This week’s player interview is goalie Eric Williams. Eric has started this year off on fire with three straight shutouts (Akron, Tennessee twice), and has shown great improvement from last season to this one. He will look to keep up the great play as the season starts really hitting its stride.
1: Having spent a year in this system already, how do you think the team has grown from year one to year two with this coaching staff?
EW: After one year in the system with the new coaching staff there have been numerous ways that the team has grown. The two things that have had the biggest impact would be the intensity that is brought to practice, which translates to games, and better team chemistry. Even though we are two weeks into the season, the team chemistry is the best I’ve ever seen on a team.
2: You’ve been on an amazing run with three straight shutouts to start the year. Did you make any changes to your off season training or game/practice preparation that has helped you get off to such a great start this season?
EW: This summer I put in a ton of work so that I could be better prepared for the season. Over the summer I would get up and go to a personal trainer where I worked on footwork and movement, then would go home and have lunch, and after that I would go to the gym to lift and workout more. To say that it has been a factor in my success would be an understatement.
3: The team plays really good defense and is physical. From a goalie’s point of view, how does this help you out and make your job easier?
EW: From my point of view, the physicality is huge because throughout the game the team is able to go in the corner and win the puck or hit a guy before he is able to enter the zone and get a shot off. This is instrumental in having more puck possession and reducing the amount of shots that I have to face during a game. This physicality is what leads to good defense and making my job easier.
4: Can you put into words what it means to you, and the team, to play a home game to a packed crowd that is loud and rowdy?
EW: There is no way to put that into words except for us it is what we dreamed of growing up, playing in front of a sellout crowd. Leading up to home games during practice you can see the extra energy in the team. On game nights it gives us a home ice advantage as we are amped to go play in front of the best fans in college hockey while opposing teams are intimidated by the rowdy atmosphere.
5: If you could spend a week with a NHL goalie and learn from, who would it be?
EW: This is an easy one, it would be Braden Holtby without a doubt. I was fortunate enough to work with his goalie coach, Mitch Korn, a few years ago and learned a lot about what makes him successful. To be able to work with him for a week would be a dream come true.
6: What are some things you like to do in your spare time?
EW: In my limited spare time I always like hanging out with the boys on the team. I also enjoy golfing, fishing, and going to other UK sports events.
7: What has been your favorite moment since being a member of the UK Hockey Club?
EW: I have a ton of good memories, but since I have to single one out it would be my first shutout against Akron. I had come so close three or four times last season, letting only one goal in. Putting all of the hard work in during the offseason and seeing it all come together for my first shutout was something special for me.
8: Do you have anything you’d like to say to the BBN?
EW: Thank you for all of the support during the season, the BBN truly is the best fans in college hockey. The rowdy crowd creates a home ice advantage that can’t be matched.
I want to thank Eric for taking the time to do this and congratulate him on his early success this season. You can see Eric, and the whole team, this Friday night at the Lexington Ice Center as they take on hated rival Louisville. Make the place shake by coming to the game and being loud!! Game starts at midnight. So come early, be loud, and be proud. GO CATS!
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**pictures sided with permission of UK Hockey**