middle, passing it to McDonagh, McDonagh passed it to me back door, they don’t get much easier than that. It was great, and our power play was pretty effective tonight, so that was good to see as well.

You said it doesn’t get much easier than that, but was that goal you scored seven seconds into the second period the easiest one of your life?

I’ve scored a few empty-netters. That puck came off the boards hard! I had to be really strong on my bottom hand there. Seven seconds into the period, it was big for us, that’s for sure.

You guys are [17-0] at home, and in the next two weeks only have one game a week. Are you worried that the change wit no Saturday games might affect your home play?

I’m not too worried about it. I saw what Coach said in the paper about it, about him upping the tempo in practice, which is definitely important and I think everyone expects that. We’re used to playing two games on the weekend and now we’re playing one for the next two going into nationals, so it’s definitely going to be more high-tempo practice and I’m sure we’ll do a little extra conditioning. We’ll do something as a team I’m sure these next two upcoming weekends, whether it’s climbing mountains like we did earlier or whatever else. But it’s definitely going to be important to do a little extra something, and I know we will.

Do you know anything about Kirchhevel’s injury, what happened there?

I didn’t see what happened at all. I was backchecking because they had a rush going the other way, so the next thing I knew, the whistle blew and I turned around and saw Kirch on the ground. So I am not 100 percent sure.

Do you think not having a definitive starting goalie has any effect on your team?

I don’t think so. We have two great goalies. You look at teams that win the Stanley Cup, it’s because they have 1-A and 1-B goaltenders. You look at the teams that are successful now, and yeah, some of them have a goalie that plays almost every game like in New York they have [Henrik] Lundqvist, and he’s a heck of a goalie, but come any type of playoffs it’s important to have two good goalies. Luckily we have that.

Is it good sometimes to just get those games over with when it gets rough at the end there?

You know, it definitely is a relief to get those games over with. Guys start taking runs at you; we’ve seen it with many teams we’ve played this year. I don’t want to say I’m used to it, but it is a little frustrating getting out there, being up however many goals we are – a bunch of goals – and having guys seem like they want to hurt you. That’s not how the game is supposed to be, and that’s not how it should be, but unfortunately, it happens at every level. So it’s definitely a relief when the time runs out, that’s for sure.

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