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Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Alaska Fairbanks Head Coach Tavis MacMillan

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, October 18 at 2:00 p.m. ET, Alaska Fairbanks Head Coach Tavis MacMillan enters the "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. UAF squares off against in-state rival Alaska Anchorage in the first weekend of the Governor's Cup Friday and Saturday.

Wayne Wilson

In his first season as head coach, Tavis MacMillan took the University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey team where they'd never gone before. This year, he'll try to take them even farther when he starts his second year as UAF's head coach after succeeding Guy Gadowsky in 2003. MacMillan led the Nanooks to a 17-16-4 record last year, a trip to the Super Six and a third place finish at Joe Louis Arena.

A former Nanook star, MacMillan spent seven years as an assistant coach at Alaska Fairbanks (1996-2003) after playing professional hockey with the Alaska Gold Kings of the West Coast Hockey League. MacMillan served as a player and assistant general manager in 1995-96, earning second team WCHL honors.

The Nanooks' fourth leading all-time scorer with 192 points, MacMillan tied teammate Dean Fedorchuk for the NCAA scoring championship with 74 points in 1993-94. He served as an assistant captain that season while earning Most Valuable Player and Scholar-Athlete honors and graduated from UAF in 1995.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Tavis won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, October 18th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Welcome back to the second half of today's "Tuesday @ the Rink" doubleheader. We are now joined by UAF Had Coach Tavis MacMillan.
Coach MacMillan: Hi, everyone It is great to be here. I'm looking forward to your questions.

Matt (Springfield, MA): What does a weekend like you guys had last weekend do for your team, especially in terms of recruiting?
Coach MacMillan: Obviously recruiting is based to a certain degree on exposure. The fact that we went into a place like Minnesota, the top ranked team in the country, and had success - with the exposure and media attention a program like Minnesota gets, it draws attention to our program. Because of that and our success in those games, we get recognition that helps immeasurably in recruiting.

Reid, Fargo ND: With your outstanding weekend at Minnesota as proof, would you care to share your secret on how you prepare your team for the long trips to the rest of the U.S.?
Coach MacMillan: It is absolute 100% rocket science. Actually, we prepare for trips like any other game. Our guys are used to the travel. The media and the lower 48 make our travel out to be a bigger deal than it really is. We offer and ask our players for no excuses. Trips can be of great value in many different ways, more specifically athletically, acadamically and socially. The players look forward to trips as a way to get away from the time demand outside of academics placed on their time while here in Fairbanks.

Duluth, MN: Coach MacMillan, I had the opportunity to watch your team this past weekend against Minnesota. Why do you think you had success against a team that has 11 NHL draft picks when UAF only has 1? Thanks, Larry Swanson
Coach MacMillan: I think that is the great thing about competitive sports - it is never played on paper. In our conference with schools like Michigan, Michigan State and all the others, we play teams with many NHL draft picks every weekend. Looking at this series specifically, you can look at two players. Kris Chucko is a first round draft pick of the Calgary Flames and is going to be a great player. His former teammate, Ryan McLeod, is undrafted but had an outstanding weekend this past weekend. Ryan is a great college hockey player, but is 5'10" and thus went undrafted. But he is an elite college player, as is Kris Chucko.

Steven Dyck: What are your thoughts on receiving a first place vote in the polls?
Coach MacMillan: I didn't look to see who votes on those polls to try and pinpoint who might have given us that vote. I do know that I don't have a vote, so it wasn't me. Polls are great and obviously a first place vote is nice, but we are far from being a first place team. First place teams are teams that have had success over a long duration of time. If we want to be considered and arrive in the Top 10, we have to prove we deserve that over a long duration of time. That is the only way we will deserve to be mentioned with those schools. We would like to think that are on our way.

Dave Geringer (North Dartmouth, MA): As tough as your schedule is early, how important is it that your team continue to play as well as they did last weekend, with big series coming up at UAA and at home against Michigan?
Coach MacMillan: It is very important. As difficult as it is, I like our schedule the way it is laid out. We have very little opportunity to look past the coming weekend, with the series at Minnesota, followed by the Governors Cup at Anchorage. Little needs to be said about how important our rivalry with UAA is. Thus looking ahead to our series with Michigan, who is now ranked No. 1, really isn't an option because of the Governors Cup.

Eugene Schnieder: In terms of your success as a hockey coach, who have been the most influential people.
Coach MacMillan: There are a lot of people who deserve credit. First and foremost, any credit for my success has to be attributed to my assistant coaches and staff. As far as mentors, the names that come to me immediately are Guy Gadowsky, who I worked with for four years and is a very passionate coach who absolutely loves the game. I was also fortunate to work for Dave Laurion, who I was with for three years and played under for one. Without a doubt, Dave is one of the nicest and kindest gentlemen I have ever met and is someone who always did things the right way. Past coaches who have had an influence are Don Lucia, Bob Loucks and Stu MacGregor.

Darren (Med Hat): I know it is a nice situation to be in, but what are you going to do with your goaltenders this season? To split your tenders and come away with CCHA rookie of the week (Johnson) and goalie of the week (Rogers) must be pretty special for the program.
Coach MacMillan: It is a great situation to be in. However, we have only played two games. So to place so much pressure on Chad Johnson, who has played just one game of college hockey, would be premature. Chad is going to be a great goaltender in time. But Wylie, on the other hand, has proven he can do it for a full season already. Wylie came into this season having captured several honors including our team MVP, CCHA All-Rookie Team and CCHA All-Tournament Team. Our team is very confident in both goaltenders. Wylie will start Friday at Anchorage and we will go from there. Now, Darren, get back to teaching your class.

Rick (Omaha): Coach, with Michigan, Michigan State, Fairbanks and UNO, our cluster may be the most talented in the CCHA. Do you think all four teams could make the NCAA tournament after playing each other four times each?
Coach MacMillan: If you look at the history of clusters in the CCHA, there is a correlation with clustermates making it to the CCHA Super Six. With the way strength of schedule, RPI and power rankings work, and the quality of teams in this cluster, absolutely.

JC (Briarcliff Manor, NY): Do you make any attempts to recruit players outside of the Western U.S. and Western Canada. If so, how hard of a sell is Fairbanks, Alaska to those players?
Coach MacMillan: Every program has their recruiting dollars. You have to make decisions on where do we spend these dollars and what are the best investments to make. We have learned over time that certain areas give us a better return on those investments than others. Throw into that simple math and geography and the areas where we are recruiting make the most sense to us. I grew up in Western Canada. I will take a Fairbanks winter over many of the cities and towns I have lived in in the past.

Mark (Talkeetna, AK): Coach, how important is it to be playing a major rival this weekend, so that you know there won't be any letdown in intensity from the series at Minnesota?
Coach MacMillan: It is great. Just look at the first three weekends on our schedule - at Minnesota (the No. 1 team in the country), at Anchorage (the biggest rival your program has ever had and ever will have) and then home to Michigan (who presently is the No. 1 team in the country). If you are not prepared to play those three series, you don't belong in Division I college athletics.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time Coach has today.
Coach MacMillan: I had a great time. Thanks for making it so enjoyable and for your support of UAF hockey.
CSTV.com Moderator: Join us again next week for another edition of "Tuesday @ the Rink". Keep checking back to find out who our guests will be. See you next week.

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