ZOH 2022 | Proud Pacina hoped in Nagano: We didn’t mess with them! Frustrated Americans banged on doors and threw sticks

BEIJING (from our rapporteur) – “Pride prevails. I am really proud and happy for the girls for giving such a performance, “said the coach.

Exactly what you wanted before the match, right?

Dedicated, American women were not afraid. We didn’t make fun of them, we stood against them. We exactly expected to spend some time in the defensive zone. We wanted it to be 0-0 after the first period, we wanted to score the first goal. Everything worked out. What failed is that they managed to catch up quickly.

Do you think that if you kept the lead a little longer, the Americans would be even more nervous?

If we could move over the second period with a lead of 1: 0, I think the match could have gone differently. Unfortunately, the team is unlucky for some reason. I don’t know why it is. At the World Championships, the girls performed well here, but luck did not wish us in important moments. I guess so, we have to accept it. But from the point of view of the performance of most players, I am absolutely happy and proud of them. I’m glad I had the opportunity to train them for two years.

Photo: Petr David Josek, CTK / AP

Immediate joy of Czech players after a goal scored.Photo: Petr David Josek, CTK / AP

That the team is unlucky was also reflected in the winning goal of the USA, which was arranged by Pejzlová with an unfortunate run?

No mask, no hockey stick and we still had it ourselves. I accept it. The girls performed a phenomenal performance. Nobody expected this.

You seemed to have a perfect plan not to get rid of the pucks quickly, and vice versa, as far as it goes, not to be afraid to hold on to them.

It worked. The girls attacked well, stopped the Americans and gained pucks. Unfortunately, we stood with them a lot, they didn’t take two or three quick steps forward. This is a disease of Czech hockey. We play standing too often. Of course, there was twice as much pressure on the girls as usual. America is a completely different level to which you have no way to prepare them. Only that match with the USA or Canada.

And for that you need an excellent performance of the goalkeeper, which Klára Peslarová fulfilled. Out of 58 shots, she collected only three times and performed some truly magnificent interventions …

I’m not even surprised by Klara. We always knew she could catch matches. She played fantastically today. And I have to say that thanks to her, we were a little hopeful in Nagano. We had America again in the quarterfinals, Hashan also caught it against her in the first and second period, even though it was also quite one-sided.

Photo: Petr David Josek, CTK / AP

Czech goalkeeper Klára Peslarová cannot complain about boredom.Photo: Petr David Josek, CTK / AP

Did you feel frustrated with the Americans during the match that they can’t break you at all?

Yeah. During the warm-up, they routinely came to the match they would win. I said to myself: “It suits us.” They started with pressure, but our girls stood up to them. The Americans shot from strange angles, after the first third I saw them banging on the door and throwing hockey sticks. We lacked a little strength, peace of mind … I’m sorry the passes weren’t harder and more accurate. We could have bothered our opponents even more. They got into counter that is terribly dangerous. You’re still cooking.

Do Czech players have to enjoy such a tournament so that they do not repeat similar mistakes next time?

We all have to enjoy it. Nothing will prepare you for the Olympics – no world championships, no league at all. No team or personal success in leagues. The Olympics need completely different qualities, especially human. Canada and the United States have known for 24 years since the first Olympics and select players and the implementation team accordingly. Selfishness does not belong here.

Photo: Petr David Josek, CTK / AP

Czech hockey players after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games in Beijing.Photo: Petr David Josek, CTK / AP

Are you sorry that you didn’t help each other in the quarterfinals again? You had four, including one five-minute one. In the entire tournament, you did not use a single of the 21 games in the numerical advantage …

They didn’t go to us. We changed the composition of the fives on Thursday, I didn’t know who to put in them anymore. I don’t know why we didn’t succeed. I’m not omniscient. We thought a lot and didn’t play intuitively. When I drew something for them, the players tried to play it, even though the situation had changed. But when I look back at the tournament, it doesn’t bother me so much.

During the tournament, you had comments on the approach of some players. Did the players deal with them?

Would you like to expand on this idea?

Not at all … This is an internal matter that will be resolved for a long time. We in the Czech Republic do not have long-term experience with the World Cup Group A and the Olympics. If we want to play for medals in the future, we need completely different characters than those that appeared in the team. This is not a critique. I don’t criticize anyone. But for a balanced match with Canada and America, you really need people who are 100% reliable and who only play for the team and not for themselves. That’s not a criticism, that’s a fact.

Photo: Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

Czech hockey players after a quarterfinal defeat with the USHA at the Beijing Olympics.Photo: Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

So there were players who didn’t behave as you imagined?

(tacitly indicates consent)

Would you be interested in continuing with the national team?

We’ll see. Those two years were extremely demanding and exhausting. I need to take a big break and then sit down with Tomáš Král, Petr Bříza and ask what the vision of women’s hockey is, if we have a four-year plan for the next Olympics. I have to rest a lot, this was a very, very difficult journey. But it was worth it and I’m very proud of the girls.

How long should the pause when you need to compare things in your head should be?

A few weeks for sure, maybe a month to sort out my thoughts. I promised Tomáš (King) and the people at the association that we would professionalize this team and women’s hockey in general, the goal was the Olympics, we succeeded. I’m a little sorry we didn’t do even better. But I’ll learn from that too.

Foto: Brian Snyder, Reuters

Coach Tomáš Pacina gives instructions to his charges in the match of the Olympic tournament with China.Photo: Brian Snyder, Reuters

Have you shown that hockey is also a game for girls?

I believe so. I can’t speak for people at home, let everyone judge for themselves. No one expected us to keep up with the Americans, even though, of course, they had a big advantage. But we expected that. I am very proud of how the girls fought, were skilful and wanted to represent the Czech Republic.

This team is, with some exceptions, quite young, many players are under 26 years old. Do you feel that he could have a future ahead of him?

If they are willing to improve further. In the Czech Republic, it is often the case that we often train, but we do not go to training. The question is whether the girls will want to improve in shooting, skating, defensive work and especially fitness. We lag there very much. Just because girls get older doesn’t mean they’ll get better. Some of our older girls have been training for six months now and you can see how well they skated and how their condition improved.

USA Grace Zumwinkleová překonává českou brankářku Kláru Peslarovou ve čtvrtfinále OH v Pekingu." class="d_a6" data-dot="mol-figure" data-dot-data="{"mediaItemType":"foto"}">
Foto: Brian Snyder, Reuters

USA hockey player Grace Zumwinkle beats Czech goalkeeper Klára Peslarová in the quarterfinals of the Beijing Olympics.Photo: Brian Snyder, Reuters

Would a better domestic league help?

This is not a long journey because we don’t have enough girls. But what would be needed; in both women’s and boys’ hockey; is centralizing the sixteen, the eighteen to be together all year, playing tournaments against the best. At home against the boys and in the world against good opponents. And also to surround the girls with quality people – fitness trainers, we also need mental and skill coaches.

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