Category: GB Teams

April 5th, 2016 by Richard

It’s time for Matchday 3 of this Women’s World Championship and the first that we’ll be reporting from live today! We’ll we reporting live both on the website and our twitter today and we’ll bring you live reports from the games as well as all the reaction from the three games today. 

All times BST.

12:00 – DPR Korea (0-2) vs Croatia (0-2)

Prior to the tournament, if either side had told you that this was down to be a relegation decider involving the first and fifth seeds, very, very few people would of believed you, but that’s what’s at stake today for sure.

For DPR Korea, they’ll be determined to bounce back here, a third defeat in a row would be simply unthinkable. Despite the two sides results, you’d still have DPR Korea as heavy favourites today. Croatia have to find some scoring from somewhere, putting just two goals in the opposition net while shipping 25 at the other end.

For us here, this game is all about the start. If Croatia get off to a good start in the game then they might have a chance to pull off a shock, but even so, it’ll still take something very special indeed for DPR Korea to not get their first win of the tournament here.

15:30 – Korea (2-0) vs Poland (2-0)

Gold Medal Game? We’re used to them for sure in international ice hockey in group play, but this ones a little bit different. It’s undeniably a Gold Medal Game for Korea, it would be difficult to see them not getting the points they would require against Croatia and hosts Slovenia.

As for Poland, a win for them would still leave them with a huge game against Great Britain, so it’s more like an eliminator game for the Polish this afternoon. As the game itself, this should be an absolute cracker. Both teams undefeated, and Poland have the slight edge in knowing that they won by a higher margin against DPR Korea (5 goals) than Korea (3 games).

In a lot of ways, this is a game between Korea’s special teams scoring and Poland’s out and out scoring averaging nine goals a game so far. This is the key game of the day today and one that GB will be looking out for without a doubt. A Poland win, and the tournament is blown wide open again, including GB’s chances for gold.

This is going to be close.

19:00 – Great Britain (1-1) vs Slovenia (1-1)

Our first chance to see Great Britain this tournament and it should be a great atmosphere against the hosts. Slovenia, promoted from the pool below last season have all but secured their place in this division this time already.

Great Britain will undoubtedly be disappointed with the defeat on Sunday, but will be determined to put in a good performance against the hosts tonight in a good crowd (Slovenia have had crowds of 600 in their first game and 860 in their derby tie against Croatia)

We love a good stat here at 482days and have noted Slovenia’s 64-65% faceoff percentage, it’s something GB will need to be mindful off, especially if the goals don’t come early. Slovenia will be delighted with the result and scoreline against Croatia and that’ll give them confidence ahead of this game.

We think that GB will take this reasonably comfortably tonight, but ahead of a key tie against Poland on Thursday, it’s all about the performance for GB today as much as it is the result.

482Days will be live from the Bled Ice Hall from 11am UK time today for full coverage of all three games today on the website and on twitter @482days.

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

April 2nd, 2016 by Richard

Photo credit: Hokejska zveza Slovenije twitter

So, what did we learn today:

Great Britain can score goals

They really, really can. 19 today and as important as that is for GB to put up a big score even more important is the seven that GB scored in the first period. All too often, GB can struggle in the first period of a game or tournament but they’ve banished their demons tonight with a powerful performance that will not have gone unnoticed. Every team likes to talk about how it’s not paying attention to the others, but with a tally that big, it’s impossible to ignore.

DPR Korea are now top seed in name only

DPR Korea, who have been a solid Division 1 or 1B nation for a long time now are undoubtedly on the slide. A defeat today in their biggest game of the year against their neighbours to the south is something that is frankly shocking. We’ve seen sides make a sudden move in either direction before but it’s always shocking when it’s happens.

DPR Korea take on Poland in what is now an absolutely critical must-win game for them. Not something we expected to say even 24 hours ago.

Korea have improved, no doubt about it

After all the investment, all the resources, it looks like it’s finally paying off for Korea. We commented in our Korean team preview that this was the wrong tournament at the wrong time in so much as that they would want to be further up the tree by this point. However, even if that’s the case, this is a huge win for their programme beating DPR Korea by a healthy margin and they will now look at the gold medal and want to give it a real go for it. This time however it’s a more realistic chance.

Refs not afraid to call penalties, special teams crucial

Today was a high penalty count day for sure with 36 minor penalties called in the three games. It looks like it’s going to be the type of tournament which will be heavy on the special teams. Most importantly, GB will be happy with continuing their great record on the PK with another 100%. On the PP, it’s hard to tell after one game but Korea will be delighted with their 3/7 so far, an excellent 42%.

Great Britain vs Korea could be an eliminator game

Well indeed. While Poland put in a solid effort against Slovenia tonight, it’s difficult to Great Britain or Korea winning the Gold Medal and losing tonight. It always looked crucial but now it looks absolutely massive for both teams chances. Both teams will want to sleep well tonight (so if you’re a player reading this, go to sleep).

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

April 2nd, 2016 by Richard

482 Days managed to grab Assistant Coach James Ashton ahead of GB’s game against Croatia today for an interview about Great Britain’s chances at the World Championships.

Another World Championship where GB are highly fancied to do well. How much pressure does that put on you and your team?

I think the coaching staff and IHUK have tried to take the pressure away from the players as much as possible. For the players it’s about doing what the coaches ask for them and every game will be a different game. we’re not going to worry about other teams performances too much.

It it’s known that we’ve had too many silver medals at this level and the players have the same vision for the tournament in that they want a gold medal. We do believe things have changed, we’ve got better structure within the GB programme for achieve it.

This is now your second world championship, how does this compare to your first?

For me, it’s a challenge. I’ve officiated at about 14 International Tournaments and when you go to these tournaments it’s all about professionalism. With the U18 we had a very young team, but here it’s a very grown up side with their own dreams and ambitions of what they want to achieve. Now it’s about aligning that with the coaches goals.

We’ve always said that this is far more than just a one year plan we want the Gold, but that’s to gain promotion and stay at the level above.

The twins (Cheryl and Michelle Smith) are very alike, one prefers forward coaching, one defence, I tend to sit in the middle. Now we have a goalie coach in Geoff Woolhouse. We have had to bring about a lot of changes into the team.

What sort of changes have you brought into the team?

A lot more belief: you can have a team of players who are very good players, but sometimes lack the finishing touches or self-belief. We’re looking to get the right balance of a team, getting the right mix of players. It’s about the players being the best they can for themselves as well as the tournament. It’s all about having players who can contribute to the team and the line that they are on. You don’t want three out-and-out goal scorers on a particular line as that might not work.

It’s something we’ve had to do with the players this year, it’s not about them being the best players, it’s about being best for the team. It’s about what you can contribute to the team and how can we best use your skills effectively.

GB start the tournament against 5th seeds Croatia. How important is it for you to get off to a good start?

We’ve already had a good start for the tournament with our preparation and we’re very happy with how it’s going. We’ve had lots of meetings, lots of sessions already. The game is another step in the process and it’s how it carries on from the moment we stepped off the plane. It’s all about preparing, it’s not enough to start well on the ice, the tournament starts when you to the airport.

We’ve had the first game of the tournament now – and Korea have beaten DPR Korea in a bit of a shock result. Did you catch any of the game and what are your thoughts on the two teams?

All of the coaching staff attended the whole game today to take notes, as with any tournament and game it’s what happens on the day. Initially we did think that DPR Korea would be the strongest because they’ve come down from the division above. Something we’ve found out is that without a structure to bring players through, it could just be potentially that they haven’t got the players to bring up, hence being a downward slide for a bit.

However, you look at Korea we know they are getting a lot of support ahead of the Olympics to make them better. We don’t know though who’s going to be the strongest team and do think that it looks like everyone in the top four has a chance to win promotion. Every period starts 0-0 and every game is a gold medal game for us at this tournament.

How valuable were the warm-up games against the Netherlands in terms of preparing you and the team?

For a coach and the players a massive benefit. It allows you to look at players in a game situation. We had great media coverage and it was very positive. We tweaked a lot of things and some worked, some didn’t, but that’s why they are warm-up games, it’s the only time you can realistically do this. We now know the lines that we’re taking into the games, we’re training in lines. Having those games to prepare means you can do this.

Quite a few new faces in the team compared to last year’s squad. How do you think they will cope with the pressure cooker of a world championship competition?

The new players have already been accepted into the team. Teams move on and it doesn’t matter what sport it is, if you don’t give players a chance then you’ll never know what they can do, sometimes you find a diamond in the rough. Example is we have our two Under 18 players that are here,  you wouldn’t know they were Under 18’s and the coaches feel it’s time to move our programme forward.

Obviously you need to select a new captain for this tournament – what qualities do you think are important for a team captain?

Can confirm Leanne Ganney is Captain, Lauren Halliwell, Beth Scoon, Saffron Allen alternate captains. As for what you need to be a captain, you need someone who is composed, there’s a lot of work the Coaches do, but once the coaches aren’t there you need a figurehead that can speak, praise people but not criticize and be constructive. That has to be a player who knows everybody, who’s respected and who can lead them. It’s almost like having a 5th coach.

GB at all levels have traditionally struggled to be high goal scoring teams. At the recent men’s Olympic qualifiers, GB seemed to have addressed that issue. Is that something you are hoping to continue the trend here as well?

It’s huge. Every training session so many drills we are doing is about trying to improve goalscoring. I think the other thing is what when the players we have brought in, they all have proven track records of scoring goals.

Your article was very interesting, especially on the GB Penalty Kill (Perfect. Ed.) defensivly the team is sound but up front it’s about trying to get it in the back of the net.

How important do you think it is that the GB squad play without fear?

I think fear is a good thing. Not fear of failure, but you should always have some fear or you’ll become complacent. It should never be taken for granted that we’re going to go out and win. Fear is good, it’s about making it positive, something that has to be respected and can be used to our advantage.

How important is it to the team to they have support especially what they see on social media?

Tweeting is quite big for us, while I’m not huge on it all the players are. It means a lot to the girls when they get messages of support from everybody. Waking up in the morning and they already see 50 tweets wishing them luck – it puts them in a positive frame of mind.

It’s a big year with Olympic qualification upcoming later in 2016. How important is it to finish well in this tournament for preparation for that one?

For the coaches, it’s huge as it sets the expectations, but for the players are completely focused on this tournament and winning a gold medal. We’ve got to look at if we need to adapt anything after the tournament ahead of the qualifiers. The video analysis produced by Jade will be crucial to identify this for us.

Huge thanks to James Ashton for being available for an interview just after the Korea vs DPR Korea game on Saturday. GB are next in action, in about 10 minutes after this article is published against Croatia in their opening game.

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

April 2nd, 2016 by Richard

Day 1 of the IIHF Women’s World Championships Division 2 Group A kicks off in style today with three key games including a historical first ever meeting between Korea and DPR Korea in World Championship play, GB’s first game and a tricky opening game for the hosts against Poland.

All times Local (Slovenia is an hour ahead of the UK)

13:00 – Korea vs DPR Korea

Undoubtedly, this is going to be a game of high tension for both sides who have never met before at the World Championships. Korea will know that in two years times they will be under intense scrutiny, and they will get a taste of that here today taking on DPR Korea, their neighbours to the North and top seeds.

DPR Korea have been a traditionally stronger nation in Women’s hockey and had been established at the Division I level for a long time so they will need to make an immediate return which means nothing short of three points here.

482Days says do: Watch this game if your in Bled today. It’s a moment of history.

482Days says don’t: Forget which Korea is which.

16:30 – Great Britain vs Croatia

Great Britain kick off their tournament in the middle game today against Croatia and just the the third meeting all time between the two nations. GB comfortably dispatched Croatia in 2008 and 2015, 8-4 and 8-1 respectively and will be looking for nothing short of a well earned and deserved three points today.

It’s a 2nd seed vs 5th seed matchup and GB will have confidence but Croatia do have the scoring to make you feel uncomfortable at times. In a lot of ways it’s the perfect opening game for GB, one that you would expect to win, however all parts of GB’s game will be tested here.

482Days says do: Buy Nadia Matic’s dad a drink if you see him, sadly we don’t arrive until Monday.

482Days says don’t: Over analyse the result of this game to death. It’s a long tournament, 3pts is all that matters for GB

20:30 – Slovenia vs Poland

In the evening, the hosts Slovenia kick off their tournament against Poland, in what will be a key test of the ambitions of both sides. You feel that with Slovenia being 6th seeds, that this is not a must win game for them, but it probably is for Poland who will struggle to play catch up if they can’t secure all three points here today.

The Polish side are one that we expect to want to attempt to step on and to make a run for the Bronze medal they are going to need three wins and for the Slovenians, it’s as much about the points as it is the performance in front of their own fans and ahead of their huge derby game against Croatia tomorrow.

482Days says do: Tweet @lovehokej. the Slovenian federation. They love a bit of Social Media and have retweeted us loads

482Days says don’t: Worry too much if you are Slovenia and lose today. Still of a lot of hockey to be played.

Follow all of the action from the weekend here on the website and on twitter @482days

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

April 1st, 2016 by Richard

As we write this, Poland are still keeping their options open, picking 24 skaters plus no fewer than four netminders selected at this stage, so it’s difficult to write about newly selected players. However, what we know about Poland is simply, they’ll be quick, but also physical.

It’s fair to say that in 2014 when Poland played their first ever game against GB, no one saw a Poland victory coming, but they did, comfortably putting the Lions to the sword 4-1. GB got their revenge a year later, winning 4-0 in the last WC, but it’s clear that they are not to be underestimated.

The key news for Poland is that they have retained their top three goal scorers – with two of these averaging well over a point a game in International hockey which is critical to have at this level. These are Karolina Pozniewska (7+4 in 2015), Magdelena Czaplik (4+4 in 2015) and Kamila Wiezcrorek (4+0 in 2015), if they play together this could be a deadly combination. Interestingly, Pozneiwska, Czaplik and 5 other players on the long list play both for their own Polish club side and also for MKH Łódź, which despite being a city slap-bang in the middle of Poland, actually play in the Slovakian womens league.

The issue for Poland now is one that many other nations have had to handle. After an initial surge and quick progression up the Womens divisions, they find themselves stuck in the bottom half of Division 2A. They will be looking to be able to win three games for the first time ever at this level, so will be a dangerous side for any team to play.

Poland start off against the hosts Slovenia in what is likely to be a tricky encounter in front of a partisan home crowd before meeting top seeded DPR Korea on day 2. It’s a tough start for them, but they’ll be hoping to get at least 3pts on the board to try and secure their first ever top half finish.

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

April 1st, 2016 by Richard

Photo credit: Colin Lawson, courtesy of IceHockeyMedia Photography)

They say in English Football that the hardest league to win out of all of them isn’t the Premier League or the Championship. It’s the National League (formally known as the conference). There’s a lot of truth in that, and to a large degree you could say the same about Division 2 Group A (old Division 3) in the Women’s World Championship, at least as far as GB have been concerned.

It’s GB’s seventh time playing at this level in their history which has delivered five silver medals and a single gold (back in 2008). Back in ’08, GB famously pipped Slovenia to the Gold Medal on Penalty Shots giving GB the platform for five straight seasons in the division above. So for GB, only one goal will do and that’s winning all five games for a Gold Medal. It’s going to be tough in this group which possibly will be the most competitive ever seen at this level.

For us here at 482Days, we’re going to look at four key areas in which GB will need to excel to pick up their first gold medal since 2008. In the first two, we’ll be looking at areas where GB need to improve their performance in 2015, before looking at two areas which GB dominated the tournament in and will need to maintain that high standard.

Two to improve:

Goalscoring: GB have made huge strides in this area, increasing their scoring percentage from under 7% in 2014 to 14% in 2015. But GB still need to make more chances. This is testified in the that no team has ever won this Division without either a) taking more than 200 Shots on Goal in the tournament or b) having a scoring rate of better than 17% (one in six shots go in). GB aren’t far away from either of those stats (181 shots on goal in 2015), but need to keep it up.

Discipline: In 2015, Great Britain spent 42 minutes 20 seconds shorthanded, nearly 13 minutes more than Kazakhstan who went onto to win the Gold Medal and more than any other side. This really is a classic Great Britain trope at all levels of International Ice Hockey, but one that GB will simply need to improve upon. The good thing to note regarding discipline however is that in the Gold Medal game against Kasahkstan last year, GB took just two minor penalties. Keeping up that level of concentration for all games will be crucial.

Two to maintain:

Goalkeeping: No doubt about this one, Jackson and Bolwell were exceptional in every statistical category in 2015. Combined save percentage of 96.09%, 1.00 GAA, 1 Shutout, just five goals off 128 shots on. And there’s something to be said about the freedom that then gives your players higher in the ice knowing that they have a solid foundation in the back. Jackson has taken the lions share of the responsibilities herself, playing four of the five games last time around and her Senior league experience this time around could be a pivotal difference between GB and the other sides in the tournament.

Penalty Killing: Perfect. It’s rare that you get to use that word in Ice Hockey but there is simply no other way to describe GB’s performance in 2015. 23 times shorthanded, as we said earlier more than 42 minutes on the shorthand and ZERO goals conceded in the five games which is nothing short of exceptional defensive play. There’s no doubt that this is a massive turning point not only because it’s always good not to concede but it’s a great way of zapping the morale of the other side, knowing that a powerplay is still going to be really hard to score on.

But what about the 22 players that make up the GB Squad for this tournament. As we did a few months ago, we turned to Guildford Lightning and England defencewoman Faye Andrews for her #fayecast, her thoughts on the netminding, defence and forwards that GB have for this tournament:

Netminders:

There’s no surprise with the choice of netminders this year, they’re arguably the best two female senior goalies in the country and could easily be the difference between winning and losing games. I’d be hard pushed to think of any other current senior women’s goalie that could challenge these two for the top spots. That said, there are plenty of up and coming female junior goalies that are already showing great potential, and that’s reflected in the choice of Holly for the reserve spot. This will be a great experience for her and hopefully give her a valuable insight into what international hockey is like at this level.

Defence:

A good mixture of speed, skill and power with the defensive selections. It’s a clever move to have Adam’s back in defence. She always played defence as a junior, and is as good at the back as she is going up front. Both her and Beth Hill are great offensive players with a proven track record in goal scoring, and will provide some extra skill and agility on the blue line. Summers, Halliwell and Cornford will do a solid job as always. They always play a solid and disciplined game, and all 3 are seasoned defenders at GB level. With Scoon, Hutchinson and Douglas, there’s some much needed size and strength to complete the lineup. They can all shoot the puck like a cannonball and use their size and strength to intimidate the opposition and win those important battles for the puck in the corners. I’m looking forward to seeing how Douglas has matured after being away at OHA.

Forwards:

Mostly made up of familiar faces with a few newcomers thrown in to mix it up a bit. The one I’ve got my eye on is Katie Marsden. She was about 6/7 the last time I saw her play, and it was already clear at that age that she was one to watch. Fast forward to her first Senior GB appearance and some time away at OHA, and I can’t wait to see what kind of a player she’s grown into. It’s also great to see Campbell and Ashton given an opportunity. I played with both of these girls at England level, and CJ will skate for days. If Amy can avoid breaking anything this week, she’s going to do a great job 🙂

You know exactly what you’re going to get with the rest of the forwards. They’re experienced GB girls and some have the benefit of also playing together at their respective clubs. I have a lot of respect for Chrissy Newman. She is an absolute grafter, and works her balls off every single shift. She’s dangerous in front of the net and will not give up until the puck goes in. With Bloom, Allen and Henry, you’ve got some seriously good hands that will make most goalies wish they’d stayed in bed.

Again, it will be interesting to see what the girls currently playing abroad have to offer. At the WC’s in 2014, Durnell was one of the fastest skaters on the ice. It’s good to see her back in the lineup and hope to see her giving more of the same

Overall

I know this year the girls are desperate to bring back the gold. It’s been 8 years since the last one and I know for this team and the coaches, another silver medal will just not be good enough. Through the channels of social media, we’ve all followed the road these girls have travelled in the last 12 months, and it’s obvious that every single one of them will put their heart and soul into every game. To win this tournament would be huge for the women’s game in this country, which has to fight tooth and nail at every corner to get the respect it deserves. The coaching staff have carefully constructed a team that can deliver the goods and many people have wished the girls ‘Good Luck’ on Facebook and Twitter. It’s not about being lucky, and these players know that. It’s about playing harder, better, faster, stronger than your opposition, wearing the lion with pride, and I know this team have it in them to succeed.

One final point, it’s really disappointing that while GB Men get their show on Sky TV, GB Women don’t even get a live stream on the internet (paid or free). It’s a real missed opportunity for the Women’s game not to have something, especially when you look at the thousands of people that watched the division below from Spain on YouTube. Every team in the competition would benefit from this as a way of raising their profile, I’m sure many supporters would love the chance to watch their national team in action if they’re unable to travel to the games.

Huge thanks to Faye Andrews for her thoughts. Follow us on @482days for more articles over the next week from the tournament, and we’ll be based in Slovenia from Monday. Great Britain start their tournament at 3:30pm UK time tomorrow against Croatia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

April 1st, 2016 by Richard

For Korea, it’s probably fair to say that this is the wrong tournament at the wrong time for them. With the 2018 Winter Olympic Games just around the corner for the Korea (less than two years to go) Korea find themselves stuck in Division 2A where they have been for a long time now. It’s not the place to be ahead of the Olympics for sure.

However, the truly surprising thing is that Korea have selected a side of just 17 skaters and 2 keepers for this tournament. It’s incredibly rare for an international side to be short benched. However, if they are short-benched on the ice, they certainly aren’t off it. Head Coach Sarah Murray comes with a glittering college hockey career which included lifting the D1 Frozen Four title in 2010 with Minnesota Duleth Bulldogs.

Becca Ruegsegger, a former United States U18 Goalkeeper takes up the role of Assistant/GK Coach, while Nottingham Panthers Legend and two time Stanley Cup Winner Jim Paek takes the role of General Manager.

Like last year, three of the Korean side are playing in North America with Jongah Park, Ye Eun Park and Goalkeeper So Jung Shin in the side once again. Overall, it’s a reasonably unchanged side with two major additions as two players are given their debut at 16 years old, Si Yun Jung and Se Lin Kim.

Traditionally, Korean sides have been athletically fit but have struggled with the physicality of the game which may explain why Great Britain is 4-0 all-time against the Koreans. After two large blowouts (10-0 and 6-0 in 2007 and 2008) it’s been closer however between the sides, GB winning 3-1 on the previous two occasions in the past two seasons.

Overall, Korea will be desperate to have a good tournament, and to challenge their neighbours to the North. Their opening day clash against DPR Korea you feel is going to be absolutely crucial and will set the tempo for the rest of the championship.

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

March 31st, 2016 by Richard

Croatia return for another go at Division 2A after last year where they met their pre-tournament expectation of staying up at this level after winning gold at the Division 2B championships in 2014.

No fewer than 13 of the players for the Croats play for the same side Gric Zagreb, which does show the lack of depth in a country with just 58 female players registered. Croatia have met GB twice before in their history, losing on both occasions, 8-4 in 2008 and 8-1 last year in Dumfries.

Croatia will once again focus on staying up. With Slovenia being promoted from Division 2B, they’ll know they will have to defeat their neighbours to the north in their own country in order to stay up this time around.

Leading the Croatian side is captain Diana Kruselj-Posavec, who is undoubtedly Croatia’s greatest ever female hockey player, even in the short time of the side’s existence since it started to take part in IIHF competitions in 2007. Tall, powerful, great skating and great shot, she’s someone that all sides will do well to watch out for.

One of Croatia’s strengths however is the amount of experience that they have, especially on the blueline. Ela Filipec was the second top scorer for Croatia from defence, although she does also lead the team all-time in Penalty Minutes. Nadia Matic has played in the top German league for the past 6/7 seasons, so also bring a lot of experience to the table.

In terms of new players, at just 16 years of age, Sara Muranic has been given a start as a forward, so it’ll be interesting to see what ice time she gets. Overall, it looks like it’s going to a tough tournament for the Croatians, and the derby game against Slovenia looks absolutely critical indeed.

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

March 31st, 2016 by Richard

Top seed DPR Korea enter the tournament following a miserable 2015 Division IB tournament in Bejing where they scored just six goals and shipped thirty and drop down to the W2A level for the first time since the 2011/12 season.

It’s a difficult Team Preview to write considering that it’s difficult to know much about their team at all due to all of their players being based in such an isolated country. The one thing that we do know is that GB have never beaten DPR Korea on any of their three previous attempts in 2000, 2009 and 2013. All three games have been reasonably close, with GB going down 4-2, 4-1 and 3-2 respectively.

Comparing the squads would suggest some rearrangement in personnel with several of their top scorers from the past World Championship not in the squad this time. In fact, it’s a small squad, travelling with just 16 skaters plus two netminders, down from their 18+2 in China last year.

The big news of course is the game between DPR Korea and Korea, the opening game of the tournament. The two sides have never met before in an IIHF tournament, with their only meeting over the years being in 2014 at a IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia event. Regardless, with the Olympics coming up for Korea, this is a monumental derby game with nerves likely on both sides.

The goal for DPR Korea is simple, win the tournament and as top seed they’ll be expected to do so, however GB will be paying close attention to them no doubt in the opening stages of the tournament, scouting them out ahead of their final day clash which will likely decide the tournament.

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016

March 30th, 2016 by Richard

There’s no doubt that after a long time, Slovenian Women’s hockey is on it’s way back. Relegated from old Division II (equivalent to Division I Group B nowadays) in 2007, pipped at the post by Great Britain in 2008 losing on penalty shots, and a drift downwards that saw them enter Division II Group B after being relegated in New Zealand in 2013.

Fast forward two years and Slovenia won Gold at the D2B group in Spain and despite a shock 3-0 defeat to Mexico they secured victory comfortably to return them to to D2A and give them a chance to compete at the higher level. Avoiding relegation is no doubt their aim for this campaign, and hope that home advantage will be key to that aim.

Lead by Pia Pren, the Slovenian skipper has been an instrumental part of the team for 12 years now, making her debut at the 2004 IIHF World Women Championship Division III. Impressive in itself, but incredible when you consider that she is just 24 years old, making her full senior debut at just 12 years and 8 months and scoring in her first game. Playing her club hockey for Linkoping alongside GB’s Georgia Farman, her skill and ability make her the go to player for Slovenia in this tournament.

Otherwise, Slovenia are mostly unchanged for this tournament and will have the benefit of a team that are experienced and know each other. GB have played Slovenia four times over all, with GB leading the series 3-1 overall. Slovenia picked up their only win in South Africa in 2005, easily dispatching GB 4-1. GB got their revenge three years later on Penalty Shots to seal Gold in 2008, and the two sides have not met since.

Slovenia will be wanting to put a good show for their fans, but most importantly, avoid relegation and start building for the future.

Cveto-5801 (1280 x 853)A few days ago we caught up with Slovenian Head Coach Franc “Aci” Ferjanič to talk about Slovenian ice hockey and their chances in the upcoming world championships.

482 Days: World Championship season is always the highlight of the year for International Ice Hockey, how much are you looking forward to it?

FF: Certainly the World Championship the highpoint of every hockey year, since we can show results of our work throughout the season. Are we looking forward to it? It’s hard to tell. On one hand very much so, as we play at home again after a couple of years; on the other hand there is a bit of anxiety present, due to some changes on the Team’s roster in the meantime.

482 Days: Winning promotion last season is your goal simply to avoid relegation or are you looking for more?

FF: In my view having a goal to merely avoid relegation would be setting the bar too low. It could misguide us not to play all games to our full potential and rely on one well-played game. In these kinds of cases lots of things go wrong.  A place somewhere in the middle of the group in the final rankings would be a properly ambitious goal for me.

482 Days: How important is home advantage, having your supporters there to cheer you on?

FF: I hope the home ice and especially support from our fans will truly be our advantage.

482 Days: You have the big derby game against your neighbours to the South (Croatia on Sunday, how crucial a game is this for you?

FF: There is always a special charm in neighboring derby. There’s always some unfinished business from one or the other side. Hopefully this year we will be more successful. Naturally, this game will be very important for the final success for both teams. [Slovenia has 3 wins and 1 loss so far.]

482 Days: This is your first meeting with Great Britain in eight years, what are you expecting to see from GB in this tournament?

FF:To tell the truth I am not familiar with the British team. There are not many players on our roster who would so far play a game against them. Eight years is a long period, there were many changes in women’s ice hockey since then. Certainly there are much more players in Britain than in Slovenia, better competition level with foreign coaches and players. Not much has changed in Slovenian women’s ice hockey in this period, in particular as far as number of players and organization is concerned. I expect though and intense game. Great Britain is by all means the favorites, while we will try to surprise.

482 Days: Pia Pren, your Captain had her Senior Debut when she was just 12 years old which could not be done anymore. Do you wish you still had the ability to bring some younger players into your squad for this tournament?

FF: No. The quality of the game on the level of national team is incomparably higher than it used to be then. Perhaps some of the younger girls could match up with the older ones on the skills level, but physical strength of these girls is not yet up to the level of national team, let alone their mindset – tactical thinking.

482 Days: What’s the current strength of Slovenian domestic women’s hockey and how does that help you out in your role as Head Coach of the National Team. 

FF: Women’s ice hockey is not particularly popular in Slovenia. We hope this Championship will add to its popularity. There are few girls who decide for this sport, as well as the clubs do not make enough effort to attract new players. Ali in all there are around 70 active women players In three Slovenian clubs. The bulk of the organization lies on enthusiasts, mostly former player and parents.

As the coach of the national team I try to connect the active clubs and influence others to include girls in training in the young age categories. I call on the clubs to provide women teams’ decent playing conditions. In four years, since I took over, I have managed with my colleagues to establish new relations within the national team and introduce new work methods, considering the capabilities we have at our disposal; player and work conditions wise. It is hard to make big steps.

482 Days: You have two players (Manfreda and Pren) who are based abroad; does their experience of playing at a higher level help the other players in your squad?

FF: Absolutely, the experiences of player who play abroad help other players and to me as a coach. Every new information is welcome.


Huge thanks go to Hokejska zveza Slovenije for arranging the interview and to Franc “Aci” Ferjanič for his insightful and honest answers. The IIHF World Women’s Championship Division 2, Group A begins on Saturday 2nd April and 482 Days will be based in Slovenia from Monday 4th April to report on the tournament to its conclusion with live twitter and reports from the games.

Want to read Aci Ferjanič’s interview in Slovenian? Hokejska zveza Slovenije have reproduced it on their own website and you can find that here.

 

Posted in GB Teams, GB Women 2016