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March 20, 2014

Tom Anastos

Greg Wolfe


Ohio State – 2
Michigan State – 1

THE MODERATOR:  We'll start with Michigan State Coach Anastos.  Opening comment from you.
COACH ANASTOS:  It was a hard‑played game.  I thought we got off to a good start.  Certainly Ohio State turned it up a notch in the second period.
I thought our energy level was a struggle most of the night.  That's not to take anything away from them.  I thought from the first period we possessed the puck better, in the second and third we were chasing a little bit more, which was kind of an energy drain.
But it was a one‑shot game.  All of our games with them have been.  Unfortunately, they got the one shot that mattered.
It's a good win for Ohio State and a disappointing loss for us.
THE MODERATOR:  We also have Michigan State forward Greg Wolfe.  We'll take questions first for Greg.

Q.  Your coach said the energy level seemed to drop off after the first period.  What happened after that first period?
GREG WOLFE:  Well, I think we took a couple penalties towards the end.  That really got their game going for them.  They're a really good power‑play team.  They generated some good offense, gave them some confidence.
I think they took that momentum with them into the second.  We were weathering the storm in the second.  I thought it was anybody's game in the third and overtime.

Q.  How did the team play from start to finish offensively and defensively?
GREG WOLFE:  I thought we battled hard all night.  I thought that the early lead, we had a lot of momentum.  I thought that we responded after that goal and we carried the momentum through the majority of the first.
Then the penalties, again, kind of cost us a little bit.  I mean, we fought all night.  That's the best thing looking forward.  I think that this team has showed a ton of resilience this whole season.  We have nothing to hang our heads about.  I thought we've been battling so hard week in, week out.  You know, sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes you don't.
We had a one‑goal game.  We've been within one goal of this team four times this year.  Could have come out either end.  Unfortunately, we got the raw end of the deal.

Q.  (No microphone.)
GREG WOLFE:  No, I didn't really see that one.  Their goalie made some good saves in the third.  That power‑play in the end, Darnell had a good chance, made a good save.  We had a chance in OT he made a good save on.  He played well.
I thought Hilde had a great game.  That last goal was what it was.  But we had three guys in the middle trying to block the shot.  That kind of speaks to the character of this team and our identity.  Guys were sacrificing all night.  If nothing else, that's a great positive for the guys going forward.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Greg.
We'll continue with questions for Coach Anastos.

Q.  The way your team has blocked shots all season, were you surprised to see one get through kind of a crowd like that in overtime?
COACH ANASTOS:  Guys were laying it out.  We made it very difficult all night to get shots through, really.  We just got caught out there in a long shift.  Guys were tired.  I think they were in the midst of a change to get fresh people out.  That was a mad scramble.  That's how sometimes goals go in.
Our effort was really good.  I can't question the effort of anybody on the team.  When you talk about blocked shots, guys would lay it on the line, they have all season long, it's part of the team's identity.  I thought they were doing everything they could in that last scramble to do it.

Q.  Earlier this week you mentioned your team would have to play some desperate hockey.  Did you see that desperation from your team and from Ohio State?
COACH ANASTOS:  Yeah, I did.  I thought there was a desperation.  I did think, though, what happened during the course of the game was, when we got a couple penalties, and our penalty killing was pretty darn good tonight, it takes you out of rhythm and uses a lot of energy from some key guys.
If we had more depth in our penalty killing unit, it might be different.  A lot of the zone time that you spend expends a lot of energy.  While they didn't score a power‑play goal ‑ I don't think they did, right ‑ it used a ton of energy of both our defensemen and our five forwards that we were using up front.  It takes you a little bit out of rhythm.
I thought the effort was really good.  I didn't think we had a lot of really good performances tonight, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort.

Q.  What makes the matchup between these two teams so even?
COACH ANASTOS:  It's obviously real even.  The goaltending has been very similar.  Tonight's game for us kind of epitomized our season, a reflection of our season.  We struggled to score goals.  When we're scoring three or four goals, we have a chance to win.
I was really hoping after we got off to that one‑goal lead, we could have built on it.  We never could get over that hump.  That would have been big for us.
But, you know, the similarities are both teams play hard.  I think they have some offensive experience on their team that we just don't have right now.  But both teams play really hard.
After probably a tough period for them, the first period, I thought they bounced back and played really hard in the second, third and overtime.

Q.  You've been head coach for Michigan, been to Detroit.  What are your thoughts of the arena here, the atmosphere?
COACH ANASTOS:  Haven't really given much thought.  The people have been great, very gracious.  The Big Ten people have been outstanding.  You know, obviously the crowds are going to be something that's going to have to take time to build.  There was a long‑standing tradition here.  Those things don't happen overnight.  The proximity of the schools to the locations is not accessible to the old league structure.
The Big Ten does everything first class.  I'm sure we'll learn a lot from our first go‑around in this event.  This is a terrific venue.  The people are terrific.  So for me, outside of losing the game tonight, it's been a very good experience.

Q.  Yanakeff has been playing really well lately.  Putting your confidence in Jake, the way he responded, what did you see out of him?
COACH ANASTOS:  You look at a variety of different things, one of which is maybe who's playing well at a certain time.  But I also think it's important to look at a full body of work.
Jake has been our go‑to guy all season long.  I think he was ready for it.  I thought the way he played tonight, he gave us a chance to win.  That's what we need out of him and that's what we've grown to expect out of him.
I think he played a real good game for us.

Q.  What are your thoughts on the season going into the off‑season?
COACH ANASTOS:  I thought our team, while it doesn't show in our record, has made huge, huge progress in one season from the previous year.  We had a huge turnover in our roster the year before after having lost a lot of players to graduation, one player to the NHL, Krug in particular who made a big impact on our team, not just in his play, but his leadership.
This year, you know, we kind of limped out of the start.  We had a couple really key injuries that was hard for our team with not a whole lot of depth to overcome.  It took us a while to get going ‑ more time than I hoped.
At the same time, as I told our team at the end of the season, this is a miserable feeling to end your season with.  Sometimes you got to look at statistics in a certain way.  But I know that we took a big step in our team getting better.  A lot of guys gained valuable experience.
I look at some of the guys who made an impact in Ohio State's game tonight in their season, and I remember when they were freshmen and sophomores, and watched them get better and better.  That junior class made a very significant impact for their team.
I see players on our team that are just going to get better and make a greater impact as they gain experience.
I know where we're headed.  I like it.  It's just disappointing to end today 'cause Wolfie mentioned it, this has been a very resilient group.  We've had some tough losses, tough ties.  We fought through some injuries.  Yet these guys came to the rink every day and played really hard.
More than anything else, I was hoping that they could have some season‑ending success right here.  So I'm very disappointed for the team and for the seniors in particular.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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