Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Insider Interview...Dan Wildfong

The Brahmas head coach talks about where the team is at, the addition of Hiebert to the team, the power play situation and more

I spoke with Fonger after the game on Saturday night. The Brahmas had just had a great win and everyone was feeling pretty good. I asked Dan several questions about the team after the first six games and with a 3-2-1 record to start the season, what it's going to take to keep winning. Here is our conversation.

Q: You're ending the month of October with a couple of big wins...what is your feeling about where the team's at now?

A: I truly believe we've got some work to do but I think, you know, our young guys are really progressing and our systems are starting to come...you don't jump in here and have this turn around and have this many young guys without expecting some growing pains. I think we're just getting together and gelling and I think this is a big win for us, obviously it brings everyone together when you get a late win like we did.

Q: What is your feeling about James Hiebert's role on the team?

A: I think he just adds a lot more confidence to our team. It's kind of like when we brought Saunders in; he gave us a little swagger, which is what we needed at the time. I think we've got a lot more to give some guys and Hiebert just, you know, he takes that, basically that fear and puts it into a few players - they're not just going to run and gun us, try and run us over. He will fight and he is a good fighter. I fought him. I didn't like it (laughing). So, I think he'll do a great job here and hopefully keep producing on the ice as well.

Q: Allen is no longer undefeated, thanks to the Brahmas. They're a good young team that Macker and Mullins put together. After three games, and the first in nine meetings in the regular season, what's your feeling about the Americans and how they're doing so far?

A: I think they have a fantastic team. They have a lot of skill over there and they work hard too. They finish hits...I was very impressed tonight. It's a team we're going to have to make some adjustments (for) but I feel that we can give a little bit more too in our game. We weren't 100% going and when we weren't, we had some big saves by Palmer and he kept us in it in the second period. The shots were 23-5. We know as a team that we've got to play a team game and if we're not playing a team game, we're an easy team to play against. I think once we realize that game in, game out, we'll be fine.

Q: Speaking of Palmer, he had a great night last night (against Bossier-Shreveport); he let in four goals but he made some great athletic saves and he's really doing a great job with Brett out and then tonight, a big difference in tonight's shootout versus his first shootout in Mississippi. How do you feel about how he's progressing with his game?

A: I think he's doing a fantastic job. He's a very likable kid; the guys love him and he works hard. Jaeger is out there and with Ronnie - Ronnie's helped these two goalies out a ton. What I like about him is his work ethic and his commitment to get better and when you have that in a good young goalie, and he starts to get wins like this, he starts getting confident. He's a big kid and obviously he didn't get drafted for no reason. He obviously can play, so we're happy he's here and hopefully he keeps developing and we help get him to the next level because that's what it's all about.

Q: Any concern about the power play at this point?

A: I think we can pick it up. We've been working on it all week. We got two big power play goals this weekend. You know, that last one at the end, we didn't draw it up that way but, it still needs a lot of work and it needs commitment from our players to work on it hard in practice. When you don't work on it hard in practice, it's not going to happen in the games. It is still early yet, but we've still got to focus on it and that's one thing we've got to tighten up because it can win or lose your games.

Q: Two big games against Mississippi, one in Southaven and one here; now you're going back to the Desoto Civic Center on Tuesday. What are your thoughts on facing them again?

A: I felt like we played them really well down there in their barn...I thought we had tons of scoring opportunities that we just didn't finish We work hard and we have chances. I'm not going to give the guys S*#t, you know, sometimes it's just bad breaks, but at the end of the day...you know, we came back here and I didn't think we had our best effort in our home opener and that's unacceptable. I feel like we're starting to get a wave going here and guys are starting to buy in to everything we're preaching and selling. Once we do that, I think we're going to be a really good team and hopefully a great team that's holding the Cup at the end.

Q: I want to end on a light note...how are you guys liking the new bus; how are the boys liking it?

A: I think they're loving it. Obviously, it's part of our ownership's commitment to step up and take care of the guys and make this one of the best organizations to play in. You know, guys really enjoy playing here and our ownership's always trying to do the extras. We obviously have some fond memories of that old bus that got us to a championship but you know, this bus is pretty nice and we'd like to thank them.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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