Icy discipline needed
New Southern Stampede ice hockey coach Heikki Grohn has big plans to instil discipline into the Queenstown-based team this season.
The 35-year-old Finnish coach played for 15 years in the second-tier Finnish National League, but after realising he wasn’t going to be a toptier player, took a few years off at 22, studied coaching and rejoined the scene in an off-the-ice role.
Seeing an opportunity to coach the Stampede during the Finnish offseason, and wanting to polish his English, Grohn has been in Queenstown for seven weeks and says his main goal of shaping the team into a disciplined, cohesive force is well under way.
‘‘The Stampede has a good mix of older guys and younger guys, but not too much in the in-between bracket of 22 to 25-year-old players,’’ he said.
‘‘I want the team to be more of a unit and to focus on the game, the rules of the game, and respect and discipline. They have a reputation as a tough, aggressive team, but they need to respect the refs more and stay calm when things get heated.’’
Grohn’s discipline crackdown comes after last year’s Stampede season was marked by on-ice brawls resulting in suspensions and sinbinning during precious game time. He will also be coaching juniors of the Queenstown Ice Hockey Club.
All-round kiwi players showed some great promise, but just did not get the same amount of on-ice time as their international contemporaries, Grohn said.
Cool: New Southern Stampede ice hockey coach Heikki Grohn at the team’s home rink.