A Conversation with Ron Mason
Spartans' hockey coach prepares MSU for a title run
March 26, 1998
Following Michigan State's first-round sweep of Ferris State and again after the Spartans' CCHA championship win, head coach Ron Mason took some time to reflect on the season to this point and to look ahead to the NCAA tournament.
Question: You had won seven CCHA playoff championships before last weekend, but that one was certainly a special one wasn't it? Ron Mason: It's games like that one that stick in your mind and make memories. I said after the game that it reminded me of our playoff championship in 1983, when Ron Scott stopped Brian Hills on a penalty shot in overtime and we went right back down and scored the goal.
Q: This team has won every championship it has played for. Was the CCHA playoff title just a case of climbing the next rung on the ladder?
RM: Our guys have been good about taking each challenge as it comes to them and they have had success with those goals. In this game, both teams were tired, but for one reason or another we persevered and were able to get the goal. This team knows how to win, and there wasn't a guy in the room who didn't think we would win that game.
Q: Looking back at the year as a whole, you led the league in both goals for and goals against. What are the explanations for that?
RM: I think the scoring defense is pretty attributable to a senior goalie and experience on defense. Our offense is attributable to having an outstanding freshman who contributed more than we ever thought he would and two centers who we were counting on heavily, and they have really come through.
Q: How important is it to have two players like Sean Berens and Mike York, where your top line may be different every night?
RM: The ideal is to have three lines like that, and in given games I think we have. But if your best players are all playing on the same line, they are a lot easier to stop than if they are playing on different lines.
Q: The cornerstone for your team has been Chad Alban. Talk about Chad and what you see as his Hobey Baker Award qualifications.
RM: His numbers speak for themselves. To post those kinds of numbers at this level of hockey is almost incomprehensible.
The things the stats don't tell you, though, are how hard of a worker he is, what a great athlete he is and what a competitor he is. All of those things contribute to his success. We talk so much about his puck-handling ability, but that comes from his athleticism. He's also capable of the big save. That's the crucial thing for any goalie