South Africa starts World Championship campaign

South Africa starts World Championship campaign

15 Feb 2012 | Davide Tuniz

Promoted last year, Ronnie Wood team begins preparation for next II Division Championship in Bulgaria with the help of USA hockey Development Director Bob Mancini

South Africa National team started the preparation for April IHWC Division II in Bulgaria in early January when headcoach Ronnie Wood began to work on physical conditioning and fitness for the first four weeks of month, three times a week with a conditioning drills given to the players prior to commencement. Trainings were in Cape Town and Gauteng Province due to reduce cost of travel for the players. At the end of January South Africa welcomed American Bob Mancini, former NHL Oilers Development Director and current USA Hockey Development Director, for an hockey level 1 & 2 coaching course in Cape Town. Here Mancini revealed he will assist Wood in Bulgaria and conducted two on ice working sessions in Cape Town and Gauteng with National Team players. "I am sure that this should provide a great opportunity for not only the players but also bring in a valuable contribution to the overall performance of the team. - said Ronnie Wood -  "I am very pleased to have Bob's expertise on board and will no doubt gain invaluable knowledge from his involvement."
Mancini will be back in South Africa at the end of march when team will travel to Europe. There will be two training camps prior to departure and they will both be held in March. In Europe, for the first time, South Africa will have the opportunity to play two warm up games, both against Romanian Elite division team Steaua Rangers. The games will be played on 29th and 30th March 2012
Coach Ronnie Wood says "In four years we have always wanted proper warm-up games against serious opposition and finally we get it. Our delegates to the IIHF conference established a great rapport with the Romanian President and it has proved very useful indeed. Now we can get a measure of where we are at before our opening game and not just hope that we have hit the mark. Romania are a Division One country and Steaua have a few National players on their roster plus three imports from Ukraine, Canada and Sweden. This should provide a real step up in class for South Africa."

About his team perspective, Wood said: "It is imperative that we secure at least two wins in the Tournament which should secure our place in that division. I have said many times that we have the potential to be a decent National Team who punches way above our weight and now is the chance to make the statement to the other countries we are up against. Last year we played in Division 3 and were unfortunate to lose the Gold medal in overtime to Israel. We prepared well, but without meaningful practice games we are always going to be left wondering. There is no way any of us want to go back to Division 3 and we must give ourselvels every chance to consolidate our place in the higher division. It is clear from the squad withdrawals that we will be travelling with a very inexperienced team and that we are playing some very tough opposition. Having said that, I am sure that the players selected will give their all for their country and that they will benefit enormously from the experience."
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