Helsinki (AFP) – There’s a teaching year behind national ice hockey coach Tony Soderholm. In 2021, the coach missed a medal with the national team at the World Cup in Riga, Germany reached the semi-finals for the first time since 2010.
That was followed by the first major setback of his tenure in February when he lost the Olympics before the quarter-finals. On May 13, the next World Cup, which is for Söderholm, will start in Helsinki against Canada (7:20pm / Sports 1 and MagentaSport) in his home country of Finland. In an interview with dpa, the 44-year-old talks about his disappointment at the Olympics, his claims and the NHL trio on the team.
The Winter Games in Beijing were disappointing. What must happen at the World Cup to be considered compensation?
Toni Soderholm: “The important question for me is that we can answer the how-to question. How do we win matches? We can look at ourselves in the mirror again in terms of identity. We had high expectations, but somehow the winning method got lost. It’s important that we don’t talk too much about the results.”
What mistakes may have been made during the preparation for the Olympics and what lessons were learned from them?
Soderholm: “There were some mistakes. One was bigger than the other. But that is in the past now. I’ve already bought a new mirror, and now we have to move on.”
Has the relationship between the players on the team and in relation to you changed as a result of the disappointment at the Olympics?
Soderholm: ‘Not at all. I think the conversations after that were realistic for everyone. It was also helpful to see how everyone reacts when things don’t go as hoped. Everyone wants to present themselves better.”
Are you feeling more pressure because the Olympics went a lot worse than you hoped?
Soderholm: ‘Not at all. What does the Olympics have to do with this tournament? zero.”
At the World Championships in Riga last year, the team narrowly lost a medal. Would it be daring to dream of the second semi-final in a row?
Soderholm: “You can dream every day if you want, and maybe you should. But first let’s win the first point in the first game and then we’ll see. Tough, down to earth, tough – that’s how we have to work to put ourselves in a position to be successful.” I do not care anymore “.
What is the exact goal of the World Cup?
Soderholm: “We haven’t done that yet.”
How disappointed you are that apparently not all patriotic players can unite at the World Cup?
Soderholm: “There are several reasons. If a player is injured, he is injured. If a player has no energy, he has no energy. If a player feels that he cannot help the team, he does not help the team and then we take the next player. There is nothing for me to discuss. Some are injured, so it’s a disappointment for the players if they can’t be there.”
NHL goalkeeper Philipp Grobauer should take on the number one role. How do you see his role in the team?
Soderholm: “It’s very important. Philip also has a very good personality. It also brings a lot of self-confidence. It brings a feeling that boosts the confidence of the whole team. Technically it is very strong. He is very strong in skiing. His positional play is very strong.”
Matthias Niederberger is part of the World Cup squad alongside Grubauer. To what extent can the situation become a problem if the best goalkeeper of DEL sits on the bench?
Soderholm: “It’s a normal situation in the World Cup. Usually you have the three best goalkeepers in the team and only one of them can play every time. Of course we made that clear beforehand. I trust the guys, they get along well with each other and with the situation.”
Devinsman Moritz Cider played his first very strong season in the National Hockey League. Where do you see the limits of its development?
Soderholm: “Is there anything? I don’t think so.”
Moritz Seder has always expressed great self-confidence in the past. What is the importance of his role in the team?
Soderholm: “Important. I think he has a very good balance between when it’s time to be serious and when it’s time to have fun. If he then puts on his ski boots and goes to the snow, that means it’s a complete job.”
What burden can really NHL striker Tim Stutzel bear despite his young age?
Soderholm: “He can certainly take a lot. It’s important for us to have a mentality in the team that anyone can score goals. Tim has a lot of offensive potential, is technically talented and reacts very quickly. In addition, his eye and creativity in attacking are at an extremely high level.”
Who is your favorite nickname?
Soderholm: I think you have to get past the Finns at some point. I think Canada will have a strong team. It will be interesting to see what the Czechs do with Kari Jalonen as their new coach.
Profile: Toni Soderholm (44 years old) surprisingly succeeded in taking over Marco Storm at the end of 2018. At that time, the former professional was the coach of third tier club SC Riessersee. Until the Winter Games, he was expected to leave the German Ice Hockey Federation after the World Championships in Helsinki and Tampere. At the end of March, Söderholm extended until 2026.