Former Edinburgh Capitals coach Richard Hartmann reckons Great Britain’s pre-tournament game with Slovakia will have helped Pete Russell’s team hugely.
Both teams meet tonight in their penultimate game as the end of the group stage looms, with GB still looking for the win that could be enough to keep them in the top level of the World Championships.
And the Slovakian reckons reaching a quarter final would be seen as progress for his countrymen, after missing out in each of their last five tournaments.
“Slovakia play a much different style to how they play the game here in the UK, but I think the preparation in playing the KHL teams and Slovakia before the tournament will help them,” he said.
“GB playing Slovakia before the tournament I hope has really given them a good idea about what to expect when they play again in Kosice.
“There’s a lot of skating, the passing quality is high and the transitions are very fast so they need to be fully aware of that.
“In the last few years, we’ve struggled to get into the play-off stages as we don’t have NHL players in our roster, but if you can get the quarter final, it’s a one-off game. Win that and suddenly, you have the possibility of going for a medal.
WATCH NOW: GB prepare for World Championships with pre-tournament meeting with Slovakia
“GB have nothing to lose and came into the tournament as rookies, basically, but while Slovakia have the home pressure so will be expected to get the result to try and help them into the knockout stages.
“There’s always a high expectation for Slovakia, but I think getting to the quarter final would an extra thing, but as long as we’re not involved in the relegation side of things, which doesn’t look it the way things are going.”
They met up with GB in Poprad a week before the competition, winning 6-1 as Robert Farmer was the only scorer for Russell’s men.
Slovakia come into the game on the back of a 6-3 result against France yesterday, their second win after starting with an impressive 4-1 win over USA on the opening day.
It’s perhaps the win Hartmann reckoned they needed after losing their subsequent three games as he highlighted the man to watch, while also talking about the impact of having the tournament in his homeland.
He added: “Slovakia have been playing very well, but until yesterday, we were missing a win. The key is skating ability and we have plenty of that, but just not finding a way to get the victories.
“Of the players to watch, Tomas Tatar is certainly one, with his NHL experience at Montreal Canadiens this year and for me, one of the better players to come from there.
“Other than him, there aren’t a lot of players that you would call stars, but as a team, they work hard together and skating and forechecking are two strengths.
“But the excitement of having the tournament in Slovakia is great and I know how much the people over there are loving it right now. It’s the number two sport in the country behind football.
“It’s been a great event so far and there’s been great crowds at all the games. Kosice is a great place to play and we’ve seen it’s been a great atmosphere for the guys.”
Hartmann first came to the UK to become Edinburgh’s player-coach in 2011, staying there for four years before working with the formerly known Braehead Clan for three seasons.
He came out of retirement to play for Murrayfield Racers in the SNL last year and has watched the tournament closely and gave his verdict on what he’s seen from GB.
Hartmann said: “Staying out of the box is the most important thing and Britain have found that out in this tournament so far. As soon as you have to kill penalties, it can take a lot of your power away and you start making errors.
“I think GB are in process of learning how to play in highest level. We’ll see when they play against a lower level team like France.
“But as a Slovakian, of course, I want my country to win. The guys deserve it and as do the fans as we’ve haven’t done that well in the last few years.”