Saturday, and we had only one game for the day, Colombia with an O not a U.
Where Canadians store all their gear. No budgies down there though (I assume)
At this stage in the comp, we had a routine running that had developed over the warmup days. Every time we went anywhere, drove to the pool, dropped our bags and raced for the toilets before (name with-held) got there and befouled them... every time we ran through a warmup, dry or wet, whatever, Benny would take his notebook out from the cubby-hole in his beard and be working out timings to get a handle on exactly how long it took us as a group to do anything.
Anatomy of a coach
Second day of the comp there were still tweaks being made, a little longer here, not so long there, guys maybe requesting a bit more time for x and y, but it was getting close to settled. We generally used the area in the photo above for a bit of stretching and yoga, and it had tremendous acoustics which came into play when the GB boys arrived to use the area with gigantic speakers and a nightclub playlist.
At some stage, some guys making some form of documentary latched on and took a bit of footage here and there, and we saw them stalking other teams as well. Another first. Whens the thing coming out and will we all get to see it? Is it pay per view? Dunno.
Not to be outdone, our womens team also had a routine for warmups etc. However, while theirs involved a lot of laughing and smiling, we tended to go more for the stretching groans and farting noises.
Single leg-stands. Showoffs!
Tris pwning Fortnite noobs while Nick is very impressed
The day before while we had been distracted by our own affairs, some epic battles had gone on in other games, 2 that stood out.
First, Aussie had drawn 0-0 with Colombia. That is a really rare scoreline, and at worlds, in 3m where games often score higher? Amazing.
Second, let me get this right... GB had drawn with Turkey 2-2 in a massive grudge match, and then protested the result afterwards and won the protest, then winning the game 3-2. Drama!
I saw the end of the GB/TUR game poolside, and it really was a thriller. Very tense. These guys had been bashing 7 colours of snot out of each other all over Europe since the big Semi-final in SA 2016, and Bernie the GB coach made no secret that they had been working steadily to counter the Turkish game over the past couple of years.
The Turks got up to 2-0 early, and this turned out to be a bit of a theme for GB as they dropped early goals in many of their close matches, but after a hair-dryer team-talk or two from their coach they always managed to go up a couple of gears and come back. On full-time, GB were back to 2-2 and had the puck on the Turkish bin for an adv with only a few seconds to go.
Hard to tell as it was first day, no clocks etc but with a man in each sin-bin GB put 4 guys up in a wall and chucked it in, and trapped it in long enough to get it in the tray.
The refs disallowed the goal at the time but on the protest must have sorted out the timeline and GB took the game after all, a big win for them that they'd been targeting. Both teams had the players and capabilty to go wide and use space (in spades), but it almost seemed like there was a bit of a challenge felt, that maybe they each just wanted to get stuck in and beat the other guys on the wall and channel? Like the scene in the movies where in the last standoff, both antagonists throw away their guns and finish the fight hand-to-hand. Exactly what you want at a worlds, center stage for a great soap opera.
Meanwhile, as the cleanup crew got to work scrubbing the bone, gristle and hair off the goaltrays and walls in court 2, the game in court 1 had just finished 0-0 between COL and AUS.
If you're coaching it's a great game to have a look at, here's the link. Why?
This was the Aussies first game, and while they are always big on playing their style, this was like all 10 of them had been listening to sleep hypnosis tracks of their coach saying "switch, switch, switch" all night for a month. They came out at the start of the match switching like a strobe light. In the first 90 seconds before the refs made the first call they had made 3 full swings around the backline. Then Colombia got a chance to touch the puck and the Aussies were unable to find much opportunity for the rest of the game (well, one more off an adv puck and one that went a bit hairy in the second half). But nonetheless that first couple of minutes has some great examples of Aussie switching.
The Aussies are famous as the masters of swinging it around the backs. Do they do anything differently to everyone else? Well, they seem to start their switch differently to most teams. They go backwards to switch far more than anyone else, generally. The half who initiates it also doesn't switch as a last resort when he's out of options and surrounded, he looks to do it well before that. Then when he turns he swims back a few kicks, and bombs to the fullback who often also swims backwards. This gives each player more time before he gets hit by a forward in which to make his pass.
In this way they try to keep ahead of the chasing forward line and get around the outside. Most other countries players (including ours from NZ) tend to turn and pass back from a stationary position which can be shut down by the wall forward or center far more easily. Often backs only switch when they find themselves turned already in position, and then bomb it out without really proactively originating the movement themselves.
Also, check out this slick pickup in front of camera. It's not often you get good examples of skills plain on screen (unfortunately). Generally a good indication of how much control a player has is how quickly he or she takes their eyes off the puck and gets their head up to look for whats coming next. Great skill here from Jack.
It's at 18:00 in the vid to see it real-time, this GIF is very slow.
GAME 3 - COL
"this is the incorrect way to hold the stick"
The world cup in Medellin, 2010 was a fantastic tournament and Danni and I got to meet and get to know a bunch of the Colombian players. They are super friendly, amazingly enthusiastic about hockey and it's no surprise that they have now found a great way to get people to their amazing facility to play with the 3x3 tournament. They are always an awesome challenge to play against in a test match and we have been lucky enough to be in their group each worlds since the split from full RR.
The first thing that always struck me about Colombia is the names.
They all have so many awesome sounding names. Romantic and dashing like characters out of a western. We have two 4-name players, they have seven. Plus with the latin sauciness, they beat us here hands down. I think we had the edge in beards though, maybe that helps even things up.
Their womens team also has a huge names advantage over our NZ Womens team. 24 names to 44!
The way they play, I love that they do things like this...
Watch the COL player swimming out to the right on the surface before dropping and waiting for the puck while the play is going on behind him. Sneaky! Also very calm and disciplined.
The last time NZ men played Colombia at worlds was in 2016, in South Africa. It was first thing in the morning, still dark in the outside pool, murky, freezing cold because the pool staff for some reason didn't think it necessary to turn on the heaters for an international tournament.... conditions, to be blunt, were horrendous. We had to make adjustments to play in the freezing dark, and we came from New Zealand where it is always cold and dark, and sometimes not just in winter (I'm looking at you, Wellington and South island). But if you might have thought this would affect the Colombians, who come from a country where there is essentially no seasons and just nice weather all year round a bit wetter or drier? No way. They put on a storming game, and beat us 2-1 (possibly faulty precise scoreline memory).
In Quebec in heated water with light and where the refs and players could actually see, it was a nice game to play.
I wish I knew exactly how they organize themselves. They definitely had a bit of the Argentinian everyone-rolling-behind-the-puck thing going on, but only in some areas of the pool, maybe in more defensive areas. They are a lot more fluid than most teams... guys jump over players a lot, hitting both sides of an opposition.
This guy is a back, too (I think!). Most teams a backline player would hold his side and let another player take the other side... sometimes a forward might do this if he'd just subbed in and was frothing to make an impact. In NZ there used to be a rule/saying for backs, that you never follow an opposition around his turn, for example. We are such fuddy-duddy conservatives.
They scored a nice goal against us with some good celebrations to go with it... of course passion in the pool and in the stands are what these guys are famous for as well. Ai! Ai-ai-ai!
Gooooooooooooollll! And Cuy has big muscles.
Turning of the match was probably 10 mins into the first half, Col had a free puck and took it sideways to their bench, we were then able to bring it off on the angle while they had a guy subbing and before he could get involved we got the puck in behind their central line and Brendan drove to the goal with Nick finishing on the outside. It can be a huge advantage having the play next to your bench, but if the timing goes wrong it can hurt you as well.
Straight after this we scored a goal on the strike, a great bit of team play and backing up from Rob and Nick and finished off by Gunny.
Cuy got his goal to bring it back to 2-1 not long after but the 2 goal jump really made the Colombians chase us and we were able to control things until the end, ending 3-2.
The reffing was un-noticeable, which is to say, fantastic. There was at least 1 of theirs in the bin at one stage, we might have gone for a couple of minutes too but nothing memorable really, game was in a good spirit. The calls were consistent and the reffing group system seemed to be producing good results so far.
Rob did a great interview after the game, but the sound was off so no-one could hear it.
It was I think this day, we must have got back after the game at 1? Early afternoon anyway. I watched a movie I think after lunch, I was feeling pretty tired, fell asleep. When I woke up, it was grey outside and Ed had already gone to breakfast. I was feeling pretty groggy but much better. Sleep was a bit broken at home with our little one so I wasn't used to having such a massive snooze.
Walking into the kitchen, I was the last one in and Sarah and Jane were behind the table handing me a heaped plate of Pasta and Mince. This was the weirdest breakfast, what happened to all the yoghurt and cereal and fruit? Good to change things up though for sure, it had been getting a bit boring. I went and sat down, making a couple of remarks about how weird it was to be eating mince for breakfast. I wondered if we would have bacon the next day which would have been incredibly exciting.
As we walked out of the kitchen, I asked Jeremy how the analysis session had gone the night before, we were going to go over our Canada and Argentina games and I'd slept through it.
Unfortunately, Jeremy was our sheriff so there was no escaping a fine for thinking dinner was breakfast. Later that night we watched the Canada and Argentina videos.
Next post - Game 4, defending World Champions AUSTRALIA