For those just stopping in at Canes and Coffee for the first time today, you have some catching up to do on tonight’s match up between the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Tar Heels and the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
That’s right. A hockey match up at PNC Arena.
If you are red-inclined, find your NCSU-slanted game preview from earlier today HERE.
If you are blue-inclined, find your UNC-slanted game preview from earlier today HERE.
And aiming for a non-biased 50/50 split in terms of coverage, the companion ‘Coach’s Corner’ with NC State Coach Mike Gazzillo is HERE.
If you are catching up on either of the local teams, I also encourage you to check out Carolina Hockey Central for UNC hockey coverage and the NC State Hockey team page for NC State Hockey coverage.
As we build toward puck drop at 7pm at PNC Arena, Canes and Coffee aims to check in with each team’s coach in advance of the big game tonight.
From Jeff Volkman, GM/Head Coach for UNC Hockey
Canes and Coffee: How is your team’s 2016-17 season going thus far?
Jeff Volkman: We had a rough start due to injuries and illnesses that gave us a short bench to an already short 22 man roster. Facing adversity early in the season made our team stronger. In fact, as of today, we have 3 players (concussion and 2 upper body injuries) injured going into this game tonight vs NC State and lost our leading scorer Alex Stephenson who was a fall semester international student. The younger players have had to step up into roles that they may not have been put into otherwise and the maturation process developed at a faster rate. With an 0-5 start, the players showed their discipline, strength, and trust in the process and rallied for a big division rival win vs Duke. We continued to battle injuries up until we lost our beloved coach Richard “Lefty” Marr. The loss of Lefty was obviously devastating to our team, but once again the players stared adversity in the face and have battled through it. Lefty was a great hockey mind and an even greater person. We had a long talk with the team and talked about our loss, and the great life he had. We decided to dedicate the rest of the season to Lefty and we have since won 6 out of our last 7 games starting with NC State in their arena. Our goal which is to win the Admiral’s Cup hasn’t changed, and now the players have even more motivation within this process.
Canes and Coffee: In addition to the rivalry and bragging rights, what is the significance of Thursday’s game for your team?
Jeff Volkman: I feel that this game is bigger than our team. College hockey in North Carolina is being showcased on a big stage to many hockey fans who may not be aware that there are hockey programs in the 3 big schools within triangle. It is big games like these that receive national attention, and it helps in recruiting and the growth of our program.
Canes and Coffee: Who is the leadership group for your team and what can you tell me about these players?
Jeff Volkman: AJ Hamel is our captain and is a great leader both on and off the ice. He has the respect of every player and coach and has a selfless approach that motivates his teammates day in and day out. Brendan Radatovich is the glue on the ice and has the capability to take over a hockey game. Vincent Boudreau is a silent giant and a seasoned veteran. He leads by example both on and off the ice, and he led our defensive core for the past two seasons. Ben Sisesmore brings a lot of control and discipline to the team. He’s a gifted and smart hockey-minded player that is dedicated to improving the team every day. Joe Baglio is workhorse on the ice and leads by his work ethic in practice and in games.
Canes and Coffee: Which players lead your team offensively? Which players lead on the defensive side of the puck?
Jeff Volkman: We’ve been a team by committee for most of the season and as a coach that is very satisfying. The players have bought into the systems and owned their roles on the team. This process has helped us battle through the adversity we faced earlier in the season and has brought us to 6 wins out of our last 7 games. Offensively, we have threats from Brendan Radatovich, AJ Hamel, Ricky Chen, and Andrew Jordan. Defensively, we have the offensive-minded defenseman in Vincent Boudreau, and we have Ian Hawkins and Nick Keith as veteran stay-at-home defensemen.
Canes and Coffee: To win on Thursday, my team must ____.
Jeff Volkman: Stick with simple play, have discipline, trust our systems, and outwork NC State every shift for 60 minutes.
Canes and Coffee: With a familiar opponent, can you name a player or 2 from the opponent that fans should watch?
Jeff Volkman: Sam Banasiewicz and Luis Gimenez-Madill.
Canes and Coffee: What is it you hate most about the opposing team and its fans? (looking for something lighthearted and friendly here :-))
Jeff Volkman: That they support the wrong school!!! 😎
Canes and Coffee extends a big thank you to Jeff Volkman and UNC Hockey for being generous with their time and helping Canes and Coffee cover today’s game.
The puck drops at 7pm. A small group of us from Canes and Coffee are hoping to be there early, so please ping Twitter if you are there and want to meet up and say ‘hi.’