“We have young players other nations long for who are able to hinder their opponents."
Italian ice sledge hockey coach Massimo Da Rin believes that his team could have the edge at the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool in Buffalo, New York, USA, from 26 April, thanks to their tactical game and emerging talent.
“Every game has its own story,” Da Rin said. “We have young players other nations long for who are able to hinder their opponents. We need to improve on the technical side but we are at the forefront tactically speaking.”
As the reigning European champions from 2011, Da Rin’s aim for his team is to improve on their sixth place finish from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. But he knows it will be tough, particularly with Paralympic champions USA and silver medallists Russia in Group B alongside Germany.
“The Russian team have quickly grown and reached important goals in a very short time,” Da Rin reflected. “The Americans always ruled against us, they have a solid team and the advantage of playing on home soil.”
Da Rin has been managing the national team for over ten years, a period that has included three Paralympic Games from Torino 2006 to Sochi 2014. In that time, he has seen media attention on ice sledge hockey grow which could ultimately lead to increased professionalisation of the sport in Italy.
“Especially during the Paralympic Games, media attention on the Italian ice sledge hockey movement has been very high but we are extremely happy to receive support all year round” he said. “RAI [Italy’s national public broadcasting company], national newspapers like La Gazzetta dello Sport and international magazines regularly get behind us”.
For Da Rin, one of most seasoned coaches in the A Pool, the objectives for his group of committed players once they get onto the ice is clear:
“We are going to play every single game with the aim to win”.
Italy get their Buffalo 2015 campaign underway on 26 April with their first group game against Germany, before playing Russia the following day and the USA on 29 April.
The next rounds then begin on 30 April, with the bronze and gold medal matches taking place on 3 May.
Group A will feature Japan, Norway, Canada and the Czech Republic.
The bottom two finishers from the competition will be relegated to the B-Pool.