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Athlete of the Week: Zach Quinn

December 14, 2016

Zach Quinn had a strong week in goal for the Falcons to help get three big wins for the struggling men’s hockey team. The freshman goalie from Westland, Michigan, recorded two shutouts this past week as UW-River Falls swept Finlandia University 2-0 on Friday and 1-0 on Saturday.

He recorded 35 saves in the two games on the road in Hancock, Michigan. Quinn also saved 27 shots in the Falcons 3-2 win over Bethel last Tuesday. His performance earned him WIAC Hockey Athlete of the Week honors.

The Student Voice sat down with Quinn to discuss taking over the goalie position mid-season and the team’s important three road wins as the team takes a month-long break from games.

Q: When did you take over as the starting goalie?

A: After the first period of the St. Mary’s game (our fourth game).

Q: Was it an easy transition to starting in goal or was it challenging at first?

A: It was kind of challenging because I was a transfer student from the University of Alaska Anchorage. I committed there to play but I didn’t pass the NCAA clearing house so I had to take a whole year off of hockey. But the practices leading up to the games got me back into game shape. Getting into the game, it’s a lot quicker than juniors, but once you get in there and settle down you’re back to your normal self.

Q: What has led to a slow start for the team this year?

A: Consistency was our thing at the beginning of the year. We would come out and play a few good periods, and then some periods we would have a couple of breakdowns. It’s starting to turn around now so hopefully after break we can keep this win streak going.

Q: What has been happening differently in these past three games to get close wins?

A: We’re sticking to the structure Coach Freeman teaches us. Some of those games we would start doing things ourselves and that would lead to some bad things, so we’re doing a lot better at the structure. We’re working on the little things that people were missing before because we have a lot of freshman and seniors, so it’s hard to get on the same page at the beginning of the year.

Q: What has been the most consistent part of the team’s game so far this season?

A: Our penalty kill and defense. Our defense the first couple of games was still feeling each other out. But after the second game everyone clicked in the back end from the penalty kill to the whole defensive group.

Q: What is the hardest part about being a goalie?

A: Being mentally focused every single game. You go from playing Stevens Point, who is the top ranked team in the nation, to playing Finlandia, who hasn’t won a game all year.  Every game you have to treat the same and be mentally focused.

Q: What is the strongest part of your game as a goalie?

A: Being able to slow the game down when it needs to be slowed down. The guys talk to me during the game, when to slow the game down, and that helps a lot. There’s times when the offense gets caught in the defensive zone and you need to get a good change and get everyone relaxed again.

Q: Has having a pretty experienced team helped the young players get through this opening rough patch?

A: The senior group has been good leaders for the younger guys. They are able to settle everyone down and have team meetings to talk about things.

Q: What needs to continue to improve to be competitive in the WIAC as the conference season heats up?

A: We believe that we’re competitive in the WIAC all year. Even after the first two games against Stevens Point and Eau Claire, we’ve definitely competed with the top teams. We’ve shown we can stick in a game with them and just need to make little adjustments during the game.