Following Thursday afternoons game Local2.ca was able to get an exclusive interview with Soo Thunderbird head coach Zoltan Kovacs.
Kovacs had very high praise for goaltender John Kleinhans. When asked what Kleinhans meant to the team during the tournament he responded saying that Kleinhans “has been the backbone right from the start of the tournament, playing great against Penticton and he stole us that game. He took us to two overtimes with Portage, he played well against Humboldt and even todays game we were outshot and John was able to shut the door when we needed him too.”
Kovacs also explained how the team was keeping focused on the tournament with all the excitement around the city and around the Thunderbirds. “This tournament is an experience that these kids are going to have for the rest of their lives. So we’re eating up the excitement, the other day we went up to a local elementary school and the players were reading to the kids in kindergarten to grade 5, talking to kids in grades 6 and 7 and playing floor hockey with the grade 8s. We’re enjoying the hype in this little town of Humboldt, the people have been fantastic, they treat the kids like gold and we’re enjoying every minute of it.”
Local2.ca also asked Kovacs how the team has adjusted to the coaching change since he has been appointed to the head coaching duties, he responded saying “I think that it was difficult at the start. I never really changed a lot of things, I have a really good leadership group on this hockey club with some good 20 year olds who helped immensely with the transition. I’m sure it was a shock to them at first but they know that I have their backs and that I’m going to give them every chance to win every game we play.”
Kovacs also said that “we have opened a lot of eyes right through the hockey community right across Canada. First and foremost we have 18 local kids and that is unheard of with a lot of these teams. Woodstock had no local kids, I think Humboldt, Penticton and Portage only have 3 or 4 local kids. That has opened up a lot of eyes in the hockaey community, that we’re staying local. But to be successful against Penticton we have to be at our best, no doubt about it. They keep getting stronger as the tournament goes on, we caught them off guard on the first game of the tournament but they’re going to want some revenge, so we have to be at our best.”
“The Controversy and Adversity these kids have faced is absolutely incredible, They could’ve rolled over and played dead because they couldn’t take the pressure but they fought through it, they’re playing right now for each other they’re a tight knit group. I’m doing everything I can to support them and keep them positive, being out here could be a blessing in disguise not having to deal with the controversy that’s back home.”
Kovacs finished up the interview saying “The people of Sault Ste, Marie want them to do well. The boys know that the community is behind them, they do appreciate the text messages and emails from friends and family wishing them luck and that’s really important to them, they want to feel like they have the support of the community and they know they have it.”
Local2.ca would once again like to thank Mr. Kovacs for his time and for the interview. Local2.ca would also like to wish the best of luck to the Soo Thunderbird team in the remaining games at the RBC cup.
The next Thunderbird game is Saturday afternoon at 4pm (E.T) where they face the Penticton Vees. (The game can be viewed on fasthockey.com once you sign up for a free account.) The winner of the game will advance to the finals, which goes Sunday night game time at 7:30, it will also be aired on TSN.
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Exclusive Interview with Soo Thunderbirds Head Coach
James Anthony for local2 sault ste. marie
May 11th, 2012 at 8:38am