Saturday, November 14, 2009

After the game...a few minutes with Dan Wildfong

The Brahmas head coach talks about the win against Amarillo and the state of the team after the first 12 games

I sat down with Dan Wildfong shortly after the Brahmas victory over the Amarillo Gorillas. Here is our conversation.

Q: I saw the Brahmas come out aggressive and sharp in a way that I haven't seen so far this season. Was there anything in particular that got the boys fired up?

A: We just haven't been happy...the way we've been battling and competing. I know, obviously we got Hiebs in here; he does a great job for us and Sellars, we feel he got a little cheap shot at the beginning and he went and fought. Guys were talking trash to Deitsch and then Hiebs goes in and fights. We've got to start being a team where we're hard to play against and we're not going to get pushed around. I think we're starting to identify who we are a little bit, as a team. We've been making a lot of moves. It's tough to figure out who you are - who's coming in, who's not coming in. I've got to get the right guys in here too and I feel like we're getting real close.

Q: Any player can come right in and play the game of hockey, but do you think with the changes that you've had so far, some guys weren't able to get on the same page?

A: Oh, definitely. We thought we were doing pretty well with losing some of the guys we lost...we thought we were filling holes and it didn't work out for some reason, so it's nothing against those guys, it's just something that - we pay attention to details. It's pretty tough here; it's not an easy place to play.

Q: It's been a rough start, really the worst start compared to the first two seasons. Do the guys get into a funk, into a mindset that affects the team as a whole if they're not kept in check?

A: Oh yeah, that's one thing we talked about. There can't be any pointing fingers...we all have to stick together. We all have to be a team. And if you get away from that and start pointing fingers, know, we didn't go through may struggles last year and right now, we're off to a slower start than we anticipated. But I think there's a little learning curve there too for guys that were at their peak last year who thought they could come in and do the exact same thing as they were when they were at their peak but it took a lot of hard work to get there and I think we kind of took it for granted.

Now, guys are starting to get back to the basics of what made it successful...chipping out, stops and starts, battling, winning battles. It's the first night tonight that I was happy with how many battle we won. We've been losing those battles consistently and its just not acceptable here. We talked about that and I think the boys responded well and especially, you know, I was really happy with some of the guys I called out, and they stepped up and that's what it's going to take all the time.

Q: I wanted to ask you about Hiebert - were you surprised Roscoe was willing to let him go from Laredo?

A: I don't know the whole situation there. I know he was a free agent. I always loved the way Hiebert played. He play with his heart on his sleeve and he'll protect his teammates. He obviously got 64 points (in his last full season, 2007-08). He's not a bad player (laughing). Anyone would would want a 64 point guy. I think he just adds that element of...a little bit of fear and the boys kind of feed off that. Obviously, he's not a heavyweight but he's definitely a guy that will fight. I fought him and I didn't like it (laughing).

Q: Was Luke (Sellars) brought in to be an enforcer?

A: Not necessarily an enforcer but he will step to the plate and you know, if we see that we need more, then we'll have to get it but right now, we've got to go with these guys and hopefully we can get the job done tomorrow night. We can't look any further than tomorrow night. We can't look at what our record was; it's got to be what we're going to do.

Q: Cooper, coming over from Shreveport was kind of a surprise. What can you say about bringing him in.

A: When we played against Cooper, he was a top end forward for Shreveport and he burned us a few times. I think he has a lot of speed and tenacity and he's got a little touch on the net. I think that's what we needed when you're playing with Jay...and it looked like they had a little bit of that going. They seemed to find each other; I think they're only going to get better.

Q: You're in the middle of a stretch of conference games and points are golden, especially going into December. Do you think everybody has the right amount of focus at this point?

A: Well, that's our job and we have to continue to get these guys focused. We felt like this year, we gave away way too many points ourselves. I think we were lazy in areas and we scored a couple in our own net...we're going to generate goals this year by working hard and getting tough...last year I think we generated a lot more "pretty plays." It's a whole different make up. You can't look at last year. We have to look at what we have this year and build it from there. It has to be everyone of those guys buying in that this is our team now.

Q: Matt Burto is such a work horse. He's always out there grinding and I think, unselfishly working hard; he's not a big goal scorer but that was fun to see him breakaway and score on Brown the way that he did...

A: I just told the boys in there in the locker room, I was like, this kid sits out, battles through injury at the beginning and he continues to stay positive. He practices hard, battles hard...he makes our team better and when I sat down and talked to Burts, I said are you willing to do whatever it takes to be here and he said yeah and he has. That was a big goal for us. We needed that goal. I'm proud of the way his attitude is and the way he continues to work for us and we're going to need him all year to do that. It's not just one game.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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