HONEST PETE RUSTLED UNDERPERFORMING CLAN
You know that way where you can see signs of pent up frustration in someone that leads to the point where they crack? This was where Pete Russell was with his Glasgow Clan team on Saturday night.
Up until last night,, the team had been making unusual errors and not sticking to the plan to the point where Russell, a week before the play-offs, has had enough.
His interview post game on Saturday was the reflection of a man that showed this. On camera, just needed to see how much it hurt and frustrated him.
The language he used was strong as he tried to sum up his team’s seventh straight loss – a 3-2 home defeat to Fife Flyers. A game they had been leading and were eventually sunk in the final two minutes.
On that occasion, he was happy to take the flack, but the honesty of his words is something that has gone down well with the Clan fans throughout the season.
“I hear things every week about how we face hot goalies and refereeing decisions going against us,” he said on Saturday. “You can’t blame those two things for the results. I’m simply not good enough.
“This is our fault. The players and mine for the run we’ve been on. The buck stops with me. I’m the head coach and I don’t mind taking the blame. I don’t have an issue with that. That’s my job and my responsibility.”
It shows how far they’ve come in the space of a year when they limped out of the play-offs before they started in a season filed under “It didn’t happen.”
They bounced back with victory in Fife last night so the mood was a little cheerier, but the passion he showed in that couple of minutes of an interview is a far cry from what went on 12 months ago when the club was in its lowest ebb.
Compare that with their final home game last year under John Tripp was a 6-3 loss to Nottingham Panthers that saw them lose their pole position in the final play-off spot, which was snatched by Coventry the following day when Clan went on to lose to Guildford.
After that loss to Panthers, Tripp thought he was being flippant in his post match comments when asked about the game and the prospect of the trip to Guildford at the time.
He said: “We had some bad habits we’re not used to and guys who thought it was a breeze. I do not want to remember the game today. I’ve already forgotten about it. Ask me a question, I will not remember.”
The difference in language from the two different men in the space of a year is night and day and the goodwill Russell has built and the words he spoke in honesty is why his popularity has soared at the club.
Maybe it’s the Scotsman in him, but it’s clear, without knowing the full inner workings of his mind as he contemplates a second season, assuming there are no issues preventing him returning, that players that were on his 2019/20 roster might not be so clear cut.
But after ending that seven-game losing run, there will be a renewed confidence in the players as they head to their play-off games with Guildford Flames and the carrot of a place in Nottingham the following week, going a long way to putting Clan back to what they were before that forgettable season.
But don’t ask Tripp about it. He doesn’t remember.
ICE HOCKEY – BLOODY HELL
Just when you thought you’d seen it all, along comes this weekend to prove you wrong as Belfast Giants clinched the Elite League title.
After winning their final two games on Friday and Saturday, they needed Cardiff to slip up on either Saturday and Sunday to hand them the crown. Saturday’s 9-1 thrashing of MK Lightning did little to make the Giants think it would be their year.
Then along came Coventry.
With a play-off place booked, there was nothing for them to play for other than a final two points and not only did they get them, they killed Cardiff’s title hopes off and the Giants fans who became Blaze followers for one night got to achieve their dream.
The drama of it all underlined just how great a season it’s been so congratulations to Belfast Giants on never giving up and getting their reward. It’s richly deserved and with the prospect of a Grand Slam on the cards, the year really could be quite special in Northern Ireland.
GB WOMEN FLYING THE FLAG
We’re heading into World Championship season again as everyone converges on Dumfries for the Women’s event this week, with gold the main objective for the teams involved.
It’s certainly the case for coach Cheryl Smith (above) as her group prepare for what lies ahead in the Division II Group A and a tough group of opponents to negotiate.
But we wish them well in what will be another stern test and with the tournament on home ice, we can all hope the women can keep the GB feel good factor going this week.