Time for a pep talk, or for a little inspiration? With UNO having lost five straight home games during a 2-5 slump when the only wins were at last-place Alaska-Anchorage, who better to check in with than the senior co-captain? The Mavericks entered last weekend tied for third in the WCHA, one point out of second, but slid to sixth place, one point ahead of Denver, after being swept by Wisconsin 4-3 and 6-2. UNO tries to secure one of six home-ice berths for the first round of the WCHA playoffs during a series this weekend at Minnesota-Duluth and the leadership of Gwidt, a forward from Minocqua, Wis., should be a focal point.
Q: Could you have imagined going into the weekend that things could have turned this much?
A: You don’t want to watch the standings too much. You just want to keep playing your best and keep getting better weekend by weekend, because we want to be playing our best hockey come playoff time — whether we’re on the road or at home.
Q: What was the feeling in the locker room after the game Saturday?
A: Losing (five) straight at home is frustrating, but I think we’ve got great character in our locker room. We’ve got great leaders. We know how to bounce back from things like this. We’re all grown men. We’ve had ups and downs. That’s what hockey season is all about. I think we’ll be just fine. We’re going to come back Monday, put (Saturday’s) game in the back of our minds, and do our best to finish our season strong.
Q: What did you say to the guys?
A: Put it in the back of our heads and keep going. It was a tough loss, especially on Senior Night. But we didn’t lose to a bad hockey team. We’ve just got to keep going because we’re not out of home ice yet. We’ve still got something to shoot for, and it’s a good thing. Home ice is tough to get in this league. We were picked eighth and we’ve been near the top all year. We’ve had a little bit of a slump lately, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to be able to get home ice and do some damage.
Q: Do you think you guys put too much emphasis on (Saturday night), put too much pressure on yourselves to get a win?
A: I thought we had a really good week of practice and executed pretty well. It just didn’t follow through into the games. We’ve got to go with the same mentality this week. We’re going to a tough place to play in Duluth, and they’ve been playing pretty well. We just need another good week of practice and to finish off the regular season. Ultimately we’re looking at home ice. That’s what we want the most right now.
Q: Down 6-1 early in the third period, does the team’s confidence get shaken by that, or can you just chalk it up to one bad night?
A: I guess it was just one of those nights. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Wisconsin. They played a good hockey game. Being a defensive team, it’s probably a little bit easier like that. Packing the house, blocking shots, it’s real easy to do that on the road. But the third period wasn’t the last period of the season. We’re not in the playoffs yet. It wasn’t do-or-die. You have to play with pride, work on getting better and don’t develop bad habits.
Q: What, if anything, do you guys need to do differently this week?
A: I don’t think we need to change anything during the week. If we have a good week, we’ve got to make sure we execute those areas during the game instead of playing with speed and passion in practice and letting it slide during games. If we get down a goal, we need to keep our heads up and keep going.
Q: Last year’s scenario (losing four straight to end the regular season and missing out on home ice), is that in anybody’s heads?
A: I don’t think so. Obviously everyone knows what happened, but you don’t want to compare last year to this year. We’ve just got to keep going.
Q: How disappointing was it to have your biggest loss of the year on Senior Night?
A: It’s tough because since I’ve been here we’ve usually done well on Senior Night (1-2, with one of the losses in overtime). We’ve put a lot of time and effort into the program. But that wasn’t our last game, and hopefully we’ll get home ice and get to play here again. I want to keep spending as much time as I can with these guys.
— Rob White