Radio broadcaster Dan D’Uva [@Dan_DUva] interviewed Syracuse Crunch goalie Adam Wilcox after the net-minder made 48 saves en route to a win against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday. Listen to the entire interview on ESPN Syracuse.
In case you missed the game, here are the highlights.
For the sake of clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phases “and,” “but,” “uh,” and “so.”
D’Uva: If you listened last night, you probably got the sense I was a bit exhausted because of all the shots on goal from the Phantoms and the goals that were scored by the Crunch in a 4-2 win, but I’m sure the most exhausted guy in the building was Adam Wilcox who made 48 saves. Adam joins us now in the booth. Adam, welcome. How are you?
Wilcox: I’m good. How about yourself?
D’Uva: Good. So are you as exhausted today as I presume you are?
Wilcox: No, I’m actually not too bad. I think I was getting a little side ache there in the second period when they were hammering on for about ten minutes straight, but I woke up today pretty energized. I think it was a fun win. [chuckles]
D’Uva: Yeah, well you said it last night. You described it as a “fun win.” Why is that kind of a game fun for you?
Wilcox: It’s one of those games where it’s just, you know - the whole game it seems like you’re getting shot. They were getting a shot on there just about almost every minute last night. So it seems like - throughout the game, it’s just like a close game. Your team’s battling, especially when you’re playing a really good team like Lehigh Valley and you can get a win like that on a Wednesday night. It’s just one of those games that feels good after.
D’Uva: It’s interesting because the Crunch have had a great record this year of limiting opposing shots. I know you didn’t play on Sunday in Hershey, but the Crunch only gave up 13 shots to the Bears. How do you see the team all of the sudden giving up that many shots in a game when they’ve been so good at limiting shots this year?
Wilcox: Yeah, well I mean you’ve got to give the team credit. They’ve helped the goalies out this year by not only limiting shots, but they’ve limited chances this year. That’s one thing goalies notice. They’ve helped the goalies out the whole year so last night was just one of those nights where the goalie had to help the team out. We owe the team a few of those this year, so I was happy to do it for them.
D’Uva: Your coach Ben Groulx said afterwards that you were the best player on the ice, and he said that a few times. In your last two games: shut out and the most recent one, career high in saves. How do you feel? Those are the numbers - but how do you feel that you’re playing?
Wilcox: I feel good. I’ve felt great this whole year. I think even toward the end of last year, I started to get more comfortable. In the pro league, I think it just comes with experience and time. You see all those veteran goalies who have been in the AHL for awhile, they seem to just have consistent games night-in and night-out. I think it just comes with experience and getting games and time. Obviously working on things last year and now having them finally come into my game consistently - it’s one of those things that you start to feel more control of the game rather than the game controlling you.
D’Uva: Last night, since we mentioned the shots - and I don’t want to harp on it too much because hey, it’s just one game and the Crunch still lead the league in that category - but since you compared shots to scoring chances, sometimes the numbers can be deceiving. For you, did you sense that there were also a lot of Lehigh Valley scoring chances, or was the number of 50 shots larger than we might seem to feel?
Wilcox: You know, it’s something I haven’t even talked to my goalie coach about. We looked at the game a little bit today, but we really haven’t dove into the scoring chances. Usually after every game, my goalie coach gives me a percentage of saves out of the shots that I have in Grade A, Grade B, and then everything else. Like my shutout game, there was - I don’t know - eight shots that were Grade A out of the 20-something and then there was 12 that were Grade B and the rest were easy stuff that you should stop. So I haven’t looked at that, but I think there was a lot of times that they were just shooting from everywhere last night. They’d get the puck in the corner and just shoot. My goalie coach came down after the first [period] and just said, “Be ready because they’re shooting from everywhere,” and that’s what they did a lot of the times.
D’Uva: It worked out for you to the tune of a 4-2 win for the Crunch. One of your buddies scored a key goal in the game. Matthew Peca’s been your roommate for a couple of years, scored his fifth goal. I know it had been a few weeks since he’d scored the last one, but when you saw it last night - he had one chance short-handed, and then when he comes down the wing and he cuts to the middle and it looks like he’s got a great chance, he gets stuffed, and then he gets a quick rebound and he scores. What did you see from Matthew Peca last night?
Wilcox: Yeah, he was great. I was happy to see him get a point last night. Obviously being his roommate, you kind of pay attention to how he’s been playing and he hasn’t gotten a lot of goals lately. But he’s always working, he’s always getting chances. He’s a speedy player. He’s a smart player. For him to go down and get a goal right after that, it was good to see. For him to get that second chance off that rebound to get a goal is pretty good. He’s a good player. He’s speedy, as you can see from that goal last night. It was good to finally see him get rewarded for it.
Matthew Peca makes it look (nice n) easy with tonight's @niceneasy goal of the game!https://t.co/8ZAbnFtbAk— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) December 8, 2016
D’Uva: Adam Wilcox is our guest, goaltender for the Crunch, second year pro out of Minnesota who got the win for the Crunch yesterday [12/7/16] with 48 saves. Up to 9-3-0 this year in 12 games. Adam, I don’t need to tell you, you’ve got already as many wins this year as you had last season. What is different about not just the way you’re playing - obviously the numbers speak for themselves. How do you think differently now than how you thought beginning of last year?
Wilcox: I think last year was obviously kind of a tough. There was weeks on end where I was kind of tossed in and put a lot of pressure on myself, ‘cause if I lost a game maybe I wouldn’t see the net for a couple of weeks. Especially with [Andrei] Vasilevskiy coming down last year a lot. I think it was for me - I felt I put a lot of pressure on myself to win that game, otherwise I wouldn’t see the net for a month. This year I kind of took a different approach in saying, “Just stick to the gameplan,” the structure that I had been working on for the last year and a half. Just let the chips fall into place and whatever happens happens. Statistically, if you stick to your structure, it’s gonna work out in your favor. That’s what I’ve been doing, just trying to play that way even if they’re getting a couple of goals. I think that’s helped me a lot.
D’Uva: No doubt about it. You’ve got a 2.13 goals against average - that’s ranked seventh in the league. Only two goalies in the entire AHL have more wins than you do, so it’s an excellent start. But we’re now about a quarter into the season Adam, obviously the Crunch are in first place [in the North Division]. You take a step back here. You’ve got a new head coach, it’s your second season. What right now is the state of the Crunch?
Wilcox: Yeah, I think it’s one of those times in the year where you’ve got a couple of your key guys called up, a couple of your key guys hurt - and we saw that last year. I think for us to continue to have this good chemistry and continue to get these wins on a nightly basis for us is a good sign. Because these points that you need right - even at the end of the year, you look back and you’re like, “Aw, geez - that shootout loss. We could’ve have an extra point.” Making sure to get these essential points right now, which is what we’re doing consistently, I think is big. The guys are working hard, the guys are blocking shots. I think right now could be one of those times of the year where you could go on a losing streak and the guys are battling it. We’re playing good hockey. Sometimes the chips are against us.
D’Uva: Of course the way the Crunch play now to the tune of first place, beating an Atlantic Division team last night. I know you mentioned it because the Crunch had only one win against that division this year - one of the best in the entire league. I mean, they are the best out of the four divisions so far. I know you’ve got some more divisional games with Albany [Devils] and Utica [Comets] coming up this weekend. When you take on a team like Lehigh Valley that is - at least to this point - as good as they are. How does that affect the confidence and how would you describe the confidence of this team right now?
Wilcox: Yeah, I think for us to go in and get a win against that division - like you said, they’re the best division in the league. We’re - our only win [in the Atlantic] was against Providence [Bruins], so for us to go in on a Wednesday night, beat a team like that, is huge for us. Because we need to not only get points in our division, we need to get points against the other divisions ‘cause teams can catch up quick. These points can creep up week after week. I think for us, obviously in our division beating Albany and Utica, not only puts us ahead but keeps them behind. They don’t jump on us so I think if we can really keep these consistent points, it’s huge because you don’t play that Western Conference ever. We need to make sure that we’re not letting these teams get these points from us, ‘cause that can come back to hurt as at the end.
D’Uva: Adam Wilcox is our guest, goaltender for the Crunch. Adam, I mentioned the games at home. You’re in the midst of a three game home stand here. The people who come to all the games - the season ticket holders - they’re along for the ride all season. You’ve got the best seat in the house out there when you’re on the ice. I wonder for you - to see that the way the team’s playing, as fast as they are, a lot of the opposing coaches say the Crunch are really fast. What makes this Crunch team fun to watch?
Wilcox: I think it’s our depth and the amount of guys who can put goals in the net. We’ve got - before the year, we had so many skilled vets come in. We had a couple guys who’ve played full years in the NHL come into our team. I think that we had, on a nightly basis, three-four lines every night that can put the puck in the net consistently. I think it’s fun to see because - like Lehigh Valley last night. We were talking about, “They got four lines of depth just like we do.” Those teams are fun to watch for the fans because every line can roll, every line can score and play in the zone consistently. It’s fun to watch so I think that’s what makes it good. We’ve got - obviously winning games makes it a lot better for the fans and that’s something we’re doing this year.
D’Uva: So you’re doing pretty well with that new helmet that you got. Lindsay Kramer had a story in the newspaper. Can you tell us how you came about designing that new helmet that you got?
ICYMI: Why is there a puppy and 'South Park' character on new mask of Syracuse Crunch goalie?https://t.co/9exPUkH0mb— Syracuse Hockey (@syrhockey) December 7, 2016
Wilcox: Yeah, definitely. I try to do something a little different every year. I always go with the base - team logo, Tampa logo - that was on one side. Then I got the basic “Bolts” on the chin. Then on the other side I’ve got downtown Minneapolis with a lightning storm over the city with a guy named Randy Marsh [from South Park] who is in his underwear playing guitar hero in his underwear, kind of rockin’ on - and that’s my favorite TV show, so I figured I’d put that on. It took a couple extra weeks for the NHL to approve that one, but they did. It looks good. It’s a pretty - it’s a funny part of my mask there. Then on the back I’ve got a picture of my Pomeranian that I got last summer. Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I had to put her down, ‘cause of a birth defect, at only five months right when I left for camp so figured I’d put a little memorial of her on the back, a little mugshot.
D’Uva: It’s an awesome looking helmet. I hope folks have a chance to check it out in person at a game or to see that story online. It’s interesting because there aren’t too many pieces of equipment in sports - whether it be football, baseball, basketball, or hockey - that gets customized to the degree a goalie’s mask gets customized. I mean you mention the things that are on the mask, but holy cow. I’d have to spend some time thinking about what to put on there. I saw somebody has a Bruce Springsteen-themed mask, I forget who it is though.
Wilcox: Yeah, well that’d be on yours every year wouldn’t it? [D’Uva laughs]
D’Uva: Well you’ve got the musical thing going. You’ve got the lip sync videos. I want to know what you’ve got lined up for the karaoke in the Crunch holiday party coming up in a couple weeks.
Wilcox: Oh yeah. You know what I have - I have a couple songs of every genre that I know by heart. I always try to cater to the crowd. If it’s an older crowd, I’ll maybe do Hootie & the Blowfish, maybe some eighties stuff. If it’s just the team, I’ll do maybe a rap song, a country song, a One Direction song. I really try to cater to the crowd. I always keep a couple extra songs from every genre in my arsenal.
D’Uva: [chuckles] That’s fantastic. Now Adam, that’s outside the game. What do you put in the category of things that you do, your interests away from the game. Clearly music is one. What other things?
Wilcox: I actually - I’m not a huge XBox guy anymore. I used to be a big gamer back in juniors but I kind of got over that. Partly because of the internet I have in my apartment and partly because of just getting older. I like to - becoming a bigger movie guy. I’d say there’s a couple things I do outside of the rink. Napping’s a huge one - rest is a big one this year, but I read a couple of books. I’m getting bigger into reading. I’ll be taking another class this spring so that should take a couple hours every day and then me and [Matthew] Peca and [Brian] Hart like to go to the movies a lot, so we hit those.
D’Uva: Well, I’m waiting for my invite, so you let me know.
Wilcox: Yeah, well maybe in the New Year time. [chuckles] We’ll see.
D’Uva: We’ll work on some Springsteen songs together, okay? We’ll get that going.
Wilcox: Yeah, you’ll come up and steal the mic from me, so I won’t even have a chance.
D’Uva: Yeah, that’s probably true. I mean you know Bruce does the pretty good “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” It’s that time of year.
Wilcox: Yeah, that’s yours.
D’Uva: Adam Wilcox, thanks very much. Congratulations on the excellent showing last night. We’ll look forward to seeing you again real soon. Adam, thanks, congrats.
Wilcox: Yup, thanks for having me.
D’Uva: Adam Wilcox, goaltender from the Crunch out of the University of Minnesota, who now is 9-3-0 in twelve games this year. Second most wins in the league. You better believe it, he is on his way.