NCAA Frozen Four
Measures Up Maine's Josh Soares
|Josh Soares has 40 points as
a junior after posting just 26 in his first two years
You probably know about Greg Moore and Ben
Bishop, but can you name Maine's second-leading point scorer
and team leader in assists? It's Josh Soares, a junior from
Hamilton, Ontario, who has seen his point production increase
significantly each year that he's been in Orono.
Soares had just three points and dressed in
just 15 games for the Black Bears as a freshman in the 2003-04
season. He didn't appear in any of the final 10 games for
Maine once the month of March began as the Black Bears went
on a run that included a Hockey East championship and an
appearance in the national championship game.
His sophomore year was vastly different, as
he appeared in 35 of Maine's 40 games last season. Soares
had 23 points on the year and six multi-point games.
This year has been another year of improvement
for the junior left wing, who plays on the team's top line
with Michel Léveillé and Greg Moore. While
Soares missed out on that 2004 playoff run, he'll be a key
figure in Maine's championship chase in Milwaukee.
Inside College Hockey: When you
guys are playing well, what do you do to be successful?
What is the key for Maine hockey?
Josh Soares: For our team
it's puck pressure. We pressure the puck well. When one
guy goes in we have another guy reading and reacting and
the other guy stays high. If they do beat that, we try to
control the neutral zone. That's a huge part. If you can
control the neutral zone you can control the game for the
most part. Our defense has really improved a lot on that
this year. Defensemen move the puck to us forwards and we're
getting back defensively. It's just hard work.
INCH: What about your team's depth?
JS: We have four lines that
are really hard working and they can all put the puck in
the net. I think that's a big difference from a lot of teams
that have two or three really good lines. We have four complete
lines, so that's a big edge on our part.
INCH: Do the other lines build
on that hard work? When you're going over the boards and
you've just seen some other guys out there, does that help
you generate momentum?
JS: You see that line of
(Rob) Bellamy, (Brent) Shepheard and (Jon) Jankus. They're
not superstars by any means but they're great players. They
work hard every shift, they take the body, they do all of
the little things right, and they chip in goals here and
there too. That's a huge lift. In the first period [against
Michigan State] we were up 3-0 and we're supposed to be
our top line and we didn't have anything to do with that.
That just shows how deep our team is. When you see guys
like John Hopson stepping up this weekend and Keenan Hopson,
those guys just played fantastic and it's a huge key to
INCH: Tell us about Greg Moore.
When you watch some other players from around the country
they have a distinguishing characteristic that people might
notice. For Greg, it seems so effortless. He's always making
the right play.
JS: I just think he's so
calm out there. He's a student of the game. He knows every
situation and what he's supposed to do correctly, and he
does it right. He reacts so well to different situations
in the game and that's key. He's just so big, strong and
fast that he's overpowering out there. His puck pursuit
and shot have improved so much this year and his defensive
game is unbelievable. He's one of the top defensive players
in the league and he's added that offensive part to his
game this year. You can't say enough. He's a great leader
in the dressing room and he's probably the best captain
I've had since I've been here. You really look up to a kid
like that. He's worked hard and to be where he's at, he
deserves all of the credit he gets.
INCH: Your team had a small celebration
at the end of the game but now it's just a little while
later and everybody seems pretty laid back. Are you excited
about what's going on?
JS: We're definitely excited
but we expect to win. We're not satisfied with just getting
to the Frozen Four. We expect to win and I think that's
why when you saw us win, we had our celebration but it wasn't
overdramatic. We won and we want to keep winning. We're
going to go on and battle in two weeks.