Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Michigan State Defenseman Daniel Vukovic

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Michigan State defenseman Daniel Vukovic pays a visit to "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The defending NCAA champion Spartans face Miami November 16 and 17.

Daniel Vukovic

Normally known as a stay-at-home-defenseman over the course of his career at Michigan State, Daniel Vukovic has been an offensive force for the Spartans thus far in 2007-08.

In the first eight games of the 2007-08 season for the defending NCAA champion Spartans, Vukovic tied for the team scoring lead with 10 points on two goals and a team-high eight assists.

The season-opening scoring outburst comes on the heels of a junior season that saw Vukovic earn team Most Improved Player honors as one of only four Spartans to play all 42 games of Michigan State's NCAA championship campaign. He posted a career-best 12 points on seven goals and five assists, and led the Spartans with a plus/minus rating of +18.

After playing 18 games as a freshman, Vukovic became a regular in the lineup as a sophomore, playing 43 of 45 games as Michigan State captured the CCHA title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.

A native of North York, Ont., Vukovic is a finance major at Michigan State. Before arriving in East Lansing, Vukovic spent two seasons with the St. Michael's Buzzers of the Ontario Provincial Junior "A" Hockey League.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Daniel won't be stopping by until 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 13th, 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: Good afternoon, and welcome to another edition of "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV and USCHO. We have two defensive-minded chats today, so let's get started. Joining us now from the defending NCAA champion Michigan State Spartans, senior defenseman Daniel Vukovic
Daniel Vukovic: Hello, everyone - thanks for sending in questions. Can't wait to see what you've got for me!

Chris (Detroit): Dan, one of the questions facing MSU coming into this season was the young blueline. As the most veteran defenseman on this team, how do you see the youngsters developing as the season continues?
Daniel Vukovic: We have a youg, but mature, group of guys back on defense. By doing the little things right to start the year and working hard in practice, we'll grow to be a very strong team defense.

Rob from Plymouth, MN: "Vuk" you had a "breakout season" last year and are already off to a great start this year. You've got a canon from the point. I know you are a "Team Guy", but what are your personal goals this season from an individual statistics perspective? Go Green and punish the the Maize and Blue!
Daniel Vukovic: Last year, i did have a bit of a breakout season - things really did start to go my way offensively. I worked really hard this summer to get better on the "little things" to help improve my game both defensively and offensively. Regarding personal goals, the main one would be to be getting back to the Frozen Four. With team success, individual success follows. As long as I can keep contributing, I'll be happy with any stats that come my way.

Terrell, Dallas: Hi Dan, Your skating has improved drastically over the past 3 years, almost to the point where I hear whispers of comparisons to a Spartan great, John Michael Liles. How do you handle the expectations of living up to that pressure? Thanks Dan, Terrell
Daniel Vukovic: Well, regarding the skating, a lot of people have helped me out - especially former captain Chris Lawrence, by teaching me the finer points of a proper stride. As for the expectations, I feel like if I just play my game, I can contribute.

Shane (Detroit): Do you think your game has elevated to a new level this year? What, if anything, does playing with the very talented freshman Jeff Petry have to do with it?
Daniel Vukovic: I do feel that I have elevated my game, both defensively and offensively, this season. I think it has to do with being a year older, and working really hard this summer. Jeff Petry is an extremely talented player, and is really easy to be paired with. His skill level and talent will only help my game.

Chet (Davenport): Daniel, how did you like playing in Grand Forks and what did you think of the Ralph? Best of luck this season.
Daniel Vukovic: I thought the arena atmosphere was one of the best Ive played in in my life. The Ralph is an amazing facility - it has everything a hockey player or fan could want in a building.

Roy H., Toronto: Dan, With your emergence as a scorer, and the success of the team, how are you handling the Hobey Baker talk and the constant barrage of NHL scouts to see you play? It can't be easy, do you maintain a strict diet? Thanks Dan! Roy H.
Daniel Vukovic: With regards to the Hobey, the team frontrunner would have to be my classmate Zak McClellan...Seriously, playing with talented players like Tim Kennedy and Jeff Lerg - those are the guys that should be getting some recognition nationally.

Phil (Livonia): What are you expecting out of this week's series against Miami? They've been a very good offensive team so far this season.
Daniel Vukovic: Miami is a premiere team in the nation - you know that they are going to come in looking for two wins. Both nights will be a battle. They have a really strong offense, and their defense is very strong as well. I think we match up with them - it should be two entertaining games for the fans this week.

Sam (Southfield): How does the Thursday-Friday scheduling on a football weekend like this change the team's routine?
Daniel Vukovic: It doesn't really make a difference playing Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday - both teams will have had enough rest and will be ready to play. When you look at your schedule for the year, its games like this that you really get pumped to play in - whether the series starts Thursday or Friday, it doesnt change anything.

Joel L. (Markham, Ontario): Hey buddy! Congratulations on the great start to the season, everyone here has been keeping track of your games thus far. Have you had any contacts about continuing your hockey career next season? We would love to see you keep playing!
Daniel Vukovic: Well, Joel - Thanks for the congrats. So far, im just focusing on this season, leaving the decisions about next year until later on.

Timmy (Dutch Habor, AK): will the spartys go bowling this year or will they have to wait until the second year of the dantonio regime?
Daniel Vukovic: I have faith in Spartan Football and Coach Dantonio. I look for a big victory this weekend against Penn State - 34-21 Spartans! With that win, it will put the Spartans in a bowl, and they will make us proud.

Dwayne (Lisbon): How has the team avoided resting on their laurels of winning a national championship?
Daniel Vukovic: Last year was a great experience and a great time for all of us. The guys returning all know that if we really want to do something special, we can't sit back and think everything will be given to us because we won it last year. Senior leadership, the maturity in our locker room, and a strong captain, I believe, have led us to a strong start.

Okemos, MI: Another national championship?
Daniel Vukovic: The team goal is obviously to put ourselves in the situation to have a chance to win another one. We have to realize that each week is as important as the next, no matter who the opponent. We have to keep improving week by week to put ourselves where we want to be at the end of the year - Denver, with a chance to win it again.

East Lansing: Dan, you've typically been known as a defenseman that loves to chip it off the glass, and out of the zone. Did you work hard on your offensive abilites over your career at MSU to find the back of the net more consistently?
Daniel Vukovic: I've gone on the ice every practice to work on my shot, usually with Jeff Dunne or another teammate. I still consider myself a defensive defenseman, but have been able to develop an offensive game as well.

Travis (Novi, Michigan): How do you think the fans at Munn can get it back to its glory days?
Daniel Vukovic: The student section has grown - and hopefully will continue to - since I got here. I hope the fans realize how much of a difference they can make in a game - and how much the players do appreciate them. When there is a good atmosphere in the building, the players do actually feel like its a boost - it helps get everyone going.
CSTV.com Moderator: That's all the time we have with Daniel this afternoon...he has practice.
Daniel Vukovic: Thanks, everyone for the questions ... and in the words of Spartan SportsZone host Dave Ellis .... GO GREEN!!!
CSTV.com Moderator: That'll do it for the first of our "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats...be sure to come back at the top of the hour for Harvard's David MacDonald.