Hey! Hennessy! Yeah, yeah,
yeah! Shoot the puck! Ice hockey is a fast-growing
sport in China with new teams springing up all over the
capital. But the Huijia Green Dragons,
the most recent addition to the Beijing Junior
Ice Hockey League, are a team in trouble. Right, come on! Crack coach Jiri Novak’s been
drafted in from the Czech Republic… Jason! Why you fight? …but his squad still lacks
technique, toughness and basic tactical awareness. Jason!
You’re a defender! We’ve got two major problems,
we’re not strong enough, and we need
work on our basic skills. Stunned by recent defeats,
two by five-goal margins, the Dragons are struggling,
confidence at rock bottom. It’s our mental strength. If we fall behind we don’t have
the positive mind-set to carry us through. It just feels like we’ll lose. Inexperienced and outgunned,
the newcomers need to find their feet, and
quickly. We’ve got to improve
our team co-ordination, if we can’t react more
quickly we’ll never be able to deal with
our opponents’ attacks. The Dragons
are on hockey scholarships at Huijia Private School,
which has made a big investment and expects results,
but a packed timetable and a limited league schedule
leaves them desperately short of the match practice they
need. I think it’s a big problem, they only have ten games during
the season. Only during the game they can
they improve their game sense. But coach Novak’s biggest
headache is a shortage of personnel, with just
eight players on his roster, and two more too young
to play in league matches. We don’t have
enough players to rotate, we only ever have
two players on the bench. Slowly go back, slowly go back. The newcomers
now face their biggest test, when they play league leaders
and title-holders Snow Leopard on the final
weekend of the regular season. Snow Leopard are very
skilful and cohesive. There’s no question
they are fearsome opponents. It’s a massive
challenge for the Dragons, for which they have just
one week to prepare, their reputation at stake. Fortunately, help is at hand. Reijo Ruotsalainen,
or Rexi as he’s known won two Stanley Cup rings
in a seven-year NHL career, and later Finland’s first
Olympic ice hockey medal as a member of the talented
silver-winning squad at the ’88 Games in Calgary. I feel that’s a big
opportunity for me to show what I can do with these kids,
but it’s also a big challenge because they
have some weaknesses. I think I can bring
some tips for them and help them to get a better
idea how to play hockey. I think in this short
time we can really help them. Rexi Ruotsalainen.
Please welcome him. OK, boys,
I have one week with you guys. Let’s work hard and let’s have
a great win next Sunday. Green Dragons’ tactical
failings will come later. For now it’s their technical
shortcomings Rexi wants to address,
and there are plenty of them. Rexi’s first drill
is designed to get the players skating on their edges. Inside edge here. Starting from each corner,
they have to negotiate a series of cones before receiving
a pass and shooting at goal. They then make another
even sharper turn before receiving
a second attempt. Basically, the game
is so fast that you need to be able to do those edges,
because otherwise you’re always behind the play. If you’re too high up,
your legs are wobbly, so you need
to go really low like here, and keep your stick down. If you keep it here,
your balance is not the same as when you keep it down low. Next Rexi wants to test
both the Dragons’ staying power and their stomach for a fight. Two commodities they’ll need
in their final game against the league leaders on Sunday. Go, go, go! It’s good to finish the
practice like this, because you have to use the skates
and your lower body muscles. That’s good
practice for that, too. Come on, lads! That’s it, keep
going. Push, good! In the clash of the day, push comes to shove
when Bill takes on Rexi. Push, push, good boy, good, that’s it, hey, energy! Yeah, good. It’s clear Rexi has made an
impression and the Dragons head for the school auditorium to
learn a little more about the Olympian who’s flown halfway
round the world to coach them. Reijo Ruotsalainen, he scores! It’s not long before Bill
and his team-mates start to appreciate the impact
on the game of the man they were fighting on the ice
just half an hour ago. I think our new
coach is a great player and very professional. He pays a lot of attention
to details when he’s coaching us, especially with
regard to technique. Day two, and it starts in the
gym. Good, that’s the way! What we noticed with the Green
Dragons, they need more physical
strength. If you’re going
to play effective game, your physical strength, it
needs to be better, that’s their weakness right
now. Having started
their day in the gym, the Dragons find their
strength and stamina again under test on the ice. Yeah, yeah! There’s a reason why we do
this, we want to build your strength, also your endurance. You need to go as hard as you
can. We’re receiving new
and exciting things to try out. We’re also getting to know
more about our weaknesses and what really needs
improvement. Good work, guys! Introduced to ice hockey by his
dad seven years ago,
Jason has proved the Dragons’ best player
this season. I’m the assistant
captain of the team and also in charge
of their daily routine. It’s the cheers of the crowd
and the camaraderie of the team when we win that attracts
me most to ice hockey. Cultured and co-ordinated on
the ice, Jason has found an outlet for
the same qualities in the classroom,
making his mark as one of Huijia School’s
star calligraphers. Learning calligraphy
helps me to be more focused when I’m on the ice. You must be
calm to be able to think. Calligraphy
trained me in this respect, to allow me to think while
skating. Here at Huijia School,
you live with your classmates all day long. I’m gaining independence
by forging an ability to live away from home. It’s great! (DAY 3) For Rexi, the Dragons
lack aggression on the ice and in session three
he wants to prepare them for the physical confrontation
they can expect on Sunday with the league leaders. One thing you need to remember
here, when you go and attack the guy, you should put
the stick down here, and then you put
your shoulder on him, and then he can’t go anywhere. Attention then
shifts to the corners, another area where
the Dragons’ challenge lacks bite and intensity. If he’s there,
you have to go and stop first. Don’t look at the puck, look
here. You have
to look at the body, the middle section, the stick
can go here. The key is that you’re closing
the gap here. Rexi deliberately starts
with one-on-one scenarios, confident they’ll finally
awaken the squad’s competitive
instincts. Great practice, you did
a great job for first time, let’s keep on going,
let’s be ready Sunday. (DAY 4) Four days into
their training with Rexi, and another
demanding school week, some of the Dragons
are feeling the pace. OK, boys, boys, listen… Fortunately
he has a trick up his sleeve. I show you the silver
medal from Olympics ’88. Aware of the gulf in experience
between the Dragons and the league’s top team,
Rexi hopes to inspire their Olympic dreams and
a star performance on Sunday. I feel very honoured
to touch the medal. I hope I’ll also be able
to win an Olympic medal when I reach that standard. Hopefully, a gold medal! Addressing the deficit
in the Dragons’ basic skills was the focus
of the first three days, providing some tactical sense
is Rexi’s priority on day four. Today we practise breakout so
we are more ready on Sunday. The breakout’s very important,
because that way you can go to offence much better. Break-outs are
used to move the puck from the defensive zone
to the neutral zone. In this scenario,
the two defensemen skate back to pick up the puck
and pass to each other behind their own goal. The defender in possession
passes to the wing forward on his side, who then
moves the puck on to the centre who has dropped back
low to support him. The other wing forward
then skates up to receive the puck from the centre
and move the team back onto the offensive. The breakouts should now
get them onto the attack more effectively against
Snow Leopard on Sunday. The Dragons’ failure
to take scoring chances has frustrated Rexi all week. Shoot the puck! Shoot the puck! If they can’t get
shots away on Sunday, they’ll have
no chance of penetrating the league’s meanest defence. When you do the slapshot,
the puck should be between your legs, then you
have to bring your whole body from backside to front. Some of the Dragons’ attempts
are more slapstick than slapshot, but Kevin salvages
the team’s reputation. Good. That’s it. That’s it, re-bound! Re-bounds are another
potential source of goals, and the session doesn’t end
until the Dragons have completed one key final drill designed to sharpen their
reactions in front of goal. It’s now been five days
since Rexi and his team joined the Dragons. Skating, conditioning,
shooting, strategy and the physical side
of the game… Good! …have all been analysed
and solutions offered. Now, with the toughest match
of the season ahead of them, the Huijia Green Dragons
are coming, ready or not. (MATCHDAY) Table-topping Snow Leopard
are in no mood to lose their intimidating record
to the league debutants. OK, boys, let’s work hard. That’s the key, if you work hard you’re close
to winning the game. Let’s go, then. Whatever the result
there’s no doubt the Dragons have improved, but a win,
even a brave defeat, would transform
their self-confidence. All right. In the opening
exchange, the Dragons are unlucky not to score,
Kevin getting in a great shot on goal and Eric scooping
the puck back for Bill. It was a good shift,
we almost scored. The game has started
at a furious pace. Two good saves from Tony
in goal and the Dragons are on the charge again. Go, go, go! That’s it! This time it’s Mike,
wearing 17, who goes close. That’s the way, shoot! Good! The Dragons are amazingly
still holding their own until Bill’s pass
to Mike is intercepted. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Tony again blocks the initial
shot, but his team-mates are slow
to react to the re-bound. Shortly afterwards, the Dragons
find themselves further behind in the unluckiest
of circumstances. The Snow Leopard shot ricochets
off Kevin’s skate, leaving Tony with little chance. The Dragons start the second
period needing to play smarter and react sharper, but it’s not long before
Snow Leopard are on target again. Things get worse
when the Dragons’ squad is further depleted
following an injury to Peter. Down to seven and trailing
the runaway league leaders, the Dragons
should be down and out. But, against all expectations,
they’re not. Yeah! Rexi’s shoot and re-bound drill pays dividends as Eric pulls
one back for the Dragons. Good goal, guys! But despite
the Dragons’ hard work, it’s soon clear they’ll
need more than a week of Rexi’s input to
match up to Snow Leopard. (GREEN DRAGONS 1-4 SNOW
LEOPARD) The Dragons’ commitment
is not in doubt, it’s the size and resilience
of their squad, their biggest issue all season,
that hurts them most in the later stages. Today I can see that the
opponent is a little bit stronger on their skates,
stronger on the puck, so those things make
a difference in the game. (GREEN DRAGONS 1-7 SNOW
LEOPARD) Snow Leopard notch
their tenth consecutive victory to compile a perfect
regular season record. For the Dragons there’s only
bitter disappointment after a promising week that
offered real encouragement. Hey, boys, don’t put your head
down, it’s not that far away, but
it takes training. Don’t worry,
every time you go on the ice, think about what you could do
better. There was good signs of what
we were doing this week. We were working on the rebounds and we scored
a goal from the rebounds. Also positioning and how to be
physical tackling the guy, so that already was
improvement. It’s been
a great week with you guys. Next time I visit here I can
see how much you’ve been improving, so I will shake you guys one
more time. Thank you… I’ve really enjoyed
the training this past week and all the time we’ve
spent with the coaching team. The Green Dragons. I would like to see how
they develop as hockey players. Let’s see, they have their own
Olympics here in four years, let’s see what happens, maybe
one of the guys are there, so that would be nice to see. Despite the defeat,
the Dragons finish their debut season mid-table. Their plans for next
season well advanced, their dreams of one day playing
for the national team very much alive.

Can a Finnish Olympic ice hockey legend change this Chinese team’s fortune? | The Z Team

4 thoughts on “Can a Finnish Olympic ice hockey legend change this Chinese team’s fortune? | The Z Team

  • May 11, 2019 at 11:04 am
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    Like if you are watching for ice hokey

    Reply
  • May 11, 2019 at 9:02 pm
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    What to say hm…..

    Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 12:35 pm
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    Please next time do a water polo on the line or legends live on

    Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 3:55 pm
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    Why no subtitles for the Mandarin?

    Reply

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