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An Interview With Tech Hockey Coach Joey Mullen

Before we begin, we'd like to extend a big thank you to Coach Joey Mullen for taking the time to answer our questions. And now, the interview:

Are there any NHL or college teams that you try to emulate? Any particular styles of play you like to see on the ice?

I love the flyers and the hard nose style of play they use. It also doesn't hurt that my uncle joe is an assistant coach there. He will send me stuff from time to time to help me out.

The team got off to such a great start, but it seemed like production dropped off after Christmas break. Was there anything in particular that caused the late season stall?

It's hard to say what really happened. We played a lot of good teams second semester. Four of them went to nationals. I look at it as a learning experience. We know what we have to do to get that auto-bid next year.

What do you think is the best thing to take away from this season? 

We had some really good freshman play a lot this year so the future looks bright.

During games I noticed that your team is really good at the breakout and getting behind the defense. Is that by design, or is that just how this year's squad naturally trended? 

We practice it a lot you can never be too good at breaking the puck out.

Are there going to be any big changes made in the off-season?

No major changes just looking forward to some key recruits to get on the ice in September

It seems like the club has come very close to taking their game to the next level. What does Tech need to do in the future to win a national championship? 

With only skating 1-2 times a week and not having a rink on or close to campus might play a part in that. We are close to making a serious national run just need a few more bounces to go our way.

Since it's a club sport, does team funding mostly come from ticket sales?

We make decent money from ticket sales. The school helps some and the kids pay around 1800 each to offset the difference

Is there an open tryout or does your staff go out and actively recruit?

Tryouts are open to anyone. I can only roster 30 players and can only dress 21 guys a game. So I keep the best 30 and play the best 21 guys I feel will help win each game

What do you look for in your recruits? 

With the depth of talented players coming to vt it's hard to pinpoint exactly what we look for. We try to finds guys that fit our system and are very team oriented

I've noticed a lot of teams using the umbrella formation lately. What is your power play philosophy?

I run a few different power play setups. I can't go in to much detail lol. I run a few pro setups and an umbrella one.

At the college level, is offense or defense more important?

I think both are very important. You can't win if you don't score but you don't lose many games playing strong d. We preach that we own out d zone and the offense will come from there.

Is it harder to play against bigger teams or faster teams?

We have a pretty fast team so I think bigger teams give us more trouble. Not many teams can match our team speed top to bottom.

Who is your favorite NHL team?

Flyers  (Ed. Note: I really, really like this guy--Flyers 13)

Are you related to former NHLer Joe Mullen? (Ed. Note: Joe Mullen is USA Hockey royalty. The Boston, Mass product won Stanley Cups with Calgary and Pittsburgh, and finished 5th in the Hart Trophy voting in 1989, a year where Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were both still in their primes. Known for his classy play, Mullen earned a top 10 finish in the Lady Byng trophy in 8 of 9 years where he played 70 games or more, from 1984-1993, taking home the trophy twice. --Flyers13)

Yes he is my uncle

What prompted the move from Radford to Tech? 

I had a good run with Radford. Moving to tech was a step up for my coaching career. When the opportunity came up I couldn't pass it up.

Where is your favorite place to play on the club hockey circuit?

Hard to pick just one. UMB is always fun, and Liberty is our biggest rival so those two places are always tough places to steal wins.

What is your favorite VT hockey memory? 

It was beating Liberty to go to nationals in my first season. It was awesome seeing to pure joy and excitement on my boys faces after winning that game.

Do you think Tech hockey will ever become an official university sport in the NCAA? What would it take to become the next Alabama-Huntsville?

I think VT has the money and resources to go NCAA but without a rink on campus it will never happen. The talent level coming in has gone up since my first year. As it keeps rising and the wins keep piling up I hope the school will see that, and help these guys out.