Dec. 23, 2013
University of Michigan men's ice hockey senior captain defenseman Mac Bennett (Narragansett, R.I.) reflects back on the first half of the 2013-14 season, looks ahead to the Great Lakes Invitational and talks upcoming conference play.
General thoughts on how the team has played in the first half:
"After last year, we struggled a bit in the first half. We knew this year we wanted to come out with a little more fire. I think we've done that so far. We've beaten some pretty good teams, but at the same time we're not satisfied. We still have another level in our game, and we're still trying to get there."
On starting the season with a win over then-No. 4 Boston College:
"It was so huge. Boston College being the tremendous program that it is, to come out in our first game and have a strong game against a strong team -- that set us on the right path. We all knew that we had to get up for that game. Luckily for us, we ended up on top and we rode that confidence through the next few games."
On having 11 of 14 games decided by one goal or less:
"It keeps us on our toes, that's for sure. We'd like to be beating teams by a few goals, so we don't give ourselves and our coaches a heart attack going into the third period. But you've got to be ready for close games. I think we've done a good job when it comes down to a tie game and there's a few minutes left, or we're in overtime, we can find that next level and finish teams off."
On team's play on defense (ranked 6th nationally at 2.07 goals allowed per game):
Red preaches this all the time. It's not the offense that wins championships, it's the defense. He always says that if you look at the teams that win national championships that the team with the lowest goals-against and with good goaltending and the team that keeps the shots down, those are the teams that end up on top. Luckily for us, we've had two phenomenal goaltenders with (Steve) Racine and (Zach) Nagelvoort. We know that whoever gets put in, we've got a pretty good chance right away every night. We have a young defensive corps, that's for sure. But they've been able to find another level to their game and surprise some people. But again we're not satisfied. We'd like to keep the shots down more in the second half, but we're on the right path."
On how the 10 freshmen have fit into the program thus far:
"I think when you have this many freshmen, they need to step in and play like they've been here before. From my standpoint, the young guys that we've had on defense have been phenomenal. We're already halfway through the season so these guys aren't really freshmen anymore. Up front, those guys have brought a ton of energy. They're happy to play. They're pumped to go out there and beat teams and it's rubbed off on a bunch of us. When you see guys like JT Compher and Tyler Motte scoring game-winning goals -- that psyches everyone up. If they're doing it, everyone else has to step up and do the same."
On the upcoming Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park:
"The GLI is the start of our second season. We want to make sure we get off on the right foot. With it being outdoors, there's a little bit of pageantry to it and guys should be excited about it. But we also have to remember that these are just games, and we've got to win them if we want to get off to a good start after the break."
On getting into Big Ten conference play in the second half of the season:
"It's going to be crazy because every team can play. You're playing in places like Wisconsin, like Minnesota, like Michigan State, all these places that are fun places to play, and not only that, will be televised nationally. It's going to be good for our program, good for college hockey in general. I think it's something that everyone should be excited about."
Contact: Jeffrey Weinstein (734) 647-8170