The Brahmas head coach talks about the defense, the enforcer and where the team is at right now
Shortly after the Brahmas 3-0 win over the Allen American, I sat down with Dan Wildfong to talk about the team’s performance at this point in the season. OK, I'm a little late in posting this, but I have family in town and I've been a little busy lately. Anyway, here is our conversation.
Q: With the injuries and changes in personnel, specifically on the defense, how do you feel the boys are playing?
A: Tonight was unbelievable. I think everyone played really good hockey. We all bought into the systems tonight and it’s real tough, especially with new guys coming in; they’re doing a heck of a job for us. We just have to continue to keep working and keep playing Brahmas hockey and that’s what we did tonight.
Q: There’s been some really good stories of guys coming in and making an impact. For example, you had Todd Paul who came in and didn’t even have his own equipment to play with due to a mix-up with the airline. So he plays with some borrowed stuff and does real well…
A: These guys are jumping in and playing, not just 10 or 15 minutes – they’re playing like 25 minutes. So it’s not like they’re playing here or there for 60 minutes. It’ll be nice for sure when we get healthy.
Q: How is it you’re getting some of these guys who are able to come right in and make a contribution?
A: We kind of got a break on Seibel. We made a trade at the beginning of the year when we let Merlini go to Tulsa, and we had futures from them. We’d been looking for D and we knew Seibel had just been let go in the East Coast League. You know, guys get lost out there sometimes. You just keep trying to hunt them and Seibs – I think he’s going to be a great player – hopefully we get him up another level but I think he’s going to be a great player for us for a long time.
Q: You brought T-bone (Tim Laurila) out of retirement to help out on defense. I know he’s been active coaching and this and that but he had a lot of playing time tonight and seemed to do pretty well for a guy who’s been out for a season and a half. Were you surprised?
A: I know T-bone – he just wants to do whatever he can to help the team. He just kept things real simple and that’s all you have to do. It was pretty good of him to come out and compete the way he did. It’s not an easy job to play at this level and against that team over there (the Americans) and step right in after not playing for a while. We’re going to bring him on the road and keep asking him to do the same thing.
Q: Nathan Perrott was an impact signing to say the least. It seems to me that other teams have been behaving themselves a little bit more now that we have Nathan on the roster.
A: Nathan’s been trying to ask guys to fight and really no one’s obliged him yet, I think. He just has that presence out there – you know, he polices things pretty nicely and that’s something we didn’t have up until the end of the year. You can see that people aren’t taking liberties on us right now. That’s what he’s here for and he can play too. He’s not just a fighter.
Q: You’ve moved Skworchinski to D – he and Burto have been backing up the blue line for a while now – and we’ve seen a great performance from him, a great performance tonight. How do you feel about how Skworch is doing?
A: He’s playing unbelievable for us right now and logging a ton of ice time. He’s playing on defense, on the power play, playing every situation; Five-on-three kills…he’s a real valuable player to us. You know, the puck wasn’t going in for him at the beginning of the year and now it’s starting to find the back of the net. He’s a value to us, to be able to put him back on the point, but he’s playing so well up front, it’s hard to put him back there (laughing). So we decided to keep him up front tonight and it paid off.
Q: Joe Palmer has really been doing an outstanding job. He was fantastic tonight, especially in the first period and then all the way through – another shut out. How do you feel about him?
A: He’s a kid that has a lot of drive right now and wants to get to that next level. He just competes hard and he’s a competitor – he gets in a zone and he wants to win every game and doesn’t want to let a goal in. I love that about him. He’s got that competitiveness in him like no other, so we just have to continue to keep both goalies in – we’ve got Jaeger who’s ready to go now and he’s feeling great and we’ve got to just keep them both pushing each other keep them both healthy.
Q: We’re more than halfway through the season now and it’s time to make a run for the playoffs. Do you think it’s all coming together now – I know there’s still a lot of work to do – but do you think you’re on the way?
A: Yeah, like tonight, obviously it was one of our better games. I’m just looking for a little more consistency out of every guy. I think we’re starting to get it from them – about 80% of the guys. There’s just a couple of guys that are not giving it every night but tonight they did and that’s what we talked about after the game…we’re in too tight a playoff race…so every shift, every battle means something. You’ve got to be prepared right off the bat.
Photo Credit: Robert Keith