Photo Credit: Drago Cvetanovic
Ahead of the crunch tie against Poland tomorrow. 482Days met with the GB coaching staff
Congratulations on the win last night, what are your thoughts on the team’s performance?
JA: We stayed disciplined, every knows we lost the game two days before against Korea. It wasn’t really a game about getting goals, it was about setting up play. In the Korea game we didn’t get enough shots off on goal, so it was important against Slovenia to put far more shots on the net.
Getting a shut-out is always a great feeling for a team, especially when it includes killing off a major penalty. How important is it for you not just to win, but to win convincingly like this?
MS: It was about the team performance, it was about doing the basics right. Getting a shut out wasn’t the most important thing. We stuck to the set plays and it was about being far more disciplined and far better than before and we showed that when we killed off the five minute penalty. It was far more than just about getting a shutout.
JA: That was our Gold Medal game, in that if we had lost it, we were out of the running. Every game onwards from now on is. After the end of the first we realised that we had to step it up now and we did.
In the first period, it seemed to us that you got off to a great start but then seemed to lose concentration a little until the end of the period when you cam back with the two quick goals, was that how it felt on the bench?
MS: No not at all, it wasn’t anything other than us asking to stick to specifics. We said in the dressing room it was a 60 minutes game, can’t win it in the first 20 minutes, but we can lose it.
Sometimes it’s important to get confidence back in the team especially losing in the previous game. That was the aim, we asked the team to be patient, we asked them not to take unnecessary risks and most importantly they did what they were asked to do for full 60 minutes.
The atmosphere at last night’s game was pretty incredible, especially given that it wasn’t a huge crowd. Does that kind of atmosphere help or hinder the team?
MS: It truth it makes it harder for the players on the ice but they are professionals.
JA : We’ve talked about this with the team in that the only way we’re going to step up is to be professional. Just because they don’t play in a professional league back home, they have to show professionalism. So if it’s air horns, sirens, they have to not let them bother them.
Tomorrow you play Poland and there is a fairly clear mandate for what the team needs to achieve in order to keep yourselves in the chase for the gold medal. Have you been changing anything about how you prepare for this specific game?
MS: Yes, i think each teams plays differently and we’re worked on key things today in practise about playing this side. It’s about dictating the game to Poland making them the ones that have to adapt to us, not the other way around.
Obviously, you watched the game between Poland and Korea. Poland seem to enjoy playing a physical and quite aggressive style of play – how do you think our girls stack up against that?
MS: It should be a very good match. We like to play aggressive hockey, we like to play hard and fast and we’ve said that from day 1. You can’t win tournaments at this level without this type of play. It’s something that suits us and we enjoy it.
Special teams are again playing a big part in the tournament. How much time have you been putting in to working on specific PP and PK drills?
MS: PK we have good foundations there, that’s something that we’ve built on constantly. PP has been different o this season, we’ve worked hard on it.
JA: We spent an hour and a half off ice training session specifically working on PP prior to the Slovenia game and that paid off in the game with sometime of the things we had practised coming off in the game.
Going back to the game against Korea on Sunday, what were your thoughts on that game? What positives can you take out of that game?
JA: Take away a goal, it was pretty much equal. That programme (Korea) is massively funded heading towards the Olympics. We had the belief and competed to the final buzzer despite going a goal down.
Nicole Jackson is clearly in fantastic form in this tournament. When you are coaching a player in such good form, what is it you look to do?
GW: Carry on doing whatever is working for Nicole Jackson and for the team. She’s on a hot streak at the moment and we just need to give her the support she needs.
JA: She’s a professional and she has her way of working and her routine and we just support that
GW: We’re also fortunate to have Sam Bolwell, who also is in good form at the moment. We have two very solid goalies.
The defence have probably seen a higher proportion of changes than the forward line-up, but seems to have remained consistently solid again this year, how have you handled those changes in the squad?
MS: The defensive line up this year based around being more offensive minded. Previous years we’ve had stay at home defence and while it’s held up the blue line, it’s not got us over the line to win games. So this year we looked at alternatives and thought that we’re good offensively so lets try and mix it up in the defence. We’re still very solid as we’ve got defensive and offensive in both pairings that are clicking. They aren’t afraid to step in to pinch. We’ve got some very good skaters and some very smart hockey players.
We have a few foreign-based players who have been brought in to the squad again tis year. How difficult is it to transition in these players when they are not available to attend all the training camps in the run up to the championships.
MS: I don’t think it’s difficult at all, it’s about having a very clear system. We have specific breakout plays that we operate and everyone buys into it. Quite simply if you don’t, then there’s no place in this team. Everyone is studying what we’re working on, they are learning as lines and also working off-ice as well going through the playoff.
We’ve been speaking to the overseas players all year and the key message is that this how we are operating it and require this level of commitment, including those playing putting in work wherever they are based and all of them have.
How’s the mood in the GB camp at the moment?
MS: Very good, very good spirits are very high and that’s where we need them to be.