June 12 postgame quotes: Mike Stothers

On Manchester’s Game 4 response after dropping Game 3:
Well, you know what? Our guys have been pretty resilient all season long, and we know we’re playing an unbelievably good hockey team, and we knew we could be better, and tonight we played pretty well.

On the “pivotal” five-on-three penalty kill:
There’s all kinds of pivotal situations. That was key for us. Your special teams have got to come through, whether it’s your power play, you’ve got to score, or if you’re a penalty killer, you’ve got to get the job done. Dowd’s done a great job for us all season long, and one of the many things he does is be a really good penalty killer for us. Real strong on faceoffs, and the guys were fearless in the fat that they were willing to sacrifice their bodies, block some shots, and you know what? It’s just a matter of staying the course. They did a pretty good job.

On whether there’s any excitement being one win away from the Calder Cup:
No, because we’ve accomplished nothing thus far. We’ve still got to win four to win a championship. Pretty quick after the game I addressed the guys, and our guys are pretty businesslike after wins, and they’re pretty businesslike after defeats.

On the importance of taking the crowd out of the game early:
I personally, I don’t think that’s an issue, because it actually gets us going. I mean, that’s the beauty of playoff hockey, the passion from the fans. It energizes everybody. I mean, I can’t wait to get out there. If I knew I wasn’t going to fall flat on my ass, I’d be running across the ice. It’s just playoff hockey. It’s terrific. I mean, that’s what you want. You want people in the building. You want them making noise. You want them having a good time. That’s what you get here in Utica. It’s great.

On whether he recalls his Calder Cup win with the Maine Mariners in 1984:
Yeah, I think back about it a lot. When you do win a championship, it’s a special time. No matter how many years go by, you reflect back, and you remember your teammates and what they had to go through. We had a fellow by the name of Jeff Bandura who was a healthy scratch throughout the playoffs, and every time we came off the ice between periods, he’d be sitting in the dressing room, dressed right up, skates, jersey, everything on him, and he’d be pumping up the guys, and he’d be the most enthusiastic guy, and he always said, ‘You gotta believe. You gotta believe.’ So a guy like that, I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. A coach like Tom McVie, I’ll never forget. Great man. There are so many good memories, guys. Just to be in the Finals is pretty special, and both teams should be very proud of their accomplishments after a long season to be playing here in June. It’s a great championship with two great teams.

On the unheralded play of Sean Backman:
Well, you guys don’t talk about Backman because you keep asking about injuries. So if you want to spend more time, I’ve got all day to talk about players. Last time you got me excited when we were talking about Kempe. Tonight, you want to talk about Backs? You got an hour? I’ll put in an hour. We’ll talk about him. Terrific. Little ball of energy. He’s great. Great leader. Great inspiration. Plays hard every game. Plays big. And he just does a terrific job for us as a veteran on our hockey club.

On whether this was the best job of creating turnovers all season:
Aw, jeez. I don’t know. [Reporter: You turned ‘em over a lot.] I mean, it’s part of the game, and things happen quickly in this rink. You know what? Our team has been a skating club all season long. That’s when we’re at our best is when we’re skating, and I’m sure Utica’s the same. We play very similar styles. I think it goes back to our parent teams. If you look at L.A. and Vancouver, there’s a certain way that they play, in that conference especially, and we’re mirror images of our parent clubs. Both teams.

On Patrik Bartosak earning a win in his first playoff start:
That’s why you have a goalie, a second goalie. Barto’s come in and played really well for us all season long. This young man, the growth that he’s had from the start of the year to where he’s at right now, he came out of junior with great credentials, but he had to learn the pro game. It was probably a little bit slower development than he would have liked. Everybody likes to be in the net, but it’s a process here in the American Hockey League. You’ve got to bide your time, and you’ve got to earn your [playing] time. He improved his practice habits to the point now where he’s a professional in how he approaches things, and he’s given us some real solid games in the absence of J-F. We’re very happy with the progress he’s made, and certainly we’re very comfortable and confident in Barto.

On Brian O’Neill being ready to step back into the lineup:
I knew that he was. He’s not going to be denied. He might be more miserable than I am. You guys think I’m bad at talking to, you should see Oney in the morning when he comes into the rink. He just likes to play. He’s a competitor.

On the fourth game of a championship series being the most difficult to win:
Here I am talking to you guys, and within about 10 or 15 minutes I’m already thinking about tomorrow and video and what we’re going to do. The preparation never ends because we know that we don’ have anything until we have four. This Utica team, you watch that team, they’re damned good. I think this has been unbelievably good hockey, the passion that you can see on the ice between both clubs tonight, the refs are trying to break up scrums, you can’t hear each other talk. I mean both teams are just laying it out on the line. It’s going to be another battle. We’re going to be here for a long battle, boys.

On his assessment of the second period:
My assessment of the second period? It was pretty good.

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