UNO Hockey Coach Mike Gabinet answered media questions as part of the “Omaha Athletics Weekly Media Availability” on Dec. 11, 2018. Players were not a part of this week's video stream.
Gabinet fielded questions regarding the UNO Hockey team’s series at St. Cloud State on Dec. 7-8, and the upcoming series against Alaska-Anchorage on Dec. 29 and 31 at Baxter Arena.
NOTE: Early on in this week’s media availability, Coach Gabinet fielded questions about the sudden death of his sister in Canada last week (from a brain aneurysm). Those comments aren’t transcribed in this post. Our sympathies go out to Mike and his family during this difficult time.
If you would like to watch the news conference, you can do so here.
TAKING STOCK OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON HEADING INTO THE HOLIDAY BREAK...
GABINET: “Nobody likes to hear it. Everybody is results-driven. Just to focus on one week at a time and continue to work with our guys. I believe in this group. I believe in the guys we have. Sure, certain guys have to be better. We all have to get better. They’re coming to work everyday. They’re trying to get as good as they can be.”
GABINET: “We just talked beforehand here we’ve had the second-strongest schedule in the country. Fourteen out of our first 16 games are against a team that’s ranked 17th or higher. When you’re playing teams like that every weekend, and you make a mistake... I thought we were playing really well on Saturday... came out against St. Cloud and all of a sudden we make our first mistake of the game and it’s in the back of our net... and then you battle back to tie it. Then boom, they come back.”
GABINET: “I believe in what we’re doing here, and I know nobody’s going to work harder than our guys, and nobody’s going to outwork our staff. You’ve just gotta keep moving forward. You gotta keep grinding.”
THINGS YOU NOTICE ABOUT “RESET” POINTS...MOMENTS WHERE THE TEAM HAS TO FIGHT BACK DURING A GAME...
GABINET: “That’s the level that is the area of growth for us and our players is just how dialed in you have to be every shift.”
GABINET: “You gotta break it down into smaller segments. If we play like certain times in the game against St. Cloud, we’ll be okay...we’ll be competitive. But it’s those lapses that happen — and then the lack of confidence when something bad happens and not being able to respond to it.”
GABINET: “Whether it’s your first three shifts of the game, or right after a goal, you have to have a certain mindset where you can’t have a mental lapse or not be engaged to 100 percent of your capabilities. Against teams like St. Cloud, they’ll make you pay for it. So that’s something we’re working on still is shortening the segments up so you’re not worried about the game. You’re not worried about the period. You’re working one shift at a time. One habit at a time.”
GABINET: “It can’t just be three good shifts and then one bad shift. And then three good shifts and one bad shift. You gotta get to that consistency where you’re able to play a certain way for 60 minutes.”
HOW DID THE TEAM REGROUP AFTER ST. CLOUD’S FIRST GOAL ON SATURDAY?
GABINET: “What can you do, right? I mean, it’s out of your hands.”
GABINET: “Trust me. We’ve yelled. We’ve screamed. We’ve been upset — and at the end of the day, it’s about getting better and moving forward.”
GABINET: “As much as you want to reflect on the past — and make excuses or point fingers — it doesn’t do you any good.”
GABINET: “Like I said, I believe in these guys and I know they’re going to put the work in that is necessary. I know our staff is going to do the work that’s necessary. That’s what we’re focused on.”
GABINET: “It’s demoralizing when that happens to you. You battle back to tie, and ‘boom’ — 30 seconds later they get it.”
GABINET: “We have to develop that consistency — that mental toughness. At the end of the day, it’s going to serve our program well. Because when you’re playing 14 out of the 16 games against top 17 opponents and you haven’t even got to the hardness of your schedule yet, there’s not room for non-mentally tough people. So, we’ve gotta keep grinding.”
HOW DO YOU TREAT THE HOLIDAY BREAK?
GABINET: “For me, being in college hockey the last four or five years, it’s a second season a little bit because of the extended break over the holidays that you get in college athletics. So it’s really important that we give the guys a chance to go home and refresh, and I think that’s always good for everybody — including the staff.”
GABINET: “I think it’s good for everybody to step away for a little bit and reenergize and come back with a focus and a hunger to keep getting better.”
GABINET: “[Important] to work on their fitness level, and to work on some individual things and the mental side of things, too.”
GABINET: “It’s a little bit negative term, but ‘What are you doing if you’re not scoring goals?’ So, what part of your game can you bring every game that’s going to contribute? I think that’s a big, big question for our team, and for our players. They need to be able to bring certain things to the table, if it’s not involving goal scoring. If you only think you’re contributing by scoring goals, then it’s going to be a long season. Because there is so much more to the game.”
GABINET: “When you’re playing against these top opponents, sometimes a win is not letting them score. It’s something we’ve challenged our players and our staff to do over the break here.”
ON THE SUBJECT OF UPPERCLASSMEN — SPECIFICALLY THE SENIORS — WHAT SORT OF LEADERSHIP CAN THEY SHOW, IN ADDITION TO GOAL SCORING?
GABINET: “For instance, one of the guys — I’ll single him out — is Zach Jordan. He’s been struggling a little bit the last eight games or so. We had a great talk on Friday night. He’s just a great example of a guy that recognizes he’s not playing well, and talks about it.”
GABINET: “A lot of guys at this age will always come up with excuses why it’s somebody else’s fault and ‘Well, if I’m playing with different guys, it’s going to be different’ and things like that.”
GABINET: “The type of kid [Zach Jordan] is he says, ‘Coach, I gotta be better. I gotta be better to help the team out.’ We talk about how to get better and we pick three things that don’t involve goal scoring. Whether that’s hard in the forecheck or hard in the neutral zone, being ready on faceoffs. Some things that don’t involve a lot of confidence to execute at a high level, but are in your control. So he started basic things like that.”
ON THE FACTOR THAT ST. CLOUD’S OLYMPIC-SIZE ICE SHEET PLAYED...
GABINET: “You can see some of the individual ability on their players that they’ve obviously recruited well for that ice sheet. They know how to use the five-man cycle. They know how to manage the puck. They know how to do all those things out there.”
GABINET: “I thought at times we were better on Saturday than on Friday. But again, it’s not good enough.”
GABINET: “Five minutes or seven minutes of good hockey doesn’t last against a top team in the country. You’ve gotta be able to do that consistently for 60 minutes and then you have a chance at success.”
ON THE OPPORTUNITY TO ATONE AGAINST ST. CLOUD IN FEBRUARY...
GABINET: “I think you’ve gotta get hungry. That’s the competitive nature that you have to have. If you want to be successful at this level, you gotta be competitive. You gotta want to win.”
GABINET: “I believe in our guys and we can be good too. We just have to do things that most teams won’t want to do for a chance at success.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE ALASKA-ANCHORAGE SERIES AFTER THE BREAK?
GABINET: “I think it’s important. Obviously, it’ll be a quick turnaround. I think we play on the 29th. The guys are coming back on the 26th.”
GABINET: “That’s why it’s important that our guys take care of themselves over the break, and come back ready to roll here.”
GABINET: “Very, very important that we recharge in the break, but we’re focused and ready to roll here in the second half — because it’s going to go fast, and it’s going to go quick, and we gotta be ready.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAYERS GOING HOME OVER CHRISTMAS BREAK...
GABINET: “I’m one of those guys that loves to work. I think I’ve seen my family — I’ll probably get emotional talking about it — but just not enough. I think I was gone for — I did the math — I saw my kids for like 18 hours over the last two weeks with the recruiting and the travel schedule. It’s crazy.”
GABINET: “Same with our guys here, they’re away. In Omaha, we’re not in a hockey hotbed where there’s a lot of people from an hour or two away, like in some other colleges. We’ve got guys from all over the world here.”
GABINET: “Very, very important that they go and spend time with their family. Those are the people that love you the most, and they know what’s really going on. I’m really excited for guys to get some time at home with their families and enjoy it.”