Category Archives: Interviews
Chuck Weber’s arrival in the British Elite League proved not only to be a turning point for the Coventry Blaze, but for the league as a whole.
In the space of five months Weber took Coventry from 9th to 6th, securing a playoff berth that had at one time looked in serious jeopardy following a poor start to the season, before guiding the Blaze past three of the league’s teams to lift the playoff crown.
The 42-year old’s influence on the Midlands club reshaped attitudes to coaching across the league, even acting as something of a trigger for the dismissal of league winning coach Gerad Adams in Sheffield, and this week’s announcement Weber would be returning for the 2015/16 season was met with rapturous applause from Blaze fans.
One Puck Short caught up with Weber, currently at home in the U.S., to find out what motivated him to come back, and what his plans are for the coming season:
With a new Head Coach and some fresh blood in the line up; Team GB’s 2015 World Championship campaign begins tomorrow against 2014 silver medallists Croatia.
With five games in the space of just six days, the tournament is intense and leaves little room for error – but puck stopper Ben Bowns believes Great Britain are up to the challenge.
Just days after helping the Coventry Blaze lift their first trophy in 5 years, netminder Brian Stewart put pen to paper on a new 2-year contract.
For Blaze fans it could be described as the proverbial ‘cherry on top’ of a season that saw them recover from a disastrous first half to become play-off champions – with the former Adirondack Phantoms stopper at the very heart of that turn around.
Currently leading the Elite League by 6 points, Braehead Clan’s rapid rise to the summit of the UK’s top tier has been nothing short of impressive.
Now in their fifth season, Braehead tasted Gardiner Conference success in 2012/13, followed by a third place finish in last season’s play-offs.
Currently on a six game winning streak; Ryan Finnerty’s side now find themselves in the driving seat as the Elite League approaches the home stretch. And for Clan Hockey Operations Director Gareth Chalmers, it’s all part of the plan.
Drafted 19th overall in 1989, Olaf “Olie” Kolzig went on to become one of the Washington Capital’s most iconic players during his 19-year pro career.
After representing New Westminster Bruins and Tri City in the WHL, Kolzig played 711 games for the Capitals, breaking every franchise goaltending record and backstopping Washington to its first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1998.
“Obviously going to the Stanley Cup Finals is a favourite memory,” Kolzig told InGoal Magazine, “But winning game 6 in Buffalo to win the Conference, that was huge. Unfortunately it was our last win of the season, as we lost four straight to Detroit in the Final, but that was my break-out year, so it will always be special.”
Whilst the final may have been contested between two old enemies; this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi demonstrated both how far the women’s game has come in many other nations, and how the standard of goaltending has risen across the board.
It was, essentially, a ‘given’ that either Canada or Team USA would take home gold in the women’s hockey tournament – but where Amanda Kessel et al were the focus before the tournament, it was two European netminders who ultimately stole the show.
The Finnish goaltending program once again earned praise from the wider hockey community during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
It’s not the first time the Scandinavian nation has been applauded for its efforts between the pipes, nor will it be the last – as the number of elite Finnish netminders continues to rise.
But how has Finland set itself apart when it comes to perhaps the most specialised position in all of sport?
I asked goaltending guru Jukka Ropponen what set Finnish hockey on this path, how it has helped develop not only goaltenders, but also goalie coaches, and what the Finns can teach other nations.