Well that was fun.
From Thursday to Sunday I got to enjoy four MIAC Playoff basketball games as my travels took me from Concordia College in Moorhead to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. And fortunately, I got the entire Concordia-Saint John's men's hockey game on the radio on my drive across MIAC country. It was certainly an action-packed week of postseason action, and the fun doesn't stop there.
Our final MIAC Winter Playoffs begin tonight, as the puck drops on the 2012-13 women's hockey tournament. No. 5 St. Catherine swept St. Olaf to claim the final spot in the field, and the Wildcats will open the postseason at No. 4 Bethel tonight. No. 2 St. Thomas will host No. 3 Concordia in one of two Thursday semifinal games.
The other semifinal will feature MIAC regular-season champion Gustavus, hosting the winner of tonight's 4/5 matchup. The top-seeded Gusties completed just the second perfect romp through the MIAC regular season, going a perfect 18-0 en route to an unbeaten, 24-0-1 regular season and a No. 2 national ranking.
The conference championship is Gustavus' 12th overall, and the ninth in a row. This week, the No. 1-seeded Gusties will try to make it a 10-peat and win their 10th-straight MIAC Playoff title. With the Playoffs about to begin, the MIAC Media Blog caught up with Gustavus Head Coach Mike Carroll for another installment of our Championship Coach Q&A.
MIAC Media Blog Championship Coach Q&A
Mike Carroll, Gustavus Women's Hockey
MIAC: First question, how does it feel to win another MIAC Women’s Hockey Championship? What are some of the qualities that helped your team win a share of the conference championship again this season?
|Gustavus Women's Hockey Coach|
CARROLL: It feels good. I am sure most teams would have the goal of winning the conference at the top of their list, so in that regard, I am very proud of our team. But, it's not our only goal. We will put it on the back-burner for now and focus moving forward.
We have a group of players that work extremely hard. We may not have all the best skaters, shooters, passers, defenders, save-makers, etc., but I am pretty confident Monday through Saturday nobody works harder for a common goal.
MIAC: Who are some of your players that have been catalysts for your success this season, especially some players that fans might not know about just from looking at the stats?
CARROLL: Well, It would not be fair to single out some and not others. It takes everyone from the top players to the role players, as it's a team sport. On top of that, our training staff and assistant coaches deserve a lot of credit.
MIAC: Your team graduated some excellent seniors a year ago, but have recorded an even better record in 2012-13. How were you able to replace some of the production and leadership your team lost a year ago? How has it felt to be ranked in the top two in the nation for nearly the entire season?
CARROLL: Every team graduates seniors, so it's to be expected that turnover happens. Those seniors you are talking about collectively left their mark and set the example for the younger ones. They set the table for those coming back, which really helps them step up their roles and, in turn, successfully lead the new faces to get on board.
It feels good to get some positive recognition from your peers, as it's a coaches poll. But, on the flip side, that's all it is. So in the big picture, it means very little.
MIAC: This year you won your 300th game, to go along with more than 300 wins as the Gustie baseball coach as well. At this stage in your coaching career, what do those milestone wins mean to you and the Gustavus program?
CARROLL: That's an interesting question, I'm not sure how to answer that. I guess for one, someone has to have faith in you to give you a chance to reach that milestone. Gustavus has given me that opportunity. Our players have consistently responded year in and year out, through thick and thin. On the other hand, I do take a extreme amount of pride in having a unique job. Not every women's hockey coach can say they are the head coach in two sports.
|Gustavus is going for its 10th-straight MIAC Playoff title.|
MIAC: Looking ahead, give us a preview of the 2012-13 MIAC Women’s Hockey Playoffs. Last year you were able to beat a good Concordia team in the finals after a hard-fought semifinal game. What do you expect out of this year’s tournament?
CARROLL: Each year the tournament gets better and better. The Women's game continues to grow. What do I expect? We will have our work cut out for us no matter who our opponent is in the semifinals.
MIAC: Thanks a lot to Coach Carroll for joining us, congrats to the Gusties on another title, and good luck to all five teams in the 2012-13 MIAC Women's Hockey Playoffs, which begin tonight with No. 5 St. Catherine at No. 4 Bethel. Make sure to follow all the action of the women's hockey tournament on the MIAC's Playoff Page, and track all the scores and follow the action live on the MIAC Scoreboard, which will also feature links to live stats and broadcasts.
It's shaping up to be a fun week in the "State of Hockey!" Also ... fans should check out Gustavus' promotional video for women's hockey ... it's awesome.